Issue 13 (June 28)


Senate Introduces “COMPETES” Reauthorization Bill

On June 22, Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Gary Peters (D-MI), John Thune (R-SD), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced the bipartisan American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084), which is the Senate’s version of America COMPETES Act reauthorization legislation. As COSSA has been reporting, the America COMPETES Act is legislation originally enacted in 2007 to bolster U.S. investment in basic scientific research at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal science agencies. The House’s efforts to reauthorize COMPETES took a negative turn in recent years, resulting in legislation that would decimate federal funding for social science research and dismantle the peer review process as we currently know it. In contrast, the bill introduced in the Senate last week looks to support—not undercut—NSF’s grant-making infrastructure.

The Senate bill is scheduled to be marked up by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on June 29.  Read on for highlights of S. 3084.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Appropriations Process Grinds to a Halt

It was only a matter of time before the fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations process ground to a halt in anticipation of the extended summer recess. Tensions came to a head last week with a Democratic sit-in on the House floor in demand of a vote on gun safety legislation, and a 15-hour Democratic filibuster of the FY 2017 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill in the Senate to force votes on gun violence-related amendments, which were allowed late in the week. In light of the renewed focus on gun control in the aftermath of the Orlando tragedy, any bipartisan progress made so far on the annual spending bills has evaporated. In addition, the total number of working days in July can be counted on two hands, leaving no time to push on any further. Both sides are already talking about the need to enact a continuing resolution to keep the government operating into the new fiscal year on October 1 when Congress returns from the summer recess in September.

You can stay up to date on the status of FY 2017 funding proposals on the COSSA website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Lipinski Introduces Legislation to Improve Research Regulations

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) introduced legislation on June 24 intended to develop ways to alleviate some of the administrative burden placed on federally funded researchers and institutions. The University Regulations Streamlining and Harmonization Act of 2016 (H.R. 5583), which is co-sponsored by Lipinski’s Illinois colleague from across the aisle, Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL), builds on recommendations from a 2015 National Academies report, Optimizing the Nation’s Investment in Academic Research: A New Regulatory Framework for the 21st Century, Part 1 (part 2 of the report will be released on June 28). The improvements and efficiencies proposed in the bill include establishing a Research Policy Board to advise on proposed regulations and ways to improve existing regulations, streamlining the procurement process for universities, and simplifying the application process across multiple agencies. More details can be found in the press release. The bill has been referred to the House Science, Space and Technology and Oversight and Government Reform committees.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Impact Report Highlights Obama Administration’s Science Initiatives

On June 21, the White House released 100 Examples of President Obama’s Leadership in Science, Technology, and Innovation. Among the initiatives and policies listed are efforts to increase scientific transparency at federal science agencies, the formation of science-related councils and groups at the White House, and the creation of multiple science and research-related tax credits. Many of the initiatives promoted the social and behavioral sciences, including creating the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) at the White House, publishing thousands of federal datasets on, and implementing a multi-agency plan to harness big data.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

CJRA & COSSA to Host “Ask a Criminologist” Roundtable on Homicide Rates

The Crime & Justice Research Alliance (CJRA) (a collaborative effort of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and the American Society of Criminology, both COSSA members) and COSSA will be hosting the first in a series of “Ask a Criminologist” Congressional roundtables on Thursday, July 7.  This roundtable will feature new research commissioned by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) exploring why homicide rates in the United States increased in 2015 and include a discussion with CJRA Chair Dr. Nancy La Vigne, Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, and Washington Post reporter Tom Jackman. More information, and a link to RSVP, can be found here.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Acting Agricultural Statistics Board Chair Named

The National Agricultural Statistics Service has named Joseph L. Parsons acting chair of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Statistics Board. The Agricultural Statistics Board “prepares and issues USDA’s official national and state forecasts and estimates relating to crop production, stocks of agricultural commodities, livestock and livestock products, dairy and dairy products, poultry and poultry products, agricultural prices, economic information, agricultural wage rates, chemical usage, and other such subjects.” Parsons currently serves as Director of NASS’ Information Technology Division and Chief Information Officer.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Census Scientific Advisory Committee Seeks Nominations

The Census Bureau has issued a call for nominations for membership to the Census Scientific Advisory Committee. This committee advises the Director of the Census Bureau on statistical data collection, statistical analysis, econometrics, cognitive psychology, and a variety of other scientific areas pertaining to Census Bureau programs and activities. According to the notice in the Federal Register, “Nominees must have scientific and technical expertise in such areas as demography, economics, geography, psychology, statistics, survey methodology, social and behavioral sciences, Information Technology, computing, or marketing.” The deadline for applications is July 15, 2016. More information is available in the Federal Register.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Nominations Open for NSB Awards

The National Science Board (NSB), the policy making body for the National Science Foundation (NSF), is accepting nominations for its Vannevar Bush and Public Service awards. The Vannevar Bush Award “honors truly exceptional lifelong leaders in science and technology who have made substantial contributions to the welfare of the Nation,” according to the award’s website. The Public Service Award honors both groups and individuals who have made contributions to increasing public understanding of science and engineering. Nominations for the 2017 honorary awards will be accepted through October 3, 2016.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Funding Opportunity Announcements

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Events Calendar

A list of COSSA members’ annual meetings and other events can be found on the COSSA website. COSSA members who have an upcoming event they would like to see listed in the Events Calendar and on our website should send an email to

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Scientific Workforce Diversity Discussed at NIH Advisory Committee Meeting

On June 9, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity Hannah Valantine updated the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) on the findings and recommendations of the ACD’s African American/Black Funding Disparity Working Group. Valantine presented the key findings of the Working Group followed by a discussion of how the Working Group framed its suggestions regarding NIH’s plans to address the issue in the coming months. She reported that the Group’s analysis found that there are funding disparities at every stage of the application process from submissions to funding. In particular, the analysis found that African Americans submit fewer applications, noting that it is a “miniscule applicant pool and even within that small pool there are fewer number of applications per applicant.” Compounding the issue is that there are fewer resubmissions from African Americans. The Working Group found that the initial review score drives resubmission and there is a small component involved as it relates to the research topic. Based on the data and the ongoing analysis, Valantine stressed that the “work needs to continue to be done and NIH needs to continue a vigilant eye on the issue.” (more…)

NAS Webinar Puts Recent “Advancing the Power of Economic Evidence” Report in International Context

On June 16, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) hosted a webinar to discuss the findings and limitations of its report, Advancing the Power of Economic Evidence to Inform Investments in Children, Youth, and Families, which was published in May 2016. The report uses cost analysis (CA), which looks at the costs of a program within a specified time period, cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA), which determines how much of an outcome is achieved per dollar spent, and benefit-cost analysis (BCA), which determines if the value of the outcome surpass its costs, to evaluate which of the government’s many intervention programs work well as currently designed, which need tweaking or improvement, and which should be cut altogether. (more…)


Past Newsletters



Browse 40 years of the COSSA Washington Update.