Issue 18 (September 20)


Lawmakers Poised to Pass Stopgap Funding, Return to Campaign Trail

Members of Congress are hoping to get out of town by the end of the week — a week early — to head back out on the campaign trail. However, at the time of this writing, challenges remain in negotiating a stopgap funding bill to keep the government operating into the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Lawmakers had planned to stay in session for the remainder of September, but noted earlier in the month that they were poised to strike a deal on a continuing resolution (CR) by this week, allowing them to head home until after the November elections. Despite the current impasse, it is expected that a CR will be enacted by the end of the month.
While the text of the CR is not yet available, reports indicate it will keep the government funded until December 9. What happens after that remains an open question, dependent entirely on the outcome of the elections and which party controls the Senate (which could flip). For full details of the fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending debate as it pertains to social science research, check out¬†COSSA’s state of play analysis.

NSF Releases Open Government Plan 4.0

Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released the latest iteration of its transparency plan, Open Government Plan 4.0. NSF’s original plan, (version 1.0) was developed in 2010 in response to a 2009 White House directive calling for federal agencies to “implement the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration” across their activities and functions. This newest report, issued last week, reflects updates that have been made to federal guidelines pertaining to open government practices. The plan covers a variety of topics, including specific NSF transparency initiatives, the use of social media for communicating with the public, Freedom of Information Act requests, and others.

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Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Seeks Input

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, established by a law passed in March 2016, is charged with producing a report that identifies how the government can enhance its use of data and evidence to improve federal programs and policies, to be delivered to the President and Congress within 15 months of the Commission’s formation. As it begins its work, the Commission is seeking input on existing strategies and practices for generating and incorporating data and evidence into policymaking as well as potential challenges it may encounter. The Commission has requested comments on 19 questions across three broad categories: (1) overarching questions, (2) data infrastructure and access, and (3) data use in program design, management, research, evaluation, and analysis. For full details, see the notice in the Federal Register. Comments must be submitted to (Docket ID USBC-2016-0003) by November 14, 2016.

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Department of Education Seeks Nominations for National Assessment Governing Board

The Department of Education seeks candidates for four open seats on its National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). The Board sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a nationally representative measure of U.S. students’ knowledge and abilities in core academic subjects. NAEP is broadly recognized as the gold standard in testing. NAGB is composed of 26 members consisting of “governors, state legislators, chief state school officers, a local school superintendent, local and state school board members, principals, classroom teachers, curriculum and testing experts, a business representative, a representative of nonpublic schools, and members of the general public, including parents.” Specifically, NAGB seeks to fill the following positions: elementary school principal, general public representative (2 positions), and a testing and measurement expert. Nominations are due October 28, 2016. For more information, see NAGB’s¬†website.

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White House SBS Team Celebrates One-Year Anniversary

On September 15, the White House’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) celebrated its one-year anniversary. SBST, a group of behavioral scientists within the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), is chaired by the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). It also includes the participation of federal agencies, departments, and White House offices.
The 2016 Social and Behavioral Sciences Team Annual Report cites the progress made by the team in implementing President Obama’s Executive Order 13707, “Using Behavioral Science Insights to Better Serve the American People” (see Update, September 22, 2015). The 2016 report explains that over the last year the SBST’s portfolio has grown to include more than 40 collaborations throughout the federal government. The collaborations fall under three major themes: (1) undertaking significant policy challenges (e.g., affordable health insurance, expanding economic opportunities, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions); (2) leveraging strategies to enhance the effectiveness of programs, including addressing how programs are communicated, changing the ways programs are administered, “informing the design of policy;” and (3) using the best available evidence along with testing its impact to determine which programs to scale up and discern what needs improving.
Project areas addressed by SBST over the last year include promoting retirement security, advancing economic opportunity, improving college access and affordability, responding to climate change, supporting criminal justice reform, assisting job seekers, assisting families in obtaining health coverage and staying healthy, and improving government effectiveness and efficiency.

NIH Department of Bioethics Fellowship Opportunities Available for Fall 2017

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Department of Bioethics is accepting applications for its fall 2017 fellowship program. The two-year post-doctoral and pre-doctoral fellows engage in the activities and “intellectual life” of the Department, as well as study “ethical issues related to conduct of research, clinical practice, genetics, and health policy.” In addition to having access to educational opportunities at NIH, fellows also have opportunities to participate in weekly bioethics seminars, case conferences, ethics consultations, and IRB deliberations. The application deadline for the post-doctoral fellowship is December 31, 2016 and January 15, 2017 for the pre-doctoral fellowship. To view the application and/or apply, go here.

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Request for Information Solicits Input on International Trends in Cardiovascular Morbidity and Mortality

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released a request for information (RFI) (NOT-HL-16-440) seeking input for an October 2018 conference that will address “international trends in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.” The conference will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the landmark “Conference on the Declining Mortality from Coronary Heart Disease” (CHD). That conference brought together experts from epidemiology, clinical research, cardiology, and public health. Similarly, NHLBI would like to bring experts “in a broad range of fields to consider from a global perspective where we are in terms of understanding the direction, magnitude, differences, and drivers of trends in cardiovascular disease worldwide.” The RFI emphasizes that out of necessity, the proposed 2018 meeting will be transdisciplinary, stressing that the questions “about drivers of past changes and likely trajectories” cannot be realized by scientists from one disciplinary area. Responses to the RFI are due by December 31, 2016. For more information see the Notice.

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Nursing Institute Releases New Strategic Plan

On September 15, the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a new strategic plan, “Advancing Science, Improving Lives: A Vision for Nursing Science.” The new strategic plan was informed by NINR’s Innovative Question (IQ) initiative, which “sought to explore unanswered questions, promote results-oriented research, and guide the science over the next five to 10 years.” Four areas of scientific focus are highlighted in the plan: symptom science, wellness, self-management, and end of life and palliative care.

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DOD Seeks Candidates for Associate Director for Social Science Research

The Department of Defense (DOD) Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research is seeking candidates to fill the position of Associate Director of Social Science Research. This position includes direction of the Minerva Research Initiative. The Minerva Initiative was launched in 2008 as a university-based social science research program. The position will be filled through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act process, so applicants must be the employee of state, local, federal, or tribal government; an institution of higher education; or another eligible nonprofit, and agree to serve a set term in the position. Demonstrated experience with large program management, as well as a higher degree in the social and behavioral sciences are among the requirements.

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PCORI Challenge Offers Prize for Research Questions on Addressing Cardiovascular Disease

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have announced a contest for researchers and clinicians to submit research questions that can help address evidence gaps to improve treatment for people with cardiovascular disease. The challenge will award four cash prizes of $5,000. Proposed hypotheses should pose questions that can be answered using comparative effectiveness research and a precision medicine approach. Entries must be submitted by October 6, 2016. More information is available on the PCORI website.

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Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • AHRQ: Developing Measures of Shared Decision Making (R01) (PA-16-424)
  • AHRQ: Large Research Projects for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB) (R01) (PA-16-423)
  • AHRQ: Large Health Services Research Demonstration and Dissemination Projects for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB) (R18) (PA-16-422)
  • AHRQ: Advancing Patient Safety Implementation through Safe Medication Use Research (R18) (PA-16-421)
  • AHRQ: Advances in Patient Safety through Simulation Research (R18) (PA-16-420)
  • NIH: Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Enhancing Diversity in Biomedical Data Science (R25) (RFA-MD-16-002)
  • NIH: BD2K Research Education Curriculum Development: Data Science Overview for Biomedical Scientists (R25) (RFA-ES-16-011)
  • NIDCD: Notice of NIDCD’s Participation in PA-16-305 “Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellowship for Students at Institutions With NIH-Funded Institutional Predoctoral Dual-Degree Training Programs (Parent F30)” (NOT-DC-16-007)
  • NHLBI: Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for ImPlementation REsearCh to DEvelop interventions for People Living with HIV (PRECLuDE) (U01)¬†(NOT-HL-16-444)
  • NIMH: Updates for PAR-16-354 “Advanced Laboratories for Accelerating the Reach and Impact of Treatments for Youth and Adults with Mental Illness (ALACRITY) Research Centers (P50)” (NOT-MH-16-022)
  • NIH: Encouraging Appropriate Care Using Behavioral Economics through Electronic Health Records (R21/R33) (RFA-AG-17-013)

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AERA Releases “Ed-Talks”

The American Educational Research Association (AERA), a COSSA governing member, has released over thirty “Ed-Talk” videos, which feature discussions of cutting-edge research on education and learning. Additionally, AERA released research fact sheets to provide more details on the findings and research presented in the “Ed-Talks”. These presentations were given at a forum held in Washington, DC as well as the AERA annual meeting in April of 2016. More details can be found¬†here.

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Events Calendar

A list of COSSA members’ annual meetings and other events can be found on the COSSA¬†webpage.

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

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