Issue 10 (May 16)


Census Bureau Director Resigns, Complicating Outlook for 2020 Decennial

On May 9, John Thompson announced his plans to step down as Director of the Census Bureau effective June 30. Thompson’s resignation comes at a critical time for the Bureau as it ramps up its activities ahead of the 2020 Census and continues to face periodic threats to the American Community Survey. So far, no details have emerged about a potential replacement. The Deputy Director position at the Bureau has been vacant since Nancy Potok left to become Chief Statistician of the United States in January.

No reason was given for Thompson’s departure in the middle of a year-long extension to his term (which had expired at the end of 2016).The week before this announcement, Thompson appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies for an oversight hearing on the 2020 Census. Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) had several sharp questions for the Director on projected cost overruns on IT systems for the decennial census, the government’s largest non-military undertaking. Culberson also expressed concern about the American Community Survey, calling it “intrusive.”

The next director will have to contend with a funding climate in which investment in the Bureau, which typically increases significantly in the years leading up to a decennial census, has fallen well below similar points in the cycle, with a fairly small increase passed for fiscal year (FY) 2017 and nearly flat funding proposed by the Administration for FY 2018. Without adequate investment, the task of conducting a fair and accurate 2020 Census will become increasingly challenging—and more expensive down the line.

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Why Social Science? Highlights Paul Milgrom’s Auction Research

why-social-scienceThe most recent Why Social Science? post highlights a recent opinion piece published in The Hill by Paul Milgrom, a Stanford economist whose groundbreaking research in auction design is used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to auction electromagnetic spectrum to companies, generating billions in revenue for the federal government. Read it here and subscribe.

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COSSA Joins Community in Urging Increased Allocation for Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill

COSSA joined nearly 800 organizational stakeholders of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill in a letter to the Appropriations leadership urging it to increase the fiscal year (FY) 2018 302(b) allocation, which is the committee’s funding cap on spending for each of the appropriation bills. While the letter acknowledges the Subcommittee’s “broad range of constituencies and needs,” it also recognizes that the programs funded under the Labor-HHS bill “are continually short-changed in the annual appropriations process.” Accordingly, the scientific community emphasizes that “without an increase in the Labor-HHS 302(b) allocation, it will be impossible to meaningfully increase investments in important initiatives.”

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President’s Complete Budget Request Expected May 23

Last week, the Trump Administration notified Congress that it will transmit its complete Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget request on May 23. Federal agencies have started to schedule events to review their FY 2018 budget requests but details remain unclear as to the fate of agencies that support the social and behavioral sciences. The Trump Administration released preliminary details of the FY 2018 request on March 16, which included proposals for Cabinet-level departments and some other large agencies. Following the release of the complete budget request, COSSA will prepare an in-depth analysis of the budget as it impacts the social and behavioral sciences.

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Gopal Khanna Named AHRQ Director

Gopal Khanna has been appointed to lead the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Khanna was most recently the Director of Illinois’ Data Analytics Healthcare and Human Services Innovation Incubator and served as Minnesota’s first Chief Information Officer. He also served in senior policy positions during the George W. Bush administration. Khanna succeeds Sharon Arnold, AHRQ’s Deputy Director, who served as Acting Director for the agency after the departure of Andrew Bindman during the Presidential transition.

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HHS Seeks Nominations for Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is currently seeking nominations for seven new non-Federal members to its Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services. The Council advises the HHS Secretary on preventing or reducing the burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias on those suffering from the disease and their caregivers. The selected members will replace the seven members whose terms expire on September 30, 2017. Nominations are due June 16, 2017. For more information and/or to suggest a nominee, see the announcement.

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National Security Decadal Survey Issues Second Call for White Papers

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has announced its second call for white papers to inform its decadal survey on applications of social and behavioral sciences for national security, which is sponsored by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The Academies is seeking white papers that “identify research concepts, methods, tools, techniques, and new ideas that could advance knowledge” across a range national security-relevant areas. More information and submission instructions are available on the Academies website. Responses are requested by June 12, 2017. Submissions from the first call for white papers, which focused on the needs of the intelligence community, can be accessed here.

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National Academies Publishes K-12 Behavioral and Social Sciences Education Workshop Proceedings

The Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has published the proceedings of their recent workshop entitled “The Social and Behavioral Science in K-12 Education: Past, Present, and Future.” The brief includes a summary of the seminar held in November 2016, perspectives from different social and behavioral science disciplines, and recommended next steps. The brief can be read here.

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Friends of NIMHD Ask for Increased Funding for Institute

COSSA, a founding member of the Friends of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), joined in sending letters to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) leadership in support of $302 million ($21 million increase) in funding for fiscal year (FY) 2018 for the NIMHD. While acknowledging the “difficult budget environment,” the letter also highlights the institute’s success in basic research; community-based, participatory research; transdisciplinary and translational research; and training the research workforce.

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Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • NHLBI: ImPlementation REsearCh to DEvelop Interventions for People Living with HIV (PRECluDE) (U01) (RFA-HL-18-007)
  • NIA: Uncovering the Causes, Contexts, and Consequences of Elder Mistreatment (R01) (RFA-AG-18-010)
  • NIAAA: Understanding Processes of Recovery in the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder (R21) (PA-17-284) (R01) (PA-17-285)
  • NIBIB, NIDDK, NINDS: Administrative Supplements for Participation in the Concept to Clinic: Commercializing Innovation (C3i) Program (Admin Supp) (PA-17-286)
  • NIDA: Wearable to Track Recovery and Relapse Factors for People w/ Addiction(R43/R44) (RFA-DA-18-010)
  • NIH/FDA: Tobacco Regulatory Science (R01) (RFA-OD-17-007) [NCI, NHLBI, NIAAA, NIDA, NIEHS, ODP]
  • NIH: Tobacco Regulatory Science (R03) (RFA-OD-17-008), (R21) (RFA-OD-17-009) [NCI, NHLBI, NIAAA, NIDA, NIEHS, ODP]

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Alan Krueger to Deliver 2017 Moynihan Lecture

On May 18, the American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS), a COSSA member, will formally award the 2017 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize to Alan B. Kreuger, Bendheim Professor of Economics & Public Policy at Princeton University. The award recognizes “social scientists, public officials, and civic leaders who champion the use of informed judgment to advance the public good.” Kreuger, whose work focuses on analyzing the economic and policy implications of the growing “gig” economy, will deliver a lecture on Capitol Hill entitled “Independent Workers: What Role for Public Policy?” Information on the lecture, including how to attend, is available here. More information on the Moynihan Prize is available on the AAPSS website.

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NIH Announces Major Policy Shift: Agency to Impose Cap on R01s Held by Grantees

On May 2, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins announced that the agency would be initiating a new approach to grant funding designed to “optimize stewardship of tax payers’ dollars.” Essentially, the new policy would limit the number of investigator-initiated (R01) grants held by grantees to three. According to NIH, this change would affect approximately 6 percent of current investigators but would free up resources to support nearly 1,600 additional grants. Announcing the policy change, Collins stressed that the new policy would ensure that the funds given by NIH “are producing the best results from our remarkable scientific workforce.”

According to the NIH director, the change in policy would take advantage of “new and powerful ways to assess the effectiveness of NIH research investments to be sure that the funds we are given are producing the best results from our remarkable scientific workforce. We would pursue this strategy regardless of the level of budget support.” The agency intends to address the issue at each of the institutes’ and centers’ quarterly national advisory committee meetings. Prior to Collins’ official announcement, NIH Principle Deputy Director Larry Tabak held a conference call to brief the scientific community on the forthcoming changes. (more…)

Events Calendar

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