Issue 13 (June 27)


FY 2018 Funding Bills Off to a Slow Start

The House and Senate are heading down different paths as they attempt to kick-start the fiscal year (FY) 2018 appropriations process before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. As previously reported, the annual appropriations process is significantly delayed this year with the President’s budget request having been transmitted to Congress just last month (it is usually due in early February).

Appropriations subcommittees in both chambers have begun holding their annual hearings to discuss the budget requests for agencies under their purview (see related article on the NIH budget hearing). Some subcommittees have begun writing their appropriations bills, even without knowing what their spending allocation—the topline budget they are allotted for their bill—is for next year. Some have chosen to write their bills using current FY 2017 funding levels, while others are assuming small increases.

Given that there are less than 40 working days left before the next fiscal year begins, House leaders have expressed an interest in foregoing regular order altogether and instead crafting a catch-all omnibus appropriation bill. To accomplish this, however, subcommittees would need to start marking up and passing their bills out of committee over the next several weeks so they can be compiled into a 12-bill package before September 30.

The Senate, on the other hand, is taking a more deliberate approach and would prefer to advance each of the appropriations bills individually through the committee process before September so that they can be in a good negotiating position with the House when it comes time to finish up the bills later this fall.

Either way, we may start to see details of the appropriations bills of interest to the research community emerge following the July 4 recess.

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The Crime and Justice Research Alliance Answers “Why Social Science?”

why-social-scienceThis week’s “Why Social Science?” guest post comes from Nancy La Vigne, Chair of the Crime and Justice Research Alliance and Director of the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, who writes about how findings from criminology help us answer crucial questions about crime and our justice system. Read it here and subscribe.

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Agriculture Research Board Seeking Representatives from Social Science Associations

The National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board is seeking nominations to fill nine vacancies, including a slot reserved for a representative from a national social science association. The NAREEE Advisory Board is comprised of 25 members, each representing a core stakeholder group for agricultural research, extension, education, and economics, and advises the Secretary of Agriculture on policies and priorities related to those domains. In addition to seeking to fill a vacancy for the National Social Science Association category, the Board is seeking nominations for the National Food Science Organization, National Nutritional Science Society, and 1862 Land-Grant Colleges and Universities categories, among others. Nominations should be submitted by July 31, 2017. More information is available in the Federal Register notice.

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National Endowment for the Arts Releases Program Solicitation for Research Labs

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has released a program solicitation for its Research Labs program. NEA Research Labs extend the research agenda of the NEA by cultivating transdisciplinary research partnerships, grounded in the social and behavioral sciences, to produce insights about “the arts for the benefits of arts and non-arts sector alike”. The deadline for proposal submissions is July 18, 2017. The complete solicitation and instructions can be found here.

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Podcasts Highlight the Impact of Congressional Wastebooks on Researchers

A recent episode of the new PRI podcast Undiscovered (from the team behind Science Friday) focuses on how the publication of Congressional “wastebooks” affects the researchers whose grants are ridiculed. The episode, entitled “The Wastebook,” features the 2016 event, “Wasteful” Research? Looking Beyond the Abstract, during which researchers whose grants were singled out by wastebooks had the opportunity to more fully explain their researcher to Members of Congress and their staff. The event was hosted by the Coalition to Promote Research (which COSSA co-leads) and the Coalition for National Science Funding (more information is available here). The podcast episode highlights Duke University biologist Sheila Patek, whose National Science Foundation grant was featured in a 2015 wastebook published by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). During the “’Wasteful’ Research” event, Patek had the opportunity to explain the value of her research to Sen. Flake himself, and the podcast describes how that meeting went. The episode was also adapted into an episode of the NPR podcast Planet Money.

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Society for Research in Child Development Announces Next Executive Director

The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), a COSSA Governing Member, has announced the appointment of Laura L. Namy, Ph.D. as its next Executive Director. Namy served for 19 years in the Psychology Department and Linguistics Program at Emory University where she founded and supervised the Language and Learning Laboratory and directed the interdisciplinary Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture. She will begin her tenure at SRCD on September 5, replacing Lonnie Sherrod who has served in the position since 2007.

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Senate Subcommittee Discusses FY 2018 NIH Budget, Pledges Support

On June 22, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget request for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Appearing before the committee were NIH Director Francis Collins and six institute and center directors, including Douglas Lowy of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Gary Gibbons of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Richard Hodes of the National Institute of Aging (NIA), Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and Joshua Gordon of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

As previously reported, the Trump Administration’s budget request for NIH seeks a cut of $7 billion or about 22 percent from current levels. The proposed reduction came at the same time Congress was putting the finishing touches on its $2 billion increase for the agency in FY 2017. NIH funding has long been one of the rare instances of unified, bipartisan support in Congress. In fact, at the outset of the hearing, LHHS Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) criticized the President’s request, stating that he “fundamentally disagree[s] with the proposed reduction.” While over the last two years Congress has worked to increase the NIH budget by more than 13 percent, the Administration offers a budget that would result in the loss of 90,000 jobs and $15.3 billion in economic activity, stated the chairman. Subcommittee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) added that the proposed cut would represent the lowest funding level for the agency since 2002. Other Subcommittee members expressed their objection to the request and pledged their support for increased NIH funding again in FY 2018. (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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