Issue 02 (January 23)


After Three-Day Shutdown, Congress Passes Funding through February 8

Congressional leaders came to an agreement on January 22 to reopen the government after a three-day shutdown by passing another stopgap spending bill, this time to keep the government open and flat-funded until February 8. Fiscal year (FY) 2018 started October 1, 2017 and Congress has yet to pass any appropriation bills for the year.

Congress came to the funding impasse on January 19 after the Senate failed to reach an agreement on immigration policy, which will now likely occupy much of Congress’ energy until the continuing resolution expires on February 8, at which point the federal government could be facing yet another shutdown. As COSSA has previously reported, Congress must also come to an agreement on the top-line spending levels allowed by law before finishing the FY 2018 appropriations process. Read more of COSSA’s reporting on FY 2018 here.

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Reduced-Price Registration Available to Students Attending COSSA Conference

COSSA is offering deeply discounted registration rates to students attending the 2018 Science Policy Conference and Social Science Advocacy Day on April 30 and May 1. Undergraduate and graduate students can register for only $50, a savings 75% off the base price for early bird registration. Interested students should send an email to with their program, university, and anticipated year of graduate to receive the discount.

Remember:  All participants affiliated with COSSA member organizations and universities are eligible for a discount on Conference registration. Check your inbox for a previous email from COSSA with the discount code or email Register now— Early bird registration ends January 31!

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Common Rule Implementation Delayed Six Months; Further Delays Likely

The 16 U.S. federal agencies subject to the Common Rule, the set of regulations governing research involving human subjects, announced a six-month delay on the implementation of revisions originally announced in January 2017 (see COSSA’s analysis of the changes). The delay was announced as an Interim Final Rule in a Federal Register notice published on January 17, 2018, two days before the changes were scheduled to go into effect. According to the notice, federal agencies subject to the Common Rule are “in the process of developing a proposed rule to further delay implementation of the 2018 requirements,” and the six-month delay will allow for a full notice and comment period on this proposal. Details on what this second delay would entail—including whether the agencies are considering more substantive changes to the revisions—are not provided. A statement issued by the Department of Health and Human Services suggests a possible proposed implementation date of January 21, 2019, but this could change. As the regulations currently stand, the new implementation date is July 19, 2018.

The fate of the changes had been left in limbo since the presidential transition, as one of the Trump Administrations’ first acts was to freeze the implementation of new regulations pending review by the Office of Management and Budget, leading to uncertainty over when—and whether—the changes would go into effect.

A number of the changes to the Common Rule were designed to make the regulations less burdensome for research that posed no or minimal risk to participants, like a lot of social and behavioral research. Until the changes are implemented, research involving human subjects will continue to be guided by the existing regulations, which have not been updated since 1991. You can follow COSSA’s ongoing coverage of this issue here.

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Chief Statistician Seeks Information on Combining Data

The Chief Statistician of the United States has issued a Request for Information on how best to integrate data from multiple sources to inform the development of standards for using combined data for federal purposes. Specifically, the request is seeking information on: “(1) Current and emerging techniques for linking and analyzing combined data; (2) on-going research on methods to describe the quality of statistical products that result from these techniques; (3) computational frameworks and systems for conducting such work; (4) privacy or confidentiality issues that may arise from combining such data; and (5) suggestions for additional research in those or related areas.” More information can be found in the Federal Register notice. Information should be submitted by March 13, 2018.

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NSF Releases 2018 Science & Engineering Indicators

The National Science Board (NSB), the Presidentially-appointed advisory body to the National Science Foundation (NSF), has released the 2018 edition of its Science and Engineering Indicators, a congressionally-mandated compendium of data “relevant to the scope, quality, and vitality of the science and engineering (S&E) enterprise.” Published every two years, the indicators compile data on science and engineering education and the STEM workforce, international comparisons, and public attitudes toward science and engineering.

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