Issue 04 (February 20)


Trump Releases FY 2019 Budget Request; Read COSSA’s Analysis of Social Science Impacts

On February 12, the Trump Administration began releasing details of its fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request to Congress, although details for some agencies (such as the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health) have yet to be released and are expected in the coming days or weeks. In light of a recent bipartisan agreement to increase discretionary spending over the next two years, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released an addendum to the FY 2019 budget outlining a number of adjustments to the budget request. However, the President’s views the new spending caps as a “ceiling” for FY 2019 funding, not as a funding target. As such, the request violates the budget deal by seeking to shift $57 billion away from nondefense discretionary spending and over to the defense side of the ledger.

The bottom line when considering the Trump Administration’s proposals for FY 2019 is that it remains a political, largely symbolic document that outlines the Administration’s priorities for the year ahead; take note of the policy priorities contained within the budget as they could shape some legislative and/or executive actions later in the year. However, Congress is not likely to go along with the bulk of the President’s recommendations, especially cuts for research and domestic programs writ large.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the President’s proposals as they pertain to social and behavioral science research. Supplements to this report will be issued as additional agency details are released.

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Don’t Forget to Register for COSSA Science Policy Conference & Advocacy Day

There is still time to register for COSSA’s 2018 Science Policy Conference and Social Science Advocacy Day on April 30-May 1 in Washington, DC! More information about the conference is available on COSSA’s website. 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 And undergraduate and graduate students can register for only $50, an 80% savings off the base price. Interested students should send an email to with their program, university, and anticipated year of graduate to receive the discount.

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Congress Passes Bipartisan Budget Deal to Raise Spending Caps, Keep Government Open Until March 23

On February 9, Congressional leaders reached an agreement on a two-year deal to raise the budget caps that have limited federal spending since 2011. As COSSA has previously reported, these spending caps have limited the ability of Congress to pass full-year appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2018 and diminished the chances of federal science agencies would see funding increases.

The budget deal, known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, increases discretionary spending by $385 billion above the existing caps for the next two years. This increase includes $131 billion in non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding, which includes federal research funding. The deal also includes additional funds to areas affected by natural disasters and funds for the Census Bureau to continue to prepare for the 2020 Census. This budget agreement is seen as major progress in a difficult fiscal and political environment.

Next on the appropriations agenda will be funding the government after March 23. The budget deal that passed on February 9 included another continuing resolution (CR) to maintain FY 2017 funding levels through March 23 to give Congressional leaders more time to finalize FY 2018 spending. Read COSSA’s full coverage of FY 2018 appropriations here.

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NSF Issues 2018-2022 Strategic Plan

Alongside the release of the fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request (see related article), the National Science Foundation issued its latest five-year strategic plan, Building the Future: Investing in Discovery and Innovation, NSF Strategic Plan for FY 2018-2022. The new report outlines the agency’s strategic goals and objectives, which include: (1) expand knowledge in science, engineering, and learning; (2) advance the capability of the Nation to meet current and future challenges; and (3) enhance NSF’s performance of its mission.

The plan also states that a “Performance Plan for FY 2019” has been developed and that it includes the following “Agency Priority Goal”: “Expand public and private partnerships to enhance the impact of NSF’s investments and contribute to American economic competitiveness and security.” Regarding this goal, the strategic plan states that “by September 30, 2019, NSF’s number of partnerships and/or award actions with other federal agencies, private industry, and foundations/philanthropies will grow by 5 percent…” The plan also lists three long-term performance goals: (1) ensure that key FY 2019 NSF-wide program investments are implemented and on track; (2) ensure program integrity and responsible stewardship of major research facilities and infrastructure; and (3) inform applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding in a timely manner. Full details of NSF’s FY 2019 Performance Plan are not currently public since NSF has not yet released its complete FY 2019 budget request.

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American Academy of Arts and Sciences Issues Perceptions of Science in America Report

On February 12, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a COSSA member, issued a new report assessing the current state of public trust for science in the U.S. Perceptions of Science in America is the first report to be issued as part of the Academy’s ‘Public Face of Science project, a three-year activity that looks to better understand and explain the complex relationship between the scientific community and the public.

Drawing from existing public opinion survey data sources, including government and non-governmental surveys, the report identifies three main takeaways about the state of science among public audiences: (1) confidence in scientific leaders has remained relatively stable over the last 30 years; (2) confidence in science varies based on age, race, educational attainment, region, political ideology, and other characteristics; and (3) there is no single anti-science population, but more research is needed to understand what drives skepticism about specific scientific issues.

Check out the Academy’s website for details.

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