Issue 10 (May 15)


House Appropriations Subcommittees Begin Marking Up Spending Legislation

The House Appropriations Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) and Agriculture and Rural Development (Ag) hosted markups last week on drafts of their fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending bills. The CJS bill, which is responsible for funding the Census, the Department of Justice, and federal science agencies, among other programs, includes $8.2 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a $408 million increase above the FY 2018 enacted amount. The Ag bill, which includes funding for the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, does not endorse the large cut to the Economic Research Service (ERS) proposed in the President’s FY 2019 budget request. Full details of the committee’s spending recommendations are not yet public, but COSSA will provide complete analysis of the spending bills as language is made available. Stay tuned to COSSA’s coverage here. Both bills are scheduled to be considered by the full Appropriations Committee later this week.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

CJRA and COSSA to Host “Ask a Criminologist” Panel on How the Opioid Epidemic and Police-Community Relations Impact Homicides

COSSA and the Crime & Justice Research Alliance (CJRA) (a collaborative effort of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and the American Society of Criminology, both COSSA members) will host the third in a series of “Ask a Criminologist” Congressional briefings on Tuesday, May 22. This interactive briefing will explore key factors, including the opioid epidemic, that led to an increase in homicide rates in communities across the United States in 2015 and 2016 and share how criminologists have been using research and statistics to help policymakers identify and address these causes. The discussion will be moderated by CJRA Past Chair Dr. Nancy La Vigne of the Urban Institute, and featured speakers will include Dr. Howard Spivak, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Justice; Richard Biehl, Chief of Police for the City of Dayton, Ohio; and Dr. Shytierra Gaston, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Indiana University.  More information and a link to RSVP can be found here.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Congress Questions Commerce, Census on Citizenship Question

Members of Congress questioned Commerce Department and Census Bureau leadership last week over the decision to include a question on citizenship in the 2020 Census. COSSA objects to this decision and has issued a statement and action alert on this issue.

On May 8, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a progress report hearing on the 2020 Census. Witnesses included Earl Comstock, Director of the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning at the Commerce Department (testimony); Ron Jarmin, Acting Director of the Census Bureau (testimony); David A. Powner and Robert Goldenkoff of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) (testimony); and Justin Levitt, Associate Dean for Research at Loyola Law School, who previously served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Justice Department during the Obama Administration (testimony). Invited but not present at the hearing was the current Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, John Gore, who is reported to have spearheaded the request that the citizenship question be added to the Census. Committee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said that he would issue a subpoena to compel Gore to appear before the Committee. A hearing featuring Gore was subsequently scheduled for Friday, May 18, 2018. Democrats on the Committee criticized the decision to add the citizenship question, questioning the necessity of the Justice Department’s request, and Ross’s conclusion that the question is “well-tested” because it has appeared on the American Community Survey. Committee Republicans generally defended the decision and were dismissive of concerns that adding the question without having tested it in a Census environment would add unnecessary risks to the accuracy and integrity of census data.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross made his first appearance before Congress since announcing his decision to add the question to the decennial during a May 10 hearing on the Commerce Department budget in front of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. Ross defended his decision in the face of sharp questioning from subcommittee Democrats, including Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-VT), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

National Science Board Elects New Leadership

On May 3, the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation, announced that Diane Souvaine and Ellen Ochoa will serve as the Board’s new Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, for the 2018-2020 term. Souvaine has been a member of the NSB for ten years and most recently served as the Vice Chair. Souvaine is a professor of computer science at Tufts University whose research contributions include solving challenging problems in computational geometry and helping extend the results of straight-edged computational geometry into the curved world. Ochoa is an astronaut and the director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Souvaine will be replacing Maria Zuber, whose term expired this month. More information about Souviane and Ochoa’s election is available on the NSB website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

NSF and Air Force Sign Letter of Intent

On May 9, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France CĂłrdova signed a Letter of Intent to create a new partnership for collaboration on science and engineering research to strengthen national security. The strategic partnership will focus on research in space operations and geosciences, advanced material sciences, information and data sciences, and workforce and processes. These common areas of interest will create opportunities for cooperation at all levels of research and a pathway between basic research supported by NSF and advanced technologies needed to support Air Force functions.

The two agencies have already had initial discussions on research topics, including the convergence of artificial intelligence, data and materials, and placements for fellows from NSF’s Graduate Research Intern Program. More information can be found on the NSF website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.


Past Newsletters



Browse 40 years of the COSSA Washington Update.