Issue 13 (June 26)


Trump Administration Releases Proposal to Reorganize the Federal Government

The Trump Administration released its comprehensive plan to restructure and reorganize the federal government on June 21, Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century, which includes proposals to make major changes to the federal bureaucracy and social safety net programs. This plan continues efforts by the Administration to restructure and reduce the size of the federal government. Implementing the majority of the reforms proposed would require Congressional action—and are therefore unlikely to be realized—but they provide clear insight into the priorities of the Administration and serve as a blueprint for possible actions over the next few years.

The plan proposes sweeping reorganization and consolidation of federal departments and agencies, including combining the Departments of Labor and Education into a single “Department of Education and the Workforce,” and moving several public assistance programs into the Department of Health and Human Services and renaming it the “Department of Health and Public Welfare.” Generally, with a few notable exceptions, agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences are left largely intact. Of the major changes in the plan, the proposals most likely to affect the social and behavioral sciences (each discussed in detail below) would:

  • Merge the Departments of Education and Labor and change federal student aid servicing at the Department of Education.
  • Consolidate the administration of graduate fellowships from multiple agencies under the National Science Foundation.
  • Move the Bureau of Labor Statistics to the Department of Commerce.
  • Establish a public-private government effectiveness research center.
  • Set government-wide polices for evaluation.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the government-wide reorganization proposals, keeping in mind that most of the changes would require Congressional action, which is not likely at this time. As for next steps, the report states that the Administration will now “begin a dialogue with Congress to prioritize and refine proposals to best serve the American people.”

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COSSA Seeks Fall Interns

COSSA is accepting internship applications for the 2018 fall semester. The opportunity is open to undergraduate students who wish to learn about advocacy/lobbying, policy impacting social science, and/or non-profit organizations. Responsibilities include conducting research to assist COSSA staff with their lobbying activities and coverage of events, such as Congressional hearings, federal agency advisory committee meetings, community and coalition events, which may result in a written product, such as a contribution to the COSSA Washington Update. More information is available in the internship description. Applications will be evaluated as they are received, so apply now!

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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science Bill

On June 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Bill; the bill was marked up in subcommittee on June 12. The CJS bill serves as the vehicle for annual appropriations for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Census Bureau, National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), and many other federal departments and agencies. The House Appropriations Committee passed its bill on May 17. Read COSSA’s full analysis of the House bill here.

At a Glance…

  • The Senate CJS bill includes $8.1 billion for NSF in FY 2019, which is 3.9 percent above the FY 2018 enacted level and 8 percent above the President’s request, but about 1 percent below the House’s proposal.
  • The Senate bill would provide NIJ with $42 million and BJS with $48 million, flat with the FY 2018 enacted level and 17 percent above the President’s request for both agencies.
  • The Senate bill would provide the Census Bureau with a total of $3.82 billion for FY 2019, which is slightly higher than the Administration’s request (+$21 million) but nearly $1 billion below the House’s proposal.

The next step for the bill is consideration by the full Senate. It remains to be seen whether/how Senate leadership will proceed with the individual appropriations bills this year, but with most of the Senate’s August recess cancelled, more time is available for considering the spending bills. However, the entire House is up for reelection and other priorities remain to be considered, so it is still likely that FY 2019 will begin under a continuing resolution (CR) on October 1, 2018.

Read on for COSSA’s analysis of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s proposals for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the Census Bureau.

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Full Implementation of Common Rule Delayed through January 2019

On June 19, the Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule adopting a proposal released in April to delay the compliance date for revisions to the Common Rule (the set of regulations governing research involving human participants) by six months. COSSA submitted comment on this proposal asking that the implementation of the new regulations not be delayed any further than is necessary. The new compliance date for the majority of the new regulations is now January 21, 2019. However, beginning on July 19, 2018, institutions (on a study-by-study basis) may choose to adopt three “burden-reducing” provisions early (so long as the studies move into full compliance with the new regulations after they go into effect in January 2019). The burden-reducing provisions include: the revised definition of research; the elimination of requiring annual continuing review for certain categories of research; and elimination of requiring IRBs to review grant applications and funding proposals. See COSSA’s previous summary of this proposal for a comparison of the text of the current and new provisions.

While the fate of the revisions to the Common Rule has been in limbo since the Presidential transition in 2017 (see COSSA’s previous coverage), barring some unforeseen intervention by the Administration, the issuance of this final rule appears to be the last step before the regulations can go into effect. In its response to comments submitted, OHRP notes, “We do not believe a delay of the general compliance date beyond January 21, 2019 is necessary.”

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Emilda Rivers Appointed to Lead NCSES

Emilda B. Rivers has been appointed to lead the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), the principal statistical agency housed within the National Science Foundation (NSF), effective June 24. Prior to her appointment, Rivers was NCSES’ Acting Division Director, following the retirement of the previous director, John Gawalt. Rivers has been with NCSES since 2003, serving as Deputy Division Director and leading its largest division, the Human Resources Statistics Program. She has also worked for the Census Bureau and the Department of Energy.

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Academies Report Recommends Strategies to Address Sexual Harassment in Academia

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released a new consensus study report, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report details the impacts of sexual harassment in terms of damage to research integrity and loss of talent and argues that institutions should view sexual harassment as “equally important as research misconduct in terms of its effect on the integrity of research.” The report makes seven broad recommendations for how academic institutions can better address and prevent sexual harassment: address gender harassment (sexist hostility and crude behavior); move beyond legal compliance to address culture and climate; create diverse, inclusive, and respectful environments; improve transparency and accountability; diffuse the hierarchical and dependent relationship between trainees and faculty; provide support for targets of harassment; and strive for strong and diverse leadership. The complete report and supplementary materials are available on the National Academies website.

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Innovation: An American Imperative Releases Progress Report

In celebration of the third anniversary of Innovation: An American Imperative, a group of the endorsing organizations issued a report on the progress made by Congress on areas of focus highlighted in the original 2015 report.

The Innovation Imperative effort brought U.S. industry, higher education, science and engineering organizations, including COSSA, together to urge Congress to enact policies and make investments to help ensure the United States remains the global innovation leader.

The original statement on congressional progress provided seven areas of focus for congressional action moving forward: renewing the federal commitment to scientific discovery by ending sequestration level spending caps and providing steady and sustained funding growth; permanently strengthening the R&D tax credit; reforming visa policies; improving STEM education; streamlining or eliminating costly and inefficient regulations; reaffirming merit-based peer review; and stimulating improvements in advanced manufacturing.

The progress report notes the congressional progress on making permanent a strengthened federal R&D tax credit and reaffirming merit-based peer review. The report also notes that Congress has taken steps toward renewing the federal commitment to scientific discovery and streamlining costly and inefficient regulations but has not completely enacted these changes. Find more information on the Innovation Imperative website.

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