Issue 22 (November 13)


COSSA Welcomes the University of Arizona

COSSA is pleased to welcome the University of Arizona as its newest member. Located in Tucson, the University of Arizona receives nearly $9 million in federal social and behavioral science funding annually. COSSA’s full membership list is available here. Information on how to join can be found on the COSSA website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Democrats Take Control of the House in Midterm Elections; Congress Returns for Lame Duck Session

Congress returns to Washington this week for the first time since early October. Lawmakers are returning to what many expected to be the outcome of the midterm elections, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives and Republicans maintaining control of the Senate.

The Senate margin currently stands at 51 Republicans and 46 Democrats, with a run-off election scheduled in Mississippi, a recount of votes in Florida, and a race in Arizona still too close to call. The contests in Florida and Arizona are considered toss-ups while the Mississippi race is expected to stay in Republican hands. As many expected, the Democrats will have a strong majority in the House of Representatives come January with a current majority of 227 members to the Republican’s 198, with nearly a dozen races still too close to call. At this time, the House Democrats have gained 32 seats and the House Republicans have lost the same amount. Notable losses include several Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee, including Representative John Culberson (R-TX), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, and Science; Kevin Yoder (R-KS); David Young (R-IA); and Scott Taylor (R-VA). Several Republican members of the House Science Committee also lost their reelection bids, including Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Steve Knight (R-CA). Taken with the retirement of Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX), this will result in an overhaul of the Republican roster on the Science Committee in the coming Congress. It will be some time before committee assignments for the 116th Congress will be made.

At the top of the agenda for the next few weeks is finalizing the remaining fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending bills. About half of the spending bills have been signed into law, but funding for the National Science Foundation, Census Bureau, Department of Agriculture, and many other agencies is still not complete. The current continuing resolution ends on December 7 with Republicans anxious to complete the spending bills before Democrats take control of the House. Read about the state of play for FY 2019 appropriations here.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

President Appoints Five New Members of the National Science Board, Reappoints Two Members

On November 5, President Trump announced his intent to make five appointments to the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The selections include reappointments of former NSB chair Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Geraldine Richmond of the University of Oregon. Two of the new appointees, Alan Stern and Stephen Willard, have backgrounds in the private sector. Dr. Stern is considered to be a champion of commercial space activities and has worked for Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. Mr. Willard is currently the CEO of a biotechnology firm after earlier careers in law and investment banking. The three other appointees will join the NSB from universities. Steven Leath is currently the President of Auburn University, after a career in agricultural research; Suresh Garimella is a professor of mechanical engineering and former vice president for research at Perdue University; and Maureen Condic is on faculty at the University of Utah and has focused her work on human neurological development, including testifying before congress on the ability of fetuses to experience pain during early stages of development and opposing research on embryonic stem cells.

Board members are nominated by the President to serve six-year terms, with the opportunity for renewal. In addition to Drs. Zuber and Richmond, the terms of six members of the NSB expired in May, meaning that education researcher Deborah Ball, internet founder Vinton Cerf, and four other NSB members were not selected for renewal. The NSB will hold its first meeting with the new appointees on November 28 and 29.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Comments Sought on Federal Data Strategy Best Practices

As recommended in the President’s Management Agenda released back in March, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been leading the development of a government-wide Federal Data Strategy to better manage the government’s data resources and improve the accessibility and usability of federal date for decision-making. The developers have finalized ten principles to guide the strategy across the themes of Ethical Governance, Conscious Design, and Learning Culture and are seeking comments on 47 aspirational best practices that are intended to “inform agency actions on a regular basis, to be continually relevant, and to be sufficiently general so as to broadly apply at all federal agencies and across all missions.” The practices are grouped according to five broad objectives: Govern and Manage Data as a Strategic Asset, Protect and Secure Data, Promote Efficient Use of Data Assets, Build a Culture that Values Data as an Asset, and Honor Stakeholder Input and Leverage Partners. Comments on the draft practices are due by November 16, 2018. Instructions for submitting feedback and the complete list of practices are available on the Data Strategy website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

White House Science Council Seeks Feedback on Opioid R&D Roadmap

The White House National Science and Technology Council is accepting comments on a report, Health Research and Development to Stem the Opioid Crisis: A National Roadmap. The report was produced by the Opioid Fast Track Action Committee (FTAC), co-chaired by Fay Lomax Cook, former Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Wilson M. Compton, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The report is intended to support the federal response to the opioid crisis by identifying areas for research and development (R&D) to address knowledge gaps related to opioid use, abuse, and treatment as well as opportunities for improving coordination of related federal R&D efforts.  The report describes seven overarching areas of R&D, including several with direct relevance to the social and behavioral sciences: Biology and Chemistry of Pain and Opioid Addiction, Non-Biological Contributors to Opioid Addiction, Pain Management, Prevention of Opioid Addiction, Treatment of Opioid Addiction and Withdrawal, Overdose Prevention and Recovery, and Community Consequences of Opioid Addiction. Comments are due by December 5, 2018. Instructions for responding are posted on the NIH website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.


Past Newsletters



Browse 40 years of the COSSA Washington Update.