Issue 17 (September 3)


White House Outlines FY 2021 R&D Budget Priorities

On August 30, Acting Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Russell Vought, with Kelvin Droegemeier, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), issued a joint memorandum to federal agency and department heads on “FY 2021 Administration Research and Development Budget Priorities.” The memo lays out five key White House priorities as agencies begin working on their budget submissions for the next fiscal year and five “high-priority crosscutting actions” for agencies to maximize success in the science and technology enterprise. This is the first set of R&D priorities released under the leadership of Dr. Droegemeier, who was confirmed as OSTP director in January.

The FY 2021 memo shares priorities with previous Administration guidance, including acknowledging the important role of science and technology to America’s global leadership and emphasizing national security, American energy and environmental leadership, medical innovation, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and space exploration as research and development priorities. While the priorities are similar to those included in the FY 2019 and FY 2020 memos, the FY 2021 memo includes more details about ongoing Administration activities, including The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide, National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan, and the Federal Data Strategy.

The memo also includes five actions for agencies to take in order to maximize success in the science and technology enterprise. These direct agencies to build and leverage a diverse, highly skilled American workforce; create and support research environments that reflect American values; support transformative research of high risk and potentially high reward; leverage the power of data; and build, strengthen, and expand strategic multisector partnerships.

Additional details can be found in the memorandum.

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COSSA & AESIS to Partner on Upcoming Conference on the Societal Impact of Social Sciences and Humanities

COSSA is excited to be partnering with the Network for Advancing and Evaluating the Societal Impact of Science (AESIS Network) on an international conference on the Impact of Social Sciences and Humanities on Society in Washington, DC this October 18-19. AESIS is an international, open community for various types of professionals working on stimulating and demonstrating the impact of science on economy, culture and well-being. The Washington event will be the third of its kind organized by AESIS to discuss ways to optimize the impact of research and scholarship specifically in the social sciences and humanities. COSSA is a sponsor of the conference.

The conference will bring together researchers, policy makers, professional societies, evaluators, funders, private sector players, and a variety of stakeholders to tackle questions such as:

  • How to define the social impact of social sciences and humanities;
  • How to measure this impact;
  • How engaging with government, industry and the public as a whole may stimulate the impact of social sciences and humanities.

Registration for the conference is open now. A draft conference program is available online. Organizations interested in sponsoring the event can find more details here.

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September’s Headlines Webchat to Feature Deep Dive with SBE Assistant Director

headlines bannerCOSSA members are encouraged to sign up for the monthly COSSA Headlines webchat on Thursday September 12, in which COSSA staff will recap the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month and answer participants’ questions. The September chat will feature a deep dive discussion with Dr. Arthur Lupia, Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

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Arthur Lupia Answers “Why Social Science?”

why-social-scienceThe latest Why Social Science? guest post comes from Arthur Lupia, Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation, who writes about the breadth of impacts the social sciences have on our lives. Read it here and subscribe.

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State of Play: FY 2020 Appropriations for Social Science Research

Both chambers of Congress will be back in Washington next week and will have only a few weeks to make progress on the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills before FY 2019 ends on September 30. At the time of this writing, 10 of the 12 appropriations bills have been passed by the full House of Representatives. However, the Senate had deferred its consideration of any spending bills (even in subcommittee) until a compromise was reached to provide reprieve from budget caps set in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

On August 2, President Trump signed a two-year budget agreement that provides federal programs relief from these automatic spending cuts. The deal allows Congress to appropriate increases for defense and non-defense discretionary programs, including for research, healthcare, and the upcoming 2020 Census. However, the House bills, as currently written, total about $15 billion more in nondefense spending than the final budget cap negotiated for FY 2020, meaning the House will need to revisit some of its bills when they return September 9 and in some cases make adjustments.

The passage of the budget deal clears the way for Congress to pass FY 2020 funding bills when it returns. We expect the Senate to hit the ground running on appropriations bills in early September. However, with no appropriations bills currently introduced in the Senate and the end of the fiscal year looming on September 30, time is the most critical factor; Congress could face yet another government shutdown unless bills or a continuing resolution (CR) are passed by both chambers and signed by the President before the end of the fiscal year. We predict a CR will be passed to allow policymakers additional time to complete work on FY 2020.

COSSA has been reporting on the status of the FY 2020 House appropriations bills over the last several months. Check out our consolidated analysis of the FY 2020 bills for details.

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Sen. Schatz, Rep. Dean Introduce Legislation to Reestablish Science Advisory Board at the Department of Justice

On July 25, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Madeleine Dean (D-PA) introduced S. 2286 and H.R. 3989, the Improving Justice Programs through Science Act. If enacted, the bill would reestablish a Science Advisory Board at the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) within the Department of Justice to better integrate scientific knowledge to inform crime reduction nationwide and provide scientific backing and evidence-based policies in the OJP’s programs and activities, including grants.

The Board was originally chartered by the Obama Administration in 2010 and since then provided OJP with guidance in several proactive criminal justice reform efforts, including: the importance of trauma-informed care, procedural justice and building trust between police and communities, and youth brain development and implications for juvenile justice programs.

On September 3, COSSA released a statement in support of the bill, which can be read in full on the COSSA website.

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IES Director Seeks Input on Topic Areas, Announces Possible Request for Applications

Mark Schneider, the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the research, evaluation, and statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Education, announced in a blog post on August 13 that he is considering three new topic-specific requests for applications (RFAs) and seeking comment on the topics around which IES research is structured.

The three proposed off-cycle RFAs are “using state longitudinal data systems to measure long-term outcomes,” “using NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] process data,” and “systematic evaluation of widely used math and reading programs.” The blog post includes more details about the proposed RFAs and a request that the community provide input into whether they are worthwhile and whether the challenges that come with these large questions are surmountable.

Additionally, Schneider is seeking input on the 13 topic areas within the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and the 12 topic areas within the National Center for Special Education Research. In particular, he is interested in whether any of the topic areas are no longer necessary to be funded, and if any other topic areas are missing from the two centers.

Input should be sent directly to the IES director at The blog post can be read on the IES website.

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National Academies Release Report on Strengthening Support Systems for Military Families

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) released a consensus study report on the social challenges affecting the families of military service members and potential solutions. The report covers a wide array of issues including the well-being of military families, demographic characteristics of military families, opportunities and challenges of military life, stressors affecting military children, high-stress events, and the efficacy of existing military family support systems. The report also illustrates several recommendations for the Department of Defense (DOD) to address these issues including standardizing definitions of “family well-being,” improving understanding of diversity in the military, using data to track child risk and adversity, recognizing non-traditional family structures, providing guidance to military leaders on interacting with surrounding communities, promoting civilian understanding of military family situations, strengthening of the Military Family Readiness System (MFRS), monitoring existing support programs’ effectiveness, improving use of big data to analyze programs, and updating instruction and training to reflect the findings of the report.

The National Academies will be holding a public event on September 12 to discuss the recommendations in the report and potential actions that DOD and practitioners may take to address these recommendations. More information about the event can be found on the National Academies website.

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