Issue 23 (November 26)


COSSA Welcomes the University of Arkansas

COSSA is pleased to welcome the University of Arkansas as its newest member. Located in Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas receives more than $2 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.

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President Signs One-Month Continuing Resolution, Temporarily Averting Government Shutdown

The President signed a one-month continuing resolution (CR) on November 21 to keep the government operating at fiscal year (FY) 2019 levels until December 20. FY 2020 began on October 1 and while both the House of Representatives and the Senate have made progress on passing individual bills, contentious issues like top-line funding levels and funding for a wall on the southern U.S. border have kept Congress from finalizing FY 2020 spending. A notable exception to the flat funding required by the CR is additional funding authority given to the Census Bureau as the agency prepares for the 2020 Decennial Census. The CR provides the Census Bureau with $7.3 billion for Periodic Censuses and Programs, which includes the 2020 Census and is in line with the amount proposed by the Senate. See COSSA’s analysis of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill here and analysis of all of the House and Senate appropriations bills affecting social and behavioral science here.

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COSSA Seeks Nominations for 2020 Public Impact Award

COSSA is seeking nominations for the 2020 COSSA Public Impact Award, which recognizes individuals, groups, and/or organizations who are using social and behavioral science research to affect real change in society.

COSSA established the award in 2019, to celebrate the many ways social and behavioral science research is being used to achieve notable improvements in communities. The inaugural COSSA Public Impact Award was presented to The Lab @ DC in April 2019 in recognition of its work in improving programs and services to the citizens of the District of Columbia through methods and research in the social sciences.

Nominations may be submitted using this form. Self nominations are permitted. COSSA is committed to equal opportunity for all persons, without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or other protected categories. COSSA seeks as diverse a pool of award nominations as possible, including a wide range of disciplines, institutional types, and geographic locations. Nominations are due by 5:00 pm EST on December 2, 2019.

Awardees will be chosen by the COSSA Board of Directors. The Award will be presented at a reception held in conjunction with COSSA’s annual Social Science Advocacy Day in Washington, DC in March 2020.

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Rush Holt Answers “Why Social Science?”

why-social-scienceThe latest Why Social Science? guest post comes from Rush Holt, CEO Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, who writes about how social science creates systems for understanding the world around us. Read it here and subscribe.

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Senate Subcommittee Releases Report, Holds Hearing on Securing U.S. Research from Foreign Talent Recruitment Plans

On November 18, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee released a staff report on federal agencies’ efforts to protect the U.S. research enterprise from illegal technology transfer and research espionage occurring through foreign talent recruitment activities such as China’s Thousand Talents Plan. The report offers details of prevention activities employed at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of State, the Department of Commerce (DOC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as well as a series of recommendations to improve these agencies’ efforts to prevent foreign interference in the U.S. research enterprise. The report can be found on PSI website.

A day later, PSI held a hearing to address the findings of the staff report and to improve upon current federal agency efforts to prevent intellectual property theft and technology transfer through foreign talent recruitment programs. Witnesses included Assistant Director of Counterintelligence at the FBI John Brown, Head of the Office of International Science and Engineering at NSF Rebecca Keiser, Deputy Director for Extramural Research at NIH Michael Lauer, Director of the Office of Science at DOE Christopher Fall, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services at the Bureau of Consular Affairs (BCA) Edward Ramotowski.

PSI Chairman Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE), and other Members questioned the witnesses on the findings of the staff report and on agency knowledge of Chinese efforts to exploit the U.S. research enterprise. Several salient issues were discussed, such as agency efforts to harmonize security infrastructure and policies, ethics concerns over FBI investigations of international students, potential gaps in the visa control process, and raising awareness of security problems among the academic community. Statements from Portman, Carper, and a video recording of the hearing is available on the PSI website.

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PCAST Holds First Meeting, Swears in New Members

On November 18, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) held its first meeting since the council was reconstituted in October. The meeting included discussions of possible work streams for PCAST, opportunities for collaboration with the National Science Board (the advisory body of the National Science Foundation), and updates on White House initiatives. Additionally, Kelvin Droegemeier, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Chair of PCAST, swore in two new PCAST members: Shannan Blunt, professor of electoral engineering and computer science at the University of Kansas, and Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska, Associate Dean at the Ohio State University Colleague of Engineering. Their appointment follows the announcement from Droegemeier that PCAST will include “several scholars from academia” after the first wave of PCAST appointees were nearly all from the private sector. The meeting’s webcast and agenda can be found on the ‘Department of Energy’s website.

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NIH Requesting Comments on Newly Released Draft Policy for Data Management and Sharing

On November 6, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a draft of the new NIH Policy on Data Management and Sharing. The policy is intended to clarify rules on the handling and sharing of potentially sensitive NIH data while allowing access to the data to be more available for use in research. The draft policy requires all NIH-funded research resulting in the generation of scientific data to be submitted alongside a Data Management and Sharing Plan outlining any potential restrictions or limitations of data management.

NIH is accepting public comments on the draft policy until January 10, 2020. More information about NIH’s data management policy can be found on the NIH website.

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NEH Releases 2020 Summer Programs for Teachers

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has released information about its 2020 tuition-free summer programs, which it offers each year to provide an opportunity for K-12, college, and university educators to study a variety of humanities topics. These programs focus on specific topics, texts, and questions in the humanities and promote connections between teaching and research in the humanities. Additionally, NEH offers stipends to help cover the cost of travel and living expenses for these one- to four-week programs. The applications for summer 2020 programs are due March 1, 2020. More information and a list of topics is available on the NEH website.

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National Academies Launches Committee on Science and Innovation Leadership for the 21st Century

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy and Committee on Science, Technology, and Law have established an ad hoc committee on “Science and Innovation Leadership for the 21st Century: Challenges and Strategic Implications for the United States.” The committee will produce a consensus report with recommendations on how to “1) draw attention to the most overlooked challenges, based on current research on U.S. competitiveness and trade, technology, and innovation policies; 2) develop a future agenda for needed research in areas that have not been fully explored; 3) identify current government infrastructure that hinders the United States’ ability to address these challenges; and 4) produce recommendations for the federal government to effectively meet these challenges.” The Committee’s first workshop took place on October 24, with a second workshop scheduled for December 6. More information is available on the National Academies website.

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