Issue 04 (February 16)


SEAN Releases New Expert Consultation on COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) (see COSSA’s previous coverage) has published a new rapid expert consultation, Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence. The guidance compiles research-backed strategies for effectively reaching vulnerable communities and skeptical populations to provide trustworthy information about the COVID-19 vaccine. The consultation is available as an interactive web tool, with highlights on Strategies for Public Engagement to Combat Mistrust and Build COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence and Communication Strategies for Promoting COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance.  The report is also available as a full report on the National Academies website.

COSSA Releases 2021 Rankings of Federal Support for Social Science Research at U.S. Colleges and Universities

On February 16, COSSA released its 2021 College and University Rankings for Federal Social and Behavioral R&D, which highlight the top university recipients of federal research dollars in the social and behavioral sciences. This year’s rankings feature a dashboard with an interactive map of recipients of social and behavioral science R&D funding so you can see how your university stacks up among more than 500 U.S. institutions. Based on the most recent available federal data, the COSSA rankings use an inclusive selection of fields representing the breadth of the social and behavioral sciences to calculate the total federal R&D funding received by universities in the social and behavioral sciences. More information on how the rankings are produced is available on the COSSA website.

The top 10 recipients for 2021 are:

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill* (NC) – $207,442,000 (#1 in 2020)
  2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor* (MI) – $191,060,000 (#2 in 2020)
  3. University of Maryland* (MD) – $95,066,000 (#4 in 2020)
  4. University of Southern California (CA) – $62,945,000 (#5 in 2020)
  5. Arizona State University* (AZ) – $61,642,000 (#7 in 2020)
  6. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities* (MN) – $60,886,000 (#3 in 2020)
  7. Harvard University* (MA) – $53,884,000 (#12 in 2020)
  8. Pennsylvania State University, University Park and Hershey Medical Center* (PA) – $52,060,000 (#8 in 2020)
  9. Duke University* (NC) – $48,507,000 (#15 in 2020)
  10. University of Wisconsin-Madison* (WI) – $47,374,000 (#13 in 2020)

* Denotes COSSA member

FROM THE ARCHIVES: 106th Congress Opens for Business: Impeachment Dominates Early Agenda (January 11, 1999)

In celebration of COSSA’s 40th anniversary, we are diving into the decades of Washington Update archives to share articles from years past that resonate with today’s news.

On January 6th, the 106th Congress commenced. The following day the Senate opened the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. The House, which ended the 105th Congress by impeaching the President in a bitter partisan debate and votes, chose a new Speaker who promised cooperation and a Democratic leader who talked of “burying the hatchet.” Bill Clinton is the first United States President impeached since Andrew Johnson in 1868. Yet, he retains the support of the American people with poll numbers indicating around 70 percent approve of his stewardship of the presidency. Welcome to 1999 in Washington.

Despite the historic events surrounding the impeachment trial, routines continue. The President’s Fiscal Year 2000 budget is currently scheduled for release on February 1 and another year of debating federal spending priorities will begin. Those debates will take place in the context of additional projected budget surpluses and a determination to “save Social Security.” It will take place with so-called “spending caps” still in place that will continue to squeeze discretionary spending. Although Congress demonstrated last year that where there is a will to break the caps, there is a way. As always, leaks have indicated some of the President’s funding priorities: increased defense spending, more dollars for after school programs. A new major initiative in information technology is also expected, which should provide the National Science Foundation some new money. […]

The new Speaker has vowed that the House will pass all 13 appropriations bills by the summer, or “it will not leave town” for the traditional August recess. The Senate is too busy right now with impeachment to worry about enacting appropriations bills on time. Whether the bills pass Congress and are signed by the President before Fiscal Year 2000 begins on October 1, 1999, may depend on how many controversial non-spending policy riders are in the legislation.

Read more from this issue.

Congress Confronts Packed Post-Impeachment To-Do List

For the first time since taking office, the Biden Administration and 117th Congress can work without being consumed by the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill can now forge ahead on a COVID-19 relief package currently being negotiated and with confirmation hearings for Biden appointees. The House is looking to vote on a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package next week, which is expected to pass largely along party lines. The goal is for the House and Senate to send a completed package to the President by March 14 when current unemployment insurance relief expires. On the nominations front, President Biden’s picks to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Education, as well as Attorney General, are all still awaiting confirmation by the Senate. There will be a flurry of activity over the next few weeks to play catch up now that impeachment is complete.

Lawmakers Reintroduce RISE Act

On February 5, a bipartisan group of lawmakers reintroduced the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act. As previously reported, the RISE Act seeks to provide funding relief to federal science agencies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would authorize $25 billion in emergency relief, including $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $3 billion for the National Science Foundation. Funding would be used to support non-COVID-related research that has been impacted or shuttered by the closure of labs resulting from the pandemic. This legislation is different from the $1.9 trillion COVID package discussed elsewhere in this issue; if it is to be enacted, it will need to be considered separately, likely as part of future talks on COVID relief.

NSF Releases New “Understanding the Rules of Life” Solicitation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting applications for a new program within the Understanding the Rules of Life (URoL) Big Idea. The new program, Understanding the Rules of Life: Emergent Networks, seeks to support convergent research to understand the “’rules of emergence’ for networks of living systems and their environments,” described as the “interactions among organismal, environmental, social, and human-engineered systems that are complex and often unexpected given the behaviors of these systems when observed in isolation.” More information is available in the full solicitation. The deadline for proposals is May 20, 2021.

CNSTAT Seeks Nominations for Measuring Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation Study

The Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) within the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has issued a call for nominations for individuals to serve on a committee on Measuring Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The ad hoc committee will develop clear guidelines “outlining the guiding principles and best practices for collecting sexual orientation and gender identity information in research and non-research surveys, along with medical and other administrative records in order to improve the NIH’s ability to identify and address the specific needs of these populations.”

CNSTAT is seeking experts on sexual and gender minority health research; survey design and methodology; statistics; and alternative sources of data, such as administrative records, electronic health records, and other data to serve on the committee.

Nominations are requested by February 22, 2021.


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