Issue 15 (July 20)
Over the last few weeks, the House Appropriations Committee began considering its annual appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2022, including the bills that fund federal science, research, and data activities. At least on the House side, the FY 2022 bills are in many ways a stark contrast to the spending measures we have seen over the last several years. This is for a few reasons. First, the spending caps that have placed limits on discretionary spending over the last decade expired in FY 2021 and new ones have not yet been set. Second, it is common to see major new investments in the first year of a new Presidential Administration, especially when the House and Senate are of the same party. It is a time for the new Administration and Congress to make their priorities known and set a marker for future directions. It is likely that spending caps will come back into play in the coming year or so, leaving many to believe that FY 2022 is the best opportunity to seek long-desired increases and make down payments for future budget goals.
While in many cases the House bills fall short of the amounts requested by the Biden Administration, federal science agencies would still see major budget increases nearly across the board, with the exception of DOD research.
House leaders have announced plans to bring a minibus package containing the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Agriculture bills, among others, to the House floor the week of July 26. While plans for the Commerce, Justice, Science and Defense bills have not yet been announced, House leaders have not ruled out considering other appropriations bills at the same time. Of course, this is just half the story. Timing for consideration of the FY 2022 spending bills in the Senate remains unclear as that chamber is currently focused on infrastructure legislation and emergency funding to support Capitol security. Senate appropriators hope to begin consideration of their bills before the August recess; however, subcommittee and committee markups have not yet been scheduled.
Read on for COSSA’s analysis of the House FY 2022 funding bills for federal agencies and programs important to the social and behavioral science research community. COSSA will continue to report on the status of FY 2022 funding legislation as the process unfolds.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: PCAST Issues STEM Education Report: Social Sciences Not Part of K-12 STEM (September 27, 2010)
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 September 15, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST) released its long-awaited report on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education. Entitled Prepare and Inspire: K‐12 Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) For America’s Future, the report was shepherded through PCAST by co‐chair Eric Lander, head of the Broad Institute and a major geneticist, and S. James Gates, Jr., John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park. […]
According to PCAST, “STEM education, as used in this report, includes the subjects of mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics, which have traditionally formed the core requirements of many state curricula at the K‐12 level. In addition, the report includes other critical subjects, such as computer science, engineering, environmental science and geology, with whose fundamental concepts K‐12 students should be familiar. The report does not include the social and behavioral sciences, such as economics, anthropology, and sociology; while appropriately considered STEM fields at the undergraduate and graduate levels, they involve very different issues at the K‐12 level.” […]
Later, the PCAST report notes: “The dynamic nature of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics ‐ where new advances are constantly expanding our knowledge of the physical, biological, and social world ‐ has enormous implications for STEM education.” However, there is no indication that helping students understand changes in the social world by learning social and behavioral science is something that is part of STEM education.
The report calls for the federal government to create a mission‐driven, advanced research projects agency for education (ARPA‐ED) housed either in the Department of Education, in the National Science Foundation, or as a joint entity. “ARPA‐ED should propel and support (i) the development of innovative technologies and technology platforms for learning, teaching, and assessment across all subjects and ages and (ii) the development of effective, integrated, whole‐course materials for STEM education.” Once again technology will solve a national problem.
On July 15, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) held a hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Robert L. Santos, the Biden Administration’s nominee to lead the U.S. Census Bureau (see previous coverage). In his opening statement, Santos, the current president of the American Statistical Association, described himself as a “a scientist, executive level manager, policy researcher, and long-time friend and supporter of the Census Bureau and the entire federal statistical system” and noted that while he would be serving in a politically appointed role, he is “not a politician.” COSSA joined over 30 stakeholder organizations in endorsing Santos’ nomination.
During the hearing, Santos fielded questions about improving the morale of career staff at the Census Bureau after the Trump Administration’s handling of the 2020 Census, how the lessons from the 2020 Census can be applied to planning for the next decennial census, best ways to reach non-English speakers, maintaining a robust sample size for the American Community Service for smaller geographic areas, revisions to standard race and ethnicity questions, and states’ needs for 2020 Census redistricting data, which was delayed by the pandemic and is scheduled to be released in August. A vote on Santos’ confirmation has not yet been scheduled.
A full webcast of the hearing is available on the HSGAC website.
On July 13, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship held a hearing to discuss if current U.S. immigration policies are pushing foreign-born talent to other countries, specifically Canada, including talent in science and research. The subcommittee heard testimony from Executive Director of the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) Stuart Anderson; Associate Professor at Howard University Dr. Ronil Hira; Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dr. Sudip Parikh; and Chief Executive Officer of Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) Jennifer G. Young.
Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ranking member Tom McClintock (R-CA) opened the hearing with opposing visions of U.S. immigration policy. Rep. Lofgren claimed U.S. immigration policies are outdated and should be revamped to compete in the global economy. She mentioned that the current immigration system risks pushing top talent to countries like Canada who have dedicated programs for high-skilled immigrant workers. Rep. McClintock agreed that there needs to be changes made to our immigration policy, but argued that U.S. immigration policies place Americans last and foreign labor first, creating a system that allows employers to “fill positions of wages substantially less than the domestic labor market would otherwise command.”
Witnesses’ testimony led to some discussion on the benefits to scientific research. In particular, Dr. Parikh highlighted the value of foreign-born researchers in the U.S., stating, “According the National Science Foundation, more than 50% of post-doctoral researchers and 28% of science and engineering faculty are immigrants. And 38% of the scientific Nobel prizes that have been awarded to Americans since 2000, were awarded to immigrants.” Dr. Parikh and other witnesses agreed that immigration reform was necessary to energize the U.S. research enterprise as some Republican members of the committee levied concerns about uncontrolled immigration and the loss of American jobs.
The witnesses’ testimonies and a full recording of the hearing are available on the House Judiciary Committee website.
This article was contributed by COSSA’s summer intern, Lillian Chmielewska of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will hold a series of public virtual listening sessions to inform its assessment of federal scientific integrity policies pursuant to President Biden’s January memorandum on science integrity and evidence-based policymaking. These sessions will complement an open request for information on science integrity and evidence-based policymaking (see previous coverage). Each of the three listening sessions will focus on a different theme:
- July 28: Communication
- July 29: Science and Education
- July 30: Use of Scientific and Technical Information
More details and information on how to register for the listening sessions is available on the OSTP website.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) have announced the dates for a series of virtual listening sessions to receive feedback from scientific societies, patient advocacy groups, industry, and other stakeholders about potential projects and priorities for Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), the proposed new agency to be housed within NIH dedicated to high-risk, high-reward research applied to solve broad societal problems (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). The listening sessions, which will be broken up by topical focus, may include a variety of formats including large, public discussions and small, invitation-only meetings. The following sessions and dates have been announced so far:
- July 22: Advocates for Research on Cancer, Disorders of the Heart, Lungs, Blood, and Environmental Health
- July 23: Advocates for Research on Aging, Arthritis, and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disorders
- July 26: Advocates for Research on Eye Disease and Visual Impairment, Deafness and Communication Disorders, and Dental and Craniofacial Disorders
- July 30: Advocates for Research on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and Nursing
- August 2: Advocates for Research on Addiction and Alcoholism
- August 3: Advocates for Research on Diabetes, Digestive Disorders and Kidney Disease, Child and Maternal Health, and Complementary and Integrative Medicine
- August 4: Advocates for Biomedical and Translational Research and General Medicine
- August 5: Advocates for Research on Allergies and Infectious Diseases, and Global Health
- August 11: Advocates for Research on Genomics, Biomedical Engineering and Imaging, and Health Informatics, and Medical Libraries
- August 16: Advocates for Research on Neurology and Mental Health
A list of the listening sessions and registration information is available on the NIH website.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting applications for the position of Division Director for the Social and Economic Sciences (SES) Division within the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE). The Division Director “serves as a member of the directorate’s leadership team and as a principal NSF spokesperson for social and economic sciences.” More information on the position can be found in the Dear Colleague Letter from SBE. Applications may be submitted through USAJOBS and are being accept through August 6, 2021.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a Request for Information inviting feedback from stakeholders on the outline of the upcoming NIAAA Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2022-2026. The strategic plan outline, which is included in the request, contains several cross-cutting themes including promoting health equity and diversity in alcohol research spaces, identifying unique risks for alcohol misuse, advancing research on co-occurring conditions with alcohol misuse, supporting new technologies on diagnosis of alcoholism, increasing the use of data science in alcohol research, and encouraging collaboration between alcohol research and other topics.
The outline also notes three major goals for the institute:
- Identify and track the biological, social, environmental, and behavioral causes and consequences of alcohol misuse;
- Prevent and reduce alcohol misuse and associated developmental effects, health conditions, and acute harms;
- Advance diagnosis and treatment of alcohol-related conditions.
Comments will be accepted through July 30 and may be submitted through an online form on the NIH website.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting nominations for the Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest honor awarded by the NSF to early-career researchers. The annual award recognizes an outstanding young researcher, 40 years of age or younger or no more than 10 years beyond receipt of their Ph.D., in any field of science or engineering supported by the National Science Foundation. In addition to a medal, the awardee receives a grant of $1,000,000 over a five-year period for scientific research or advanced study in the mathematical, physical, biological, engineering, social or other sciences at the institution of the recipient’s choice. Recent winners representing the social and behavioral sciences include Nicholas Carnes (2021) and Kristina R. Olson (2018). More information can be found on the NSF website. Nominations may be submitted until September 20, 2021.
On July 7 and 8, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) convened the second and third meetings of the panel on the Future of Education Research at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education (see previous COSSA coverage for more background). While much of these meetings consisted of closed-door sessions, there were three open, public sessions discussing a variety of topics related to the methods and measures used in education research, on the impact of investments in education research, and on training and retaining future talent in the education research enterprise.
The first open session on Methods and Measures in Education Research discussed the infrastructure of IES and the methods it uses to support research. Discussion from the panelists covered how research methods and assessment in education research at IES may change, including the increased importance of data science, a heightened emphasis on diversity and equity in education science, and an acknowledgement of the challenges of IES’ grant cycles being infrequent, lengthy, and lacking in interdisciplinarity. There was also a discussion about interdisciplinary science and the “need to also make space for innovative proposals that don’t neatly fit into one of the existing goals.”
The second open session on Understanding and Assessing Impact of Education Research Investments, which included panel discussions about the role of education research in impacting public policy, practice in the classroom, and the expected timeline of impact of research investments, led to a focus on investment in education research to change the research enterprise and research policy for the better. Equity in education also came up as a major priority and how to measure the impact of research on equity and improve diversity and inclusion in education and research environments.
The third open session on Training and Retaining the Next Generation of Education Researchers focused on building strong career pathways for training professionals in areas of education research, including fostering research on career development in these research areas. Panelists also noted potential barriers for young people to enter professions in education research and the importance of increasing diversity in the education research workforce.
More information about the panels is available on the NASEM website.