Issue 17 (September 27)


OBSSR Requesting Comments on Draft Priorities for 2023-2028 Strategic Plan

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a Request for Information aiming to gather stakeholder feedback on the draft priorities and strategic objectives for the Office in their 2023-2028 Strategic Plan. These draft priorities are the result of evaluation of the previous strategic plan, a previous Request for Information, and multiple listening sessions with internal and external NIH stakeholders.

The draft strategic plan provides a framework with three major scientific priorities which each carry their own objectives:

  • Improve the synergy between basic behavioral and social sciences research and research testing approaches to improve health outcomes;
  • Enhance and promote research measures, methods, and infrastructure needed to support an integrated and more cumulative approach to behavioral and social sciences research; and
  • Accelerate sustained adoption of behavioral and social sciences research findings in practice.

The strategic plan also provides a list of cross-cutting themes that will be considered throughout the strategic plan:

  • Integration of BSSR across NIH Research;
  • Science of Science;
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility; and
  • Training and Capacity Building

Comments will be accepted through November 14, 2022. Instructions on submitting a response are available in the Request for Information.

Justice Research and Statistics Agency Leaders Answer “Why Social Science”

This month’s Why Social Science post comes from National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Director Nancy La Vigne and Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) Director Alexis Piquero, who discuss what we know about ensuring school safety and what we can do to prevent mass shootings in schools. Read it here and subscribe.

Debate on FY 2022 CR Continues

With the end of the fiscal year looming on September 30, Congress continues to debate the contents of a stopgap measure to keep the government open. Votes are expected this week on a continuing resolution (CR) that would keep the federal government funded through December 16, thereby pushing decisions on final FY 2023 spending until after the November midterm elections. The current version of the CR contains a controversial energy permitting rider authored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) that so far has prevented passage of the stopgap measure in the Senate. Should the permitting language be dropped, the House and Senate would be likely to overwhelming pass the “clean” CR. 

Upon passage of a CR—in whatever form—the House will be in recess until after the November elections, allowing members to focus on campaigning in their home states.

House Committee Holds Hearing on Academic, Social, and Emotional Needs of Students

On September 20, the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee within the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing to discuss how to best meet students’ academic, social, and economic needs in the upcoming school year, especially after the disruption of online learning during the pandemic. The witnesses were Phyllis Jordan, Associate Director of FutureEd, Dr. Aaliyah Samuel, President and CEO of Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, Dr. Penny Schwinn, Tennessee Commissioner of Education in the Tennessee Department of Education, and Dr. Matthew Blomstedt, Commissioner of Education in the Nebraska Department of Education.

Committee Chair Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands), joined by Representative Burgess Owens (R-UT) standing in for Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC), oversaw the hearing. In his opening statements, Sablan called for sustained funding to get students back on track and to help them return to schools safely, while Representative Owens criticized the decisions to close down schools and claimed the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds were being used to reward political allies instead of helping students. The witnesses underscored the importance of using evidence-based practices to support students’ mental health and highlighted ways that schools were using their funding to provide mental health professionals and high-dosage tutoring for students. Democratic members of the committee were interested in how to adequately support students’ social needs— especially the needs of students from marginalized communities— whereas Republicans of the committee were concerned about how to hold states accountable for the funding given to them through the relief package and the effects of online learning on students. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) urged her peers to vote for her Arts Education for All Act (H.R. 5581), a bill that expands arts education programs and calls for centers within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to carry out research and collect data on arts programs in elementary and secondary schools. The committee concluded with a reinforcement of Congress’s commitment to getting students back on track and providing them the resources or funding to do so. A recording of the hearing is available on the Education and Labor Committee website.

This article was contributed by COSSA intern Rachel Chen of the University of Texas at Austin.

White House Provides Updates on Social and Behavioral Sciences Subcommittee & Upcoming Framework

The White House has released a memo providing updates on the activities of the National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) Subcommittee, including the development of a whole-of-government framework on the use of SBS research to advance evidence-based policymaking by April 30, 2023. The SBS Subcommittee was recently rechartered by the Biden Administration as part of a “Year of Evidence for Action” after being sidelined during the previous Administration.

The Subcommittee has established interagency working groups on five policy priorities to assist with the development of the SBS framework. These working groups are tasked with applying several cross-cutting questions to identify the role of SBS in strengthening the use of evidence in these policy areas. These priorities include:

  • Accessibility of Digital Infrastructure and Services;
  • Communicating Hazard Information and Other Types of Uncertainty;
  • Decarbonization and Justice;
  • Good Jobs; and
  • Safely Reducing Criminal Justice System Interactions, Improving Rehabilitation during Incarceration, and Enhancing Re-entry.

More details are available in the White House memo. Comments or suggestions on the framework may be emailed to the SBS Subcommittee at

National Science Foundation Launches Entrepreneurial Fellowships for Engineers and Scientists

The National Science Foundation has launched a new entrepreneurial fellowship program in partnership with to support scientists and engineers engaging interested in translating their research into new products and services. NSF will invest $20 million to support the Activate fellows, which will provide extensive training and $350,000 over a two-year period. Fellows will develop leadership skills, turn their groundbreaking research into tangible products, and learn how to build a business. The fellowship program is the latest initiative to come out of NSF’s new Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships Directorate (TIP), which is bridging the gap between “lab and society.” The application can be found here.

ICYMI: Department of Education Creates New Chief Economist Role, Appoints Jordan Matsudaira

In June, the Department of Education created a new Chief Economist position to work with the Chief Data Officer, the Institute for Education Sciences, the Budget Service, Financial Aid, and many other departments and organizations to streamline new innovations for students and borrowers, leading with evidence-based research to improve the education system. Specifically, the new position will work with partners to:

1. “Provide the best-possible analysis and advice to guide real-time policymaking.

2. Conduct rigorous research to further key elements of the Department’s learning agenda.

3. Build a culture of experimentation, including partnerships with leading social science researchers to pilot-test new ways to serve students and borrowers; and

4. Serve as a liaison to the research community so that leading researchers’ insights and evidence inform our agenda and we can work together to build the evidence and research base on how best to strengthen education.”

Jordan Matsudaira, who also serves as the Deputy Under Secretary to the Department of Education, was named to serve as ED’s first Chief Economist.


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