Issue 1 (January 10)


ICYMI: Congress Finalizes FY 2023 Spending Deal, COSSA Releases Analysis for Science Agencies

At the end of last year, House and Senate Appropriations Committees released details of the massive fiscal year (FY) 2023 omnibus appropriations and supplemental spending package. The omnibus includes all twelve annual appropriations bills as well as one-time emergency funding for disaster relief and support to Ukraine. Congress took up the package before the December 23 continuing resolution was set to expire, thereby completing the FY 2023 appropriations process, albeit nearly three months late.

As noted, the final package contains $27 billion in emergency supplemental funding to help respond to recent natural disasters and extreme weather events. Within the disaster spending is $1 billion in additional research funding, which allows some federal agencies to achieve budget increases in FY 2023, notably the National Science Foundation. However, given that this additional funding is included as one-time emergency spending and not included as part of agency base funding, it is unclear whether the increases will be sustained in future budgets.

With the 118th Congress taking office, attention will quickly turn to the FY 2024 appropriations process, which will officially begin when the Biden Administration delivers its budget request to Congress in February or March. However, with Republicans taking control of the House and attention turning towards reigning in spending, questions abound on how federal funding for research will fare in the years ahead, especially after years of emergency spending for the pandemic, natural disasters, and the conflict in Ukraine, to name a few. Stay tuned to COSSA’s coverage for all the details as the new Congress takes shape over the coming weeks. Read on for COSSA’s analysis of the final FY 2023 funding bills for federal agencies and programs important to the social and behavioral science research community.

Danielle Staudt Elected COSSA Board Chair

The COSSA Board of Directors has elected Danielle Staudt, Executive Director of the Population Association of America (PAA), as its next chair. Her two-year term began January 1.

Danielle is an association executive with over 20 years of experience and has served as the Executive Director for PAA—a COSSA Governing Member—since 2014.  PAA is the home for population researchers and demographers, and its mission is to support and promote high-quality population research. “I am excited and honored to serve as COSSA’s chair,” says Staudt. “COSSA has been an invaluable resource to me and PAA; I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back to the organization and social and behavioral science community.”

Staudt succeeds Edward Liebow, Executive Director of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), who completed his second term as Board Chair at the end of 2022. “COSSA and the social and behavioral science community in general owe Ed a debt of gratitude for his years of service to advance of our fields,” says COSSA Executive Director Wendy Naus. “Ed’s leadership has resulted in a stronger COSSA. We look forward to building on our four decades of success on behalf of the social and behavioral science community under Danielle’s leadership.”

Save the Date! Social Science Advocacy Day is on April 25

We are excited to invite social science advocates to COSSA’s ninth annual Social Science Advocacy Day on April 25, 2023! Our signature, members-only event will bring together social scientists and other science advocates from across the country to engage with policymakers in Washington, DC. Stay tuned for registration information and sponsorship opportunities coming soon!

Congress Tacks ARPA-H Authorization onto FY 2023 Spending Deal

The finalization of appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2023 received plenty of attention by the research community for its investments in federal research agencies. However, another important provision was the authorization of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). Touted as a major priority for the Biden Administration, ARPA-H is a “high-risk, high-reward” advanced biomedical research agency established in 2022 after receiving initial funding in the FY 2022 appropriations bill. Despite receiving funds, it had not yet been authorized through legislation until it was attached to the FY 2023 appropriations omnibus last month (see COSSA’s analysis).

The long-awaited authorization of ARPA-H seeks to clarify questions regarding the agency’s independence and infrastructure. Originally established as an independent agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), ARPA-H was officially transferred to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. This move into NIH received mixed responses among the research community; some voiced concerns about the new agency potentially sapping resources from the base NIH research activities while others asserted that ARPA-H should be stood up within NIH’s existing infrastructure. The debate over where ARPA-H should be housed spilled into Congress as well, as various proposals to authorize ARPA-H both within NIH and outside of NIH were proposed (see previous coverage). Most notable among them were the ARPA-H Act championed by Anna Eshoo (D-CA) – which would have established the agency independently within the HHS Department – and a section of the Cures 2.0 Act championed by Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) – which would have housed the agency within NIH.

The final FY 2023 appropriations bill includes an authorization bill for ARPA-H that houses it within NIH, aligning with the Biden Administration’s initial transfer of the agency (Subtitle C, Chapter 4 of the bill). However, several provisions were included in the authorization that meaningfully assert ARPA-H’s independence from the rest of NIH, assuaging the concerns of Congressional detractors of the transfer. Notable provisions within the authorization include:

  • ARPA-H will be organized with an Office of the Director and “no more than 8 program offices.” In addition, the Director of ARPA-H may establish “special project offices” as deemed necessary. At least two-thirds of the program offices are required to be dedicated exclusively to supporting R&D activities.
  • The Director of ARPA-H is a presidentially appointed position but is not Senate confirmed (President Biden appointed the first director in September). The Director reports directly to the HHS Secretary and may serve up to two consecutive four-year terms. The Director may also appoint Program Managers for up to two three-year terms.
  • The bill allows ARPA-H to be exempted from certain NIH policies “as necessary and appropriate” to achieve its goals. Exemptions are required to be published in the Federal Register for public inspection.
  • The bill mandates that ARPA-H headquarters must not be located on any existing NIH campus. It also requires ARPA-H to have offices in at least three different geographic areas.
  • Within five years of its authorization, ARPA-H shall be evaluated by the National Academies on whether it is meeting its stated goals and functions.
  • Any budget request for ARPA-H is required to be submitted separately from the other NIH accounts.

COSSA will continue to report on updates to ARPA-H here.

118th Congress Convenes Amidst Historic Speaker Conflict

The 118th Congress has officially kicked off with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) winning the speakership in the House on January 7 after a protracted fight within the Republican party. All House members were sworn in upon McCarthy’s election; reelected and newly elected Senators were sworn in on January 3.

While many questions remain, details about what we can expect this year under the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate are starting to emerge. This week, the House passed its rules package for the 118th Congress, which includes several provisions making headlines. In order to secure the votes needed to win the speakership, McCarthy made a considerable number of concessions to the most conservative wing of the Republican caucus (known as the Freedom Caucus). Some of these concessions include:

  • Any Member of Congress can call for a vote to vacate the speakership (to call for the speaker’s removal).
  • Republicans want to cap FY 2024 spending at the FY 2022 level, which would cut discretionary spending by at least 8 percent below the amount enacted for FY 2023 in December (see related article).
  • Efforts to raise the federal debt ceiling would need to be paired with commensurate cuts, setting the stage for a standoff in the House over the summer.

Given the fractures in the Republican party witnessed throughout the speaker debate and the razor thin majority in the House, it remains to be seen whether the Republican House will be able to advance funding and other critical legislation this year, let alone negotiate final bills with the Democrat-led Senate.

COSSA will continue to report on new developments, including during the next COSSA Headlines webinar scheduled for February 22 in which the team will provide a full look at the 118th Congress and outline our advocacy plans for the year.

National Science and Technology Council Releases Roadmap on Information Integrity Research and Development

The White House’s National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has released The Roadmap for Researchers on Priorities Related to Information Integrity Research and Development. The report identifies combating misinformation as a high priority target for researchers, citing the harmful nature it can have on the public. According to the roadmap, the NSTC will focus its efforts on the following areas:

  • Develop and improve ways to measure the effect of misinformation on the public.
  • Determine strategies to prevent misinformation and increase resilience against misinformation among the public.
  • Understand how technical design and system policies on online platforms affect the spread of misinformation and ways to reduce unintended consequences, including the development of information platforms with a focus on building trust within the community.
  • Develop strategies to reduce misinformation that specifically target campaigns.
  • Improve the amount of available data on how the public interacts with online platforms.
  • Inform policies with developed strategies, data, and research.

The roadmap is intended to guide research in understanding and combating corrupted and manipulated information while protecting freedom of expression and speech. Notably, the roadmap includes an action plan that details different actions that could be taken by different actors across the scientific community, including federal agencies, research institutions, the private sector, and others. The report can be found here.

The White House Releases Its Fifth Open Government National Action Plan

The White House released its Fifth Open Government National Action Plan on December 28. 2022. The first such report was released during the Obama administration in 2011, citing government initiatives that would improve government accountability. These reports are an effort to improve the government’s relationship with the public and elevate their voices.

In the most recent report, the Biden Administration has developed various initiatives dedicated to advancing equity through improving access to government information, increasing public engagement, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs, combatting corruption, and promoting social justice. Many of the initiatives are already well underway, including the development of the Subcommittee on Equitable Data under the National Science and Technology Council (previous COSSA coverage), the in-progress formal review of standards on race and ethnicity data collection by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (previous COSSA coverage), and the newly announced Public Access requirement on publicly funded research by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) (previous COSSA coverage).

The Biden Administration notes that it is committed to expanding these initiatives and furthering their goal to improve government accountability. The first three reports from the Obama administration can be found here, and the fourth from the Trump administration here.

NIJ and BJS Directors Call for Reliable Research and Data on Crime

Nancy La Vigne, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and Alexis Piquero, Ph.D., Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), called for an emphasis on scientific evidence in criminal justice policies in a January 4 opinion piece in The Hill. The commentary, which makes a case for continued support for the missions of NIJ and BJS, highlights public confusion regarding crime rates and the role of research and data collection in guiding crime reduction policies. It also cites crime forecasting algorithms and forensic science methodologies as evidence-based tools that research and data have shown to be effective in addressing crime. The piece can be read in full here.

Submissions Closing for Mark Kleiman Memorial Lecture

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Committee on Law and Justice (CLAJ) is accepting submissions for the 2023 Mark Kleiman Innovation for Public Policy Memorial Lecture. The lecture is an annual award intended to be granted to early career researchers in criminal justice decision making and public policy. Along with a monetary prize, the awardee is given the opportunity to present at a meeting of the National Academies. Submissions will be accepted through January 14. More information is available here.

COSSA Welcomes National Communication Association Back as Governing Member

COSSA is excited to welcome the National Communication Association (NCA) back as a Governing Member. NCA originally joined COSSA in 2000 and works to “promot[e] the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems.” The organization moved to non-governing membership in 2022 amidst a leadership transition but has returned to its governing seat in 2023.

“As a critical field of social science, the expertise and perspectives of communication scholarship has been deeply missed around the COSSA governing table during this hiatus,” says COSSA Executive Director Wendy Naus. “We are excited to welcome NCA back to Governing Membership and look forward to many years of partnership in support of our sciences.”

Information on COSSA membership is available here.

Margaret Weigers Vitullo to Lead Linguistic Society of America

The Linguistic Society of America (LSA), a COSSA Governing and Founding Member, has announced the appointment of Margaret Weigers Vitullo as its next Executive Director starting January 31. A sociologist by training, Vitullo has served as Deputy Director of the American Sociological Association (ASA)—another COSSA founding member—for the last five years and before that as ASA’s Director of Academic and Professional Affairs. She previously served as chair of the sociology department at Gallaudet University and worked at the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research in the Department of Health and Human Services. 

“We are thrilled we get to continue working with Margaret in her new role, and excited for this next chapter for the LSA,” says COSSA Executive Director Wendy Naus.


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