Issue 5 (March 7)


NIH Seeking Feedback on Plan to Enhance Public Access to Research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a Plan to Enhance Public Access to the Results of NIH-Supported Research, a direct response to the August 2022 memorandum from the White House directing federal research agencies to make publications and data from federally funded research publicly accessible (see previous COSSA coverage). The plan outlines the agency’s proposed actions to make NIH research more publicly accessible, especially in regard to research data and scholarly publications. In addition, NIH will be accepting feedback on the public access plan, with particular interest on the following topics:

  • ensuring equity in publication opportunities for NIH-supported researchers;
  • improving equity in access and accessibility of publications;
  • methods for monitoring evolving costs and impacts, and;
  • input to increase the findability and transparency of the research.

Comments will be accepted through April 24, 2023. More information is available on the NIH website.

March Headlines to Feature Discussion on the FY 2024 Funding Outlook for Social & Behavioral Science Research

COSSA’s regular webinar series, COSSA Headlines, is back for 2023 and will kick off March 16 with a discussion on President Biden’s FY 2024 budget request for science and outlook for research funding in the new Congress. The COSSA team will also highlight ways social and behavioral science researchers can weigh on with their elected officials to support federal research funding. 

Register for the webinar here.

Gun Violence Researchers Answer “Why Social Science?”

This week’s Why Social Science? post comes from researchers at the University of Connecticut and Johns Hopkins University to touch on the many ways social science offers insights into preventing and reducing the prevalence of gun-related violence. Read on for more.

118th Congress: Profile of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) is an important committee to the research community in that it is responsible for securing appropriations and drafting legislation for scientific agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Justice (DOJ), Census Bureau, and several other science and statistical agencies.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman, Patty Murray (D-WA) announced Democratic subcommittee assignments in mid-February. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) remains as the CJS Chair, and, for the minority, Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) has also remained in his position as Ranking Member. The Subcommittee is expected to begin holding hearings shortly featuring federal agency heads and discussing their funding priorities for fiscal year (FY) 2024. Follow COSSA’s coverage for all the latest developments.

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on a Science and Technology Strategy

On March 1, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (SST) held a public hearing titled The United States, China, and the Fight for Global Leadership: Building a U.S. National Science and Technology Strategy. The hearing focused on the geopolitical competition between the U.S. and China as well as the development of a National Science and Technology Strategy, a framework mandated in the 2022 enacted CHIPS and Science Act that aims to make the U.S. more competitive technologically. Witnesses included Former Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, President and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness Deborah Wince-Smith, Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Dr. Kim Budil, and Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Klon Kitchen.

Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), filling in for Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), both voiced strong support for strengthening the U.S. science and technology enterprise through a National Science and Technology Strategy, although the two parties differed on the priorities that should be included. Lucas and many of the Republican members prioritized the need to maintain a competitive edge with the Chinese government while Bonamici and many of the Democratic members highlighted the importance of climate research and the inclusion of historically underrepresented populations in the scientific enterprise. Wince-Smith lauded the role of the National Science Board (NSB), the advisory body of the National Science Foundation (NSF), in shaping U.S. science and technology efforts, although noted that the agency should be more involved in the national security side of competitiveness. Members of the Committee also raised several other questions to the panelists including public-private partnerships, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the scientific enterprise, the role of rural research institutions and community colleges in the scientific enterprise, and the development of nuclear fusion technology.

Statements from Chairman Lucas, witness testimonies, and a recording of the hearing are available on the SST Committee website.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on Data Privacy and Security

On March 1, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on data security, mass data collection, and the need to protect Americans’ privacy in the wake of resulting targeted ads and the vulnerability of consumer data. Salient points regarding the necessity for data security, with implications for researchers and anyone concerned about privacy standards were discussed at length.  Witnesses included President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology Alexandra Reeve Givens, Founder and Chief Product Officer of Anonym Graham Mudd, and Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for Consumer Protection at Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP Jessica Rich.

The witnesses explained that scammers with access to American data can “target their schemes” to seniors or those seeking gateways to socioeconomic progress,” pointing out that targeting of certain social or economic groups based on patterns of behavior is harmful to our society. These data sets are even being used in job application processes to screen applicants based on their social and behavioral factors. Givens noted that “without advancing legislation on [national data security], we will see more social and economic harm.” Companies are even making inferences with data sets and using it in targeting of teenagers facing mental health issues. Many committee members, including Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Vice Chair Tim Walberg (R-MI), and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) mentioned needing to protect children’s safety. A prominent theme of the hearing was the danger posed by failures of the American Government to secure sensitive data, which leads to massive data breaches and identity theft and stifles American innovation. Members of the Committee also discussed efforts to create a national data privacy standard that raises the bar for baseline safeguards past what was already accomplished in the last Congress’ American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA).

A full recording of the hearing can be found here.

OSTP to Host Listening Sessions to Inform the Federal STEM Strategic Plan

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is hosting virtual listening sessions throughout March to inform development of the 2023-2028 Federal STEM Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan was first introduced in 2013 by the National Science and Technology Committee (NSTC) during the Obama Administration, and was continued by the Trump Administration in 2018 (previous COSSA coverage). The Strategic Plan is a five-year plan that seeks to improve STEM education and the workforce and is required by the America COMPETES Re-authorization Act of 2010. The listening sessions will be facilitated by the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute and are expected to focus on specific topics within the STEM ecosystem to provide OSTP and NSTC with a well-rounded understanding to inform the Strategic Plan.

The listening session topics include:

Registration information is available here.

OMB, Stakeholders Preparing for Changes to Race and Ethnicity Standards

As previously reported by COSSA, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is in the process of revising and modernizing their race and ethnicity standards that were last updated in 1997. The Interagency Technical Working Group on Race and Ethnicity Statistical Standards is hosting a series of Town Halls to receive feedback from the public on the initial proposals. The Town Halls are scheduled for Tuesday, March 14 at 2pm ET, Friday, March 17 at 2pm ET, and Saturday, March 18, at 2pm ET. Registration has not yet opened but will be available here. OMB will also record the sessions for participants unable to attend in-person. Public comment on OMB’s initial proposal can be submitted here and is due April 12 (previous COSSA coverage).

As federal agency efforts continue, stakeholder organizations are holding events on OMB’s race and ethnicity standards to inform OMB and the public. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights held a webinar on the history and implications of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Race and Ethnicity Data Collection Standards on February 22, emphasizing the importance of a combined question format that allows people to self-identify their race and ethnicity. The conference also discussed the expansion of options, including additional Middle East and North African (MENA) categories. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights predicted that more detailed data collection will lead to better data on vaccination rates, child poverty reductions, and more.

OSTP and BJS Requesting Feedback on Criminal Justice Statistics

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) within the Department of Justice have released a request for information regarding the collection of criminal justice data and statistics. The request seeks to inform the Biden Administration’s practices on data collection, use, and transparency and will aim to identify how to provide guidance to law enforcement agencies. The request builds off of a previous Executive Order (E.O. 14074) on Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety. Comments will be accepted through March 30, 2023. More information is available in the Federal Register.

Penn State and OSTP Host Final Evidence Forum

Penn State University’s Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative held an Evidence Forum alongside the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on February 22. As a part of a series of events, the Evidence Forums were held to foster communication between federal agencies and the public to share evidence-based research strategies. At the final of ten Evidence Forums, Penn State focused on the need to improve equity within research. The forum concluded that affected populations should be central to identifying solutions and that researchers must consider societal impacts. Neeli Bendapudi, the President of Penn State, emphasized the importance of disciplines working together to improve diversity, and asked the public to “hold [researchers] accountable for results.” A recording of the webinar can be viewed here.

NASEM President Marcia McNutt Speaks on History of Research Funding at AAAS Meeting

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) held it’s 2023 Annual Meeting on March 2-5 in Washington DC. During the conference, Marcia McNutt, President of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) provided a keynote address, The Past, Present, and Future of our Research Enterprise. McNutt discussed the evolution of science funding through the years, particularly referencing the decline of funding after the Cold War. McNutt noted that the research enterprise in the United States does not have the capacity to meet demand for scientific insights, and oftentimes, funding falls short. McNutt recommended improving funding and access to education, and integrating multiple disciplines to engage in research that is evidence and solution based.

In addition, McNutt cited “rebuilding trust in science” as an essential part of advancing the research enterprise. She identified lack of representation and ineffective communication as barriers to rebuilding trust. She recommended that research focus on being diverse and easy-to-understand for public use. Additionally, McNutt addressed the need to inform the public through trusted brands and spokespeople to improve communication from science to the people. 

Science is US Report Shows Impact of STEM on U.S. Workforce

On March 1, Science is US released the People of Science report, an analysis of the impact of the STEM workforce on the U.S. economy. According to the report, 34.3 percent of the U.S. workforce engaged with STEM in some capacity in 2021, accounting for $9.45 trillion – or 40.5 percent – of U.S. GDP. The report defines the STEM workforce broadly as people who spend the vast majority of their job tasks engaging in science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine and includes a list of qualifying occupations that contributed to the STEM workforce. Among the listed occupations are social and behavioral science occupations including scientists, research assistants, technicians, and educators in the social sciences, among many other related occupations. More information about the report is available on the Science is US website. COSSA is a member of the Science is US Steering Committee.

Economist Alan Blinder Wins AAPSS 2023 Moynihan Prize

The American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS), a COSSA member, has announced the winner of the 2023 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize, which annually recognizes “a leading policymaker, social scientist, or public intellectual whose career demonstrates the value of using research and evidence to improve the human condition.” This year’s winner is Dr. Alan Blinder, a Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Dr. Blinder is celebrated for his extensive and influential years of public service, including serving as a member of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers and Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Dr. Blinder has three degrees in Economics, from Princeton University, London School of Economics, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He frequently appears on television to provide economical insight for the American public.

Later this year in Washington, DC, Blinder will receive the Moynihan prize and give a lecture, followed by a panel discussion on contemporary economic circumstances.


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