Executive Branch News

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…

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…

National Science Foundation Launches Entrepreneurial Fellowships for Engineers and Scientists

The National Science Foundation has launched a new entrepreneurial fellowship program in partnership with Activate.org 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…

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…

Renee Wegrzyn to be Named Inaugural Director of ARPA-H

On September 12, the Biden Administration released an announcement of the intent to appoint Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D. as the inaugural director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). The announcement for permanent leadership at the nascent agency has been anticipated since ARPA-H’s creation earlier this spring. Anthropologist Adam Russell has been leading the agency in the interim as Acting Deputy Director since May 2022 (see previous COSSA coverage). Dr. Wegrzyn comes to ARPA-H with a wealth of experience in biotechnology, including synthetic biology, gene editing, and biosecurity. She previously served in the private sector as vice president of…

White House Releases Update on Research Security Measures, Calls for Public Feedback

On August 31, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memo providing updates on the Federal government’s progress in implementing National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM)-33, the hallmark research security policy that has been in development since early 2021 (see previous COSSA coverage). According to the memo, the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Subcommittee on Research Security within OSTP has been coordinating across the Federal science agencies to develop standardized research security rules (for example, guidelines for researchers to disclose potential conflicts of interest) and is now ready for public comment on the draft research…

Criminologist Alexis R. Piquero Sworn in as New Justice Statistics Director

On August 15, Alexis R. Piquero, Ph.D., was sworn in as Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) within the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs (OJP). Dr. Piquero, who takes the helm of the statistical agency primarily responsible for data related to crime and the justice system, was appointed by President Biden back in June. Piquero is a decorated criminologist, researcher, and author with over 25 years of experience and has been appointed to positions at organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences and OJP’s Science Advisory Board. Prior to his leadership at BJS, Piquero served…

OMB Launches New Public Listening Sessions on Federal Race and Ethnicity Standards Revision

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced that it is working to improve race and ethnicity standards across the Federal government by revising their Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. Specifically, OBM is seeking to understand whether current reporting standards should be changed to address detailed race and ethnic groups, whether formatting changes should be considered, and ways that the guidance for the collection and reporting of race and ethnicity data can be improved. OBM will be scheduling private listening sessions to hear from members of the public beginning on September…

Minerva Research Initiative Announces FY 2022 University Grant Opportunities

The Minerva Research Initiative, the signature social science research program within the Department of Defense (DOD), has announced university research grant opportunities for fiscal year (FY) 2022 and listed several target research topics for the program. Minerva aims to apply social science research to critical national security questions and inform broader DOD decision-making based on this research. DOD has stated they are particularly interested in applications that would support the goals of the soon-to-be-public 2022 National Defense Strategy. The following topics are listed as key areas of interest for applications to address: Socio-economic Vulnerability to Climate Change Deterrence in the Future Operating Environment…

White House Announces New Requirements for Public Access to Federally Funded Research

On August 25, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced new requirements on federal agencies to make peer-reviewed publications resulting from federal funding freely available to the public immediately following publication. Citing longstanding concerns around inequitable access to “the full benefits of scientific research” as well as recent success in the sharing of COVID-19 research and data, the memorandum directs federal agencies to eliminate the optional 12-month publication embargo period for federally funded peer reviewed research articles and to make data associated with peer reviewed research articles immediately available upon publication. Specifically, federal agencies are expected…

OSTP Requests Information on Data for LGBTQI+ Equity

On August 28, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a Request for Information to help develop a Federal Evidence Agenda on LBGTQI+ Equity. This request addresses the June 2022 executive order, “Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Individuals” (E.O. 14075), which tasked a new subcommittee on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics (SOGI) within the Interagency Working Group on Equitable Data that will take the lead on developing and agenda to support data collection and aid in informing policy decisions to improve equity for the LGBTQI+ community (see previous coverage)….

Census Bureau Seeking Public Comment for the Design of 2030 Decennial

The Census Bureau is requesting comments from stakeholders and the public regarding the Design Selection Phase dedicated to improving census records in anticipation of the 2030 Census. The Census Bureau anticipates multiple challenges in collecting efficient and accurate data, citing dynamic changes in the workforce and households, and technology advancements as possible barriers. The Census Bureau is seeking to receive feedback on the following: How the Census Bureau can better motivate communities, especially those who are underrepresented, to participate in the 2030 Census. In what ways the Bureau can make the 2030 Census more user-friendly using technology. Whether there are…

White House Releases Budget Priorities for R&D for FY 2024

On July 22, the White House released a memorandum outlining the Administration’s priorities for research and development (R&D) for the fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget cycle. This memorandum, which is traditionally released annually by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), aims to set cross-cutting priorities for all federal research agencies to consider as they develop their budget submissions. The FY 2024 memorandum lists seven such priorities for agencies to consider: Preparing for and preventing pandemics; Reducing the death rate from cancer in half; Tackling climate change; Advancing national security and technological…

Education Department Inviting Comments on Changes to Title IX

On June 23, the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Title IX law enforcing protections against sex-based discrimination in schools, the Department of Education released a proposal to change Title IX regulations and invited stakeholder feedback on the proposed changes. The proposal would implement several changes aiming to expand protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in schools. According to the announcement, the new Title IX rules would: Protect students and employees from all forms of sex discrimination and provide full protection from sex-based harassment. Protect the right of parents and guardians to support their school…

NIH To Hold Two-Part Webinar Series on New Data Management and Sharing Policy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be hosting two interactive webinars on August 11 and September 22. The first event will cover the basics of NIH’s new Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Policy, including data sharing expectations and how to prepare a future DMS plan, which is expected to go into effect on January 25, 2023. The second event will go into more depth on those topics and expand upon privacy protection and data sharing limits. The events will feature the NIH Director of Scientific Data Sharing Policy Division Taunton Paine, the Director of Genomic Data Sharing Policy Implementation…

Joan Sereno Named to Lead NSF’s Behavioral & Cognitive Sciences Division

Last month, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the appointment of Joan Sereno as the next Division Director for the Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) within the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE). Sereno, a psycholinguist who will be coming to NSF as a rotator, is co-director of the Phonetics and Psycholinguistics Laboratory at the University of Kansas and chair of KU’s linguistics department. As BCS lead, Sereno will oversee the division’s research programs in cognitive science, anthropology, geography, psychology, and linguistics, among others. She will start in her NSF post on August 29, succeeding Marc Sebrechts who…

NSF To Hold Webinar Exploring the Science and Engineering Indicators

On July 14, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will be hosting an interactive webinar discussing the 2022 iteration of the Science and Engineering Indicators, the congressionally mandated report released every two years with data on the health and strength of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. The webinar will feature Principal Deputy Director for Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Kei Koizumi, Vice Chair of the National Science Board Victor McCrary, and Director of the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) Emilda B. Rivers as panelists and Director of Science, Technology, and…

Kellina Craig-Henderson Tapped to Lead Social Science Directorate at NSF

On June 16, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that Dr. Kellina Craig-Henderson has been selected to serve as the Assistant Director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. Craig-Henderson, who has been serving as Acting Assistant Director of SBE since January, was the Deputy Assistant Director of SBE under Dr. Arthur “Skip” Lupia, the previous Assistant Director of SBE whose term expired last year. Craig-Henderson assumes the role with extensive experience as a professor of psychology and in other leadership roles at NSF. She was previously a Psychology and Afro-American Studies faculty member at the University of…

President Biden Expected to Nominate Former DARPA Director, Physicist to OSTP Post

On June 21, President Biden is expected to nominate Dr. Arati Prabhakar as the next Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Presidential Science Advisor. As previously reported, Dr. Alondra Nelson was named in February as the interim director of OSTP following the resignation of Eric Lander who stepped down after less than a year in the position amid allegations of workplace bullying. Dr. Francis Collins, former Director of the National Institutes of Health, has been serving as the interim science advisor to the President. Upon Prabahaker’s confirmation, which is required for the OSTP…

NIJ Director Nancy La Vigne Shares Strategic Vision

Dr. Nancy La Vigne, the newly appointed Director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), recently shared her strategic vision for research and programs at the agency. In the vision, La Vigne cites several key priorities for NIJ to consider including fostering rigorous and inclusive research, elevating studies that apply a lens of racial equity, using implementation science components in technology research, and encouraging interdisciplinary research when possible. La Vigne also cited the prevalence of disinformation and the lack of trust in scientific evidence, stating that “the onus is on us to be as clear as possible about the research…

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