Executive Branch News

Biden Administration Names DOD’s Karin Orvis as Chief Statistician

On April 29, it was announced that President Biden would name Karin Orvis as the permanent Chief Statistician of the United States at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a position that has been vacant for more than two years. Orvis comes to OMB with experience from the Department of Defense (DOD), having previously served as the director of DOD’s Defense Suicide Prevention Office, as acting principal director of military community and family policy, and as director of DOD’s Transition to Veterans Program Office. The role of Chief Statistician has not had a permanent director since Nancy…

Biden Reappoints Two NSB Members, More Appointments yet to be Announced

On May 4, President Biden announced his intention to reappoint two members to the National Science Board (NSB) for the 2022-2028 term. Vice President for Research at the University of the District of Columbia and NSB Vice-Chair Dr. Victor McReary and Executive Emeritus of Sandia National Laboratories Dr. Julia Phillips are both sitting members of NSB and will now serve a second six-year term starting on May 10. Six other NSB members will have their terms expire on May 10 and President Biden has not indicated whom he intends to fill the vacancies. Of the departing members, three have served…

NSF Launches Regional Innovation Engines Program at New Directorate

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) has announced the establishment of a new program and funding opportunity called the NSF Regional Innovation Engines, or NSF Engines. This new program – touting its three core functions as use-inspired research, translation of innovation results to society, and workforce development – aims to develop technology and innovation hubs throughout regions of the United States to bolster economic growth and address societal challenges. The NSF Engines program will provide up to $160 million for up to 10 years to establish each Engine and embed them within the ecosystem…

Office of Justice Programs Releases New Podcast

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) within the Department of Justice has developed a new official podcast called Justice Today, which covers topics related to the criminal justice system and research, including preventing crime, assisting victims of crime, and disseminating criminal justice research and data. Some of the episodes that have been produced so far include: April 22, 2022 – An Introduction to Justice Today April 25, 2022 – Desistance: It’s a Process, Not an Event April 27, 2022 – Making Second Chances Work; Reentry from Incarceration April 28, 2022 – Chris Poulos: Making the Most of Second Chances You…

White House Compiles Federal Equity Action Plans

The White House has published a list of equity action plans that have been developed by various federal agencies in order to comply with President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government (E.O. 13985) issued on the first day of his term (see previous coverage for more details). According to the White House announcement, more than 90 federal agencies across the government were consulted to contribute to the equity action plans to address where barriers to accessing federal programs may exist and identify changes to federal policy that could be made….

Newly Created Advanced Research Agency Transferred to NIH

On April 20, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that the newly created Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) would be formally transferred to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). ARPA-H, which has been a frequently touted priority for the Biden Administration, was newly established in March with the passage of the final appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2022. Although initially established as an independent agency, the appropriations bill gave the HHS secretary authority to transfer ARPA-H elsewhere within the Department, including NIH (see COSSA’s analysis of the final FY 2022 Appropriations…

Equitable Data Working Group Releases Report

On April 22, the Equitable Data Working Group (“Working Group”) released a report on advancing the use of equitable data in the government. The Working Group was established in response to President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government (E.O. 13985). The Working Group consulted several outside organizations during their information collection, including several COSSA governing members such as the American Economic Association, the American Statistical Association, and the Population Association of America. Some of the major recommendations from the report include calling for making disaggregated data the norm, catalyzing existing…

President’s FY 2023 Budget Request for Social and Behavioral Science

As previously reported, the Biden Administration released its fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request to Congress on March 28. The FY 2023 budget prioritizes investment in areas of central importance to the Biden Administration, such as innovation and competitiveness, cancer research, and technological advancement. In addition, like we saw in last year’s budget request, the Administration’s budget underscores the President’s commitment to science as a means for addressing large societal challenges, such as climate change, racism, and, of course, pandemic recovery. However, the budget seeks to achieve these ends through targeted investments that could potentially come at the expense of…

NSF Announces Research Security Activities for 2022-23

As part of its budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2023 (see related article), the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced its intent to commission a JASON study this year, during FY 2022, “to provide guidance on the establishment of a Research on Research Security funding program” that would begin in FY 2023. According to the budget materials, NSF would conduct several activities related to research security in 2023, including: Work with other federal research agencies “to establish uniform mechanisms for research investigators to provide agencies with consistent information on their appointments, activities, and sources of financial support.” Stand up the…

Biden Administration Begins Rollout of FY 2023 Budget, Some Details Yet to be Published

On March 28, the Biden Administration began releasing details of its fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request to Congress. At the time of this writing, details for all federal agencies and departments important to the social science research community have not yet been published; however, topline budget levels are available: The budget request proposes increases for much of the federal research enterprise with some exceptions; however, the devil is in the details. For example, more than half of the proposed increase for the National Institutes of Health would go toward the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) which was…

NSF Establishes New Technology Directorate

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced the creation of its first new research directorate in over 30 years, the Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP). The new Directorate will support “use-inspired” research with the goal of “fostering innovation and technology ecosystems, establishing translation pathways, and partnering across sectors to engage the nation’s diverse talent.” In addition to new investments, the directorate will transfer several existing NSF programs into TIP, including the NSF Lab-to-Market Platform comprising the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps), Partnerships for Innovation, and America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF , as well as the NSF Convergence Accelerator. Dr. Erwin Gianchandani, who has…

PCAST Holds Panel Discussion on Science Communication

On March 24, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) hosted a panel discussion on the topic of improving science communication. In his introductory remarks, Dr. Francis Collins, acting co-chair of PCAST and interim Presidential Science Advisor, noted serious concerns about science communication, specifically with respect to vaccine hesitancy, and stated that PCAST has an opportunity to advise the federal government on how to improve science communication to build public trust. In a nod to previous remarks made by Collins as he stepped down as Director of the National Institutes of Health last year, he acknowledged that…

Rayvon Fouché Begins Appointment as NSF’s SES Division Director

On February 28, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Social and Economic Sciences (SES) Division saw a change of leadership as Dr. Rayvon Fouché took the helm of the division. Fouché, a science and technology studies researcher and professor at Purdue University, succeeds the previous division director Daniel Goroff who led the division from 2019 through 2021. The SES Division is responsible for many of the key social and behavioral science research programs within the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate at NSF. More information is available on the NSF website.

Invitation: White House Holding Virtual Summit to Kick Off “Year of Evidence for Action”

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will hold a Virtual Summit on Evidence for Action on April 7, 2022. The summit will kick off a “Year of Evidence for Action” to be focused on “building and strengthening partnerships between evidence communities within and outside of the federal government.” The event will include an opening plenary featuring Acting OSTP Director Alondra Nelson, OMB Deputy Director for Management Jason Miller, Senior Counselor in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) K. Sabeel Rahman, Census Bureau Director Robert Santos, and Deputy…

NIH Seeks Next Leader of Behavioral and Social Science

The National Institutes of Health has initiated a search for the next Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) and NIH Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. OBSSR and its team serve as the “NIH focal point for establishing agency-wide policies and goals in behavioral and social sciences research, and coordinates the activities undertaken in the performance of this research.” The position was most recently held by William T. Riley until his retirement at the end of 2021 (see previous coverage). Dr. Christine Hunter, OBSSR Deputy Director, is currently leading the office on an…

NIH Issues Solicitations for Community-Level Solutions to Prevent Gun Violence

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), led by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), has issued a pair of funding opportunity announcements that will fund research related to preventing gun violence. These solicitations are enabled by Congressional funding for firearm violence prevention research first passed in fiscal year (FY) 2020 (see previous coverage). The first solicitation, Research on Community Level Interventions for Firearm and Related Violence, Injury and Mortality Prevention will “support a network of research projects to develop and test interventions at the community or community organization level that aim to prevent firearm and related violence,…

NIH to Hold Webinar on Social and Behavioral Health Impacts of COVID

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Health Impacts of COVID-19 initiative will hold a webinar on April 27-28, 2022 to present findings from research funded by this program. Topics covered will include mitigation efforts, biological correlates, morbidity and mortality, social networks, disadvantaged populations, time use and families, and interventions. Full details about the webinar are available on the registration page.

OSTP Seeking Comments on Scientific Integrity Framework

On March 3, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking comments on the development of a framework of Federal policies for protecting scientific integrity from political interference, suppression, or manipulation. This RFI builds upon an earlier report, “Protecting the Integrity of Government Science,” which was released in January 2022 (see previous coverage). The RFI seeks info on four key areas of scientific integrity policy: How policies can address issues such as diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility; Criteria to evaluate scientific integrity policies in the Executive Branch; How to ensure that…

Nelson, Collins Step in to Lead White House Science Efforts

On February 16, the White House announced the appointment of Dr. Alondra Nelson as the interim director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) effective immediately, replacing Eric Lander who stepped down last month amid allegations of workplace bullying. Dr. Nelson, a sociologist, is currently serving as OSTP Deputy Director for Science and Society. In addition, Dr. Francis Collins, who recently retired as Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has been asked to step in as the President’s Science Advisor and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Both Nelson and Collins…

NIH Seeking Comments on Upcoming Diversity Strategic Plan

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking stakeholder comments in regards to the proposed framework for the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) currently in development. This strategic plan is being developed in response to an Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce released in June 2021 by the Biden Administration. The framework currently names three major objectives of the strategic plan: Implement organizational practices to center and prioritize DEIA in the workforce; Grow and sustain DEIA through structural and cultural change; and Advance…

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