Executive Branch News

White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team Seeks Fellows and Associates

The White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) has issued a call for fellows and associates to “translate insights from the social and behavioral sciences into concrete recommendations for how to improve federal programs, policies, and operations…” This activity was referenced in the President’s FY 2016 Budget Request (see page 5).  Fellows tend to be researchers holding a PhD in a social science field who take leave from their university, government agency, etc. to serve in this position.  Associates are researchers currently pursuing a PhD in a related field, or who have a Master’s degree plus two years or more of relevant experience. …

Nominations Sought for National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Nominations are currently being accepted for the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The National Medal of Science is awarded by the President to individuals deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding cumulative contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, or behavioral or social sciences, in service to the nation. The National Medal of Technology and Innovation is awarded to individuals, teams, companies, or divisions of companies for contributions to America’s economic, environmental, and social well-being. Nominations for the National Medal of Science are due on April 27, 2015. More…

FDA, OHRP Seek Comment on Proposed Guidance on Electronic Consent

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released draft guidance on using electronic media and processes to obtain informed consent in FDA-regulated clinical investigations. The guidance covers how and when electronic informed consent information should be presented, how to ensure subjects’ understanding of the information, how to maintain confidentiality and security, and how to keep appropriate documentation of the consent process. FDA is seeking public comment on the draft guidance by May 8, 2015. Instructions and more information are in in the Federal Register notice. The Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) is soliciting comments on whether the FDA’s draft…

COSSA’s Analysis for the President’s FY 2016 Budget Request

President Obama released his fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request to Congress on February 2, officially kicking off the FY 2016 appropriations process. COSSA has released its analysis of the President’s budget request. The 62-page report provides funding details for all federal departments, agencies, and programs important to social and behavioral science research. It outlines the President’s funding proposals as they compare to current (FY 2015) levels. In addition, the document serves as a helpful catalog of social science programs and initiatives across the federal government.   Back to this issue’s table of contents.

New NIJ Director Sworn In

On February 9, Dr. Nancy Rodriguez (Arizona State University) was sworn in as director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). Rodriguez’s research expertise includes topics such as collateral consequences of imprisonment; issues pertaining to race, ethnicity, crime, and justice; and longitudinal studies of families affected by maternal/paternal incarceration. She was appointed by President Obama in October 2014. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

President’s FY 2016 Budget Request Expected February 2

Reminder: the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request to Congress will be released on Monday, February 2. The release of the President’s budget serves as the unofficial kick-off to the annual appropriations process. Following its release, the next several weeks and months will see a flurry of Congressional hearings featuring Executive Branch officials on the details of the budget. COSSA will release its analysis of the request as it relates to federal agencies and programs of interest to the social and behavioral science community in the coming weeks. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

President’s FY 2016 Budget Request to Be Released February 2

In an effort to promote a return of the annual appropriations process to “regular order,” the White House announced that it will release its fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request to Congress by the legally-mandated deadline of the first Monday in February (February 2). This will be the first time in five years that the request is submitted on time; the request was released several weeks late in previous years. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

SACHRP Seeks Nominations for New Members

The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP), the advisory body of the Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP), is seeking nominations to fill two spots that will become vacant in July 2015. The Committee provides guidance on matters “relating to the responsible conduct of research involving human subjects with particular emphasis on special populations such as neonates and children, prisoners, the decisionally impaired, pregnant women, embryos and fetuses, individuals and populations in international studies, populations in which there are individually identifiable samples, data or information; and investigator conflicts of interest.” Qualified candidates will possess expertise and experience in…

Public Comment Sought for Death Master File Certification Program

On December 30, the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register for the establishment of a certification program to “certify” persons to access Death Master File (DMF) information about an individual within three years of that individual’s death. The new program would replace the temporary certification program in place since 2013. The deadline for comments has been extended to March 30. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Profile of New BEA Director in Amstat News

Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) Director Brian Moyer was recently profiled in Amstat News, the membership newsletter of the American Statistical Association (ASA). The piece gives readers a closer look at the new BEA head, whose tenure began in September 2014, as well as a deeper understanding of the agency itself. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

NSF Seeks Social Science Communications Specialist

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking candidates for a new position within the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE). The Communications Specialist will “develop and implement a strategy to communicate information about the Directorate’s support of research, education, and training in the social, behavioral and economic sciences.” Among the required qualifications includes “experience with a science organization developing and implementing integrated communications strategies to promote research about social, behavioral, and economic sciences to a variety of audiences and stakeholders.” The announcement closes on January 16, 2015. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

NSF Updates Transparency and Accountability Practices

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced revisions to its guidelines for program officers and principle investigators (PIs) intended to better communicate the value of the research it funds. According to an NSF press release, language added to the guidelines for program officers require that non-technical project descriptions “serve as a public justification for NSF funding by articulating how the project serves the national interest, as stated by NSF’s mission: to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; or to secure the national defense.” Training and guidelines will also assist program staff in writing…

New Releases from NCHS: Health Insurance Coverage, Contraception, Nut Consumption

The National Center for Health Statistics has released several new reports covering a variety of health-related topics: Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January–June 2014 – In the first six months of 2014, the uninsured rate dropped from 26.5 percent in 2013 to 20.4 percent, with a larger drop among young adults aged 19-25. Current Contraceptive Status Among Women Aged 15–44: United States, 2011–2013 – During the survey period, 61.7 percent of women were currently using contraception, with the pill, female sterilization, condoms, and long-acting reversible contraceptives being the most common methods. Nut…

NIH Discontinues the National Children’s Study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has decided to discontinue the National Children’s Study (NCS). At the December 12 meeting of the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), a working group charged by NIH director Francis Collins to evaluate whether the NCS “as currently outlined is feasible, especially in light of increasing and significant budget constraints,” concluded that the NCS as currently designed is not. The working group further recommended “that the NIH champion and support new study designs, informed by advances in technology and basic and applied research, that could make the original goals of the NCS more…

SMRB Accepts Working Group Report on Pre-college Engagement in Biomedical Science

On December 15, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) unanimously approved the Report of the SMRB Working Group on Pre-college Engagement in Biomedical Science. Chaired by Clyde Yancy, Northwestern University, the working group was charged by NIH director Francis Collins “to recommend ways to optimize NIH’s pre-college programs and initiatives that both align with the NIH mission and ensure a continued pipeline of biomedical science students and professionals.” The group released preliminary findings at its October meeting (see Update, October 28, 2014).

Deadline Extended for Applications to SBE Leadership Posts

As previously reported, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) is seeking to fill a number of leadership positions. Deadlines for applications have been extended through December 31. The open positions include: Deputy Assistant Director Division Director, Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) Division Director, Social and Economic Sciences (SES) Back to this issue’s table of contents.

NIH to Use Single IRB to Speed the Initiation of Clinical Research, Seeks Comments

On December 3, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a draft policy to promote the use of single institutional review boards (IRB) in multi-site clinical research studies. The draft policy proposes that all NIH-funded multi-site studies carried out in the U.S. utilize a single IRB regardless of the funding mechanism. Hence, the agency is seeking public comments on the draft policy through a 60 day comment period closing January 29, 2015. According to the release announcing the draft policy, exceptions would be allowed if local IRB review is necessary to meet the needs of special populations or where it…

NIH Seeks Comments on Draft NIH Policy on Dissemination of NIH-Funded Clinical Trial Information

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking comments on its draft policy “to promote broad and responsible dissemination of information on clinical trials funded by the NIH” through registration and submission of summary results information to ClinicalTrials.gov. NIH has a number of policies designed to promote the distribution of research results and guide funding recipients in disseminating their results, including the NIH Data Sharing Policy, the NIH Public Access Policy, the NIH Research Tools Policy, and the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy. According to the NIH, a recent study found that the results of less than half of NIH-funded…

OMB Finalizes New Statistical Policy Directive

On December 2, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Statistical Policy Directive No. 1, “Fundamental Responsibilities of Federal Statistical Agencies and Recognized Statistical Units.” The Directive provides “a unified articulation of Federal statistical agency responsibilities.” In order to implement the Directive, federal statistical agencies will report to OMB on their progress toward fulfilling four key responsibilities: (1) Produce and disseminate relevant and timely information, (2) Conduct credible and accurate statistical activities, (3) Conduct objective statistical activities, and (4) Protect the trust of information providers by ensuring the confidentiality and exclusive statistical use of their responses. A draft version…

Reminder: Comments on Proposed Elimination of ACS Questions Due December 30

On October 31, the U.S. Census Bureau within the Department of Commerce issued a request for public comment related to the 2014 Content Review of the American Community Survey (ACS). According to the Federal Register Notice, the 2014 review “is the most comprehensive effort ever undertaken by the Census Bureau to review content on the survey, seeking to understand which federal programs use the information collected by each question, the justification for each question, and assess how the Census Bureau might reduce respondent burden.” The review looked at the ACS’s 72 questions and proposed removal of seven from the annual questionnaire….


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