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Biden Administration Names Nancy La Vigne, Criminologist & COSSA Board Member, to Lead National Institute of Justice

On May 4, it was announced that President Biden has appointed Dr. Nancy La Vigne to be the next Director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). La Vigne, a distinguished criminal justice researcher, brings a wealth of experience in criminal justice policy, research, and non-profit leadership. Formerly a senior fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice, La Vigne holds a Ph.D. in criminal justice from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Texas-Austin, and a bachelor’s degree in government and economics from Smith College. She has over a decade…

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….

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…

Congress Finally Agrees on FY 2022 Funding, Mixed Bag for Science

Nearly six months into the new fiscal year, Congress has finally completed its work on the fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations bills, securing funding for federal departments, agencies, and programs through September 30, 2022. After months of stalemate and rocky negotiations, House and Senate leaders agreed to an overall FY 2022 framework that includes roughly equal increases to defense and non-defense funding, delivering a major win to Republicans who were pushing for parity throughout the process. The eleventh hour increase in defense spending in the final package resulted in smaller-than-expected increases to nearly all agencies and programs important to the…

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…

Bill Riley to Retire as Director of NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research

On September 30, William T. Riley, Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Science Research (BSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), announced his retirement from NIH at the end of December 2021. OBSSR Deputy Director Christine Hunter will take over as Acting Director position until a permanent replacement is named. Riley, who has led BSSR efforts at NIH for the past seven years, has been a tremendous proponent of the social and behavioral sciences through his previous roles at NIH including in the National Cancer Institute (NCI),…

Details of House Democrats’ Reconciliation Proposals Released; Road to Passage Still Unclear

As previously reported, House Democrats are currently working to pass their $3.5 billion “Build Back Better” plan through the fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget reconciliation process. As part of the process, authorizing committees have been tasked with making recommendations for how to allocate the funding in the plan. At this point, all committees have made and approved their recommendations, which have been compiled by the House Budget Committee into a final package to be approved by the full House. Negotiations are underway with various wings of the Democratic caucus to reach an agreement to pass the full bill in the…

Three Social Scientists Named to PCAST

On September 22, President Biden announced the appointment of 30 members to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), the body of external advisors charged with making science, technology, and innovation policy recommendations to the President and the White House. The White House announcement notes that this is the most diverse group of PCAST members in U.S. history; it is led by its first female external co-chairs, Dr. Frances Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber (in addition to Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Eric Lander) and is composed of over 50 percent women and one-third people…

White House Outlines R&D Budget Priorities for FY 2023

The White House has published a memorandum on Research & Development Priorities for the fiscal year (FY) 2023 Budget, a document that lays out the Administration’s priorities for federal research agencies to consider when drafting their budget requests. This memo, which is traditionally released annually by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), is the first such memo released by the Biden Administration. It outlines five cross-cutting themes for agencies to consider for their budgets: pandemic readiness and prevention; tackling climate change; research and innovation in emerging technologies; innovation in…

House Science Committee Approves NSF Spending in Reconciliation Package

On September 9, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee met to pass a set of spending recommendations that allocate $45.5 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2022 spending as part of the House Democrats’ wide-reaching “Build Back Better” plan. The $3.5 trillion in total proposed spending (over 5-10 years) would be passed as part of the budget reconciliation process (which removes several procedural hurdles to passing such legislation) and would be in addition to regular FY 2022 appropriations (see COSSA’s analysis of the House’s FY 2022 appropriations bills here). The Science Committee’s recommendations would provide the National Science Foundation (NSF)…

OSTP Prepares Upcoming Research Security Guidance

On August 10, Dr. Eric Lander, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced the Biden Administration’s intent to develop guidance for federal agencies to implement research security provisions over the following 90 days. The guidance would provide clear rules for federal agencies to comply with the National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM-33), issued in the final days of the Trump Administration. Among other provisions, NSPM-33 recommends standard research security measures across federal research agencies and clarifies disclosure requirements of foreign support for federally-funded scientists (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). In addition, on August…

NSF Seeks Candidates for SBE Leadership Positions

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has initiated a national search for its next Assistant Director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. Dr. Arthur Lupia has served in this position since 2018. The Assistant Director for SBE oversees the directorate, which includes the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, the Division of Social and Economic Sciences, the SBE Office of Multidisciplinary Activities, and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. The search committee will be led by Robert Groves, Executive Vice President and Provost at Georgetown University, and is seeking candidates with outstanding leadership capabilities; a deep…

House Committee Approves FY 2022 Funding Bills

Over the last few weeks, the House Appropriations Committee began considering its annual appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2022, including the bills that fund federal science, research, and data activities. At least on the House side, the FY 2022 bills are in many ways a stark contrast to the spending measures we have seen over the last several years. This is for a few reasons. First, the spending caps that have placed limits on discretionary spending over the last decade expired in FY 2021 and new ones have not yet been set. Second, it is common to see major…

HOT TOPIC: Competing Visions – The NSF for the Future Act and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act

In June 2021, the House and Senate advanced separate versions of legislation to enhance U.S. innovation and global competitiveness. The approaches taken by the two bills, however, differ dramatically. The Senate bill focuses squarely on ways to harness and in some cases alter the nation’s scientific assets to better compete with China. The House bill, on the other hand, doubles down on the nation’s existing, proven scientific leadership and proposes additional investments to push the U.S. research enterprise—particularly the National Science Foundation—into new directions. Despite the many differences between them, some parallels can be found; for example, both propose establishing…

Senate Passes Sweeping U.S. Competitiveness Legislation, Includes Endless Frontier Act

On June 8, the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) (S. 1260). The 2,300 page bill was originally introduced in the spring as the Endless Frontier Act, which sought to shore up U.S. leadership in key technology areas—specifically with respect to China—and to enhance “tech transfer” for scientific research funded by the federal government. Since then, hundreds of amendments have been offered, resulting in a substantially altered package that now incorporates several additional, far-reaching bills. The original proposal authorized $100 billion over five years specifically for a new Technology and Innovation Directorate at the National Science Foundation….

Biden Administration Release FY 2022 Budget Request; Read COSSA’s Analysis

On May 28, the Biden Administration released details of its fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request to Congress. A “skinny budget” with preliminary details was issued on April 9. As with any first budget of a new presidential administration, the blueprint outlines several shifts in priority from the last administration as well as proposals for new activities and initiatives. Of particular note, the Biden 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. To this end, the budget request proposes some fairly major changes…

NIH Working Group Presents Report on Opportunities in Basic Behavioral and Social Science Research

During the May 20-21 meeting of the Council of Councils at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a Working Group on Basic Behavioral and Social Science Research (bBSSR) presented a report analyzing past support for basic research on behavioral and social phenomena related to health and areas ripe for additional study. The working group report, co-chaired by the Director of NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) Dr. Bill Riley, looks at the historical trends of basic research at NIH and identifies potential trans-NIH opportunities to fill gaps in the agency’s efforts. The presentation touched on several trends…

House Science Committee Discusses NSF’s Future

As previously reported, leaders of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee introduced the National Science Foundation for the Future Act (H.R. 2225) earlier this spring. Over the last several weeks, the Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a series of hearings to discuss the bill and, more generally, “Advancing Research for the Future of U.S. Innovation.” On April 28, the hearing featured NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan and Chair of the National Science Board Ellen Ochoa. A second hearing featuring stakeholders of NSF funding, including representatives from research universities and the private sector, occurred on May 6. COSSA issued a…

Today is Social Science Advocacy Day; Advocates Highlighting Social Science for Recovery and Beyond

On April 27, more than 60 social and behavioral scientists are participating in COSSA’s seventh annual Social Science Advocacy Day, meeting virtually with Members of Congress and their staff about the many ways social and behavioral science can help the nation recover from the pandemic and tackle the other major challenges it faces. Advocates from 21 states will conduct approximately 80 meetings with Congressional offices. They are equipped with materials that help to explain the unique contributions the social and behavioral sciences make to recovery and to address other pressing national issues; these factsheets are available on COSSA’s Advocacy Resources page….

Biden Preliminary FY 2022 R&D Proposals Rely on “DARPA” Model

On April 9, the Biden Administration released preliminary, high-level details of its fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request, referred to as a “skinny budget.” At this stage, details are only available for Cabinet-level departments and a handful of other “major” agencies, with limited details about some agencies within the departments. For example, it includes preliminary details for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but not for the Census Bureau. Full budget details will be released in the coming months. In the meantime, however, Congress is proceeding with the FY 2022 appropriations process without the Administration’s full proposals. Appropriators in both…

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