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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…

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 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…

Sweeping Innovation Bill Crosses the Finish Line

Before recessing for the remainder of summer, Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act (H.R. 4346) in late July. This collection of bills has taken many forms over the last two years and has gone by many different names, including the Endless Frontier Act, America COMPETES Act, and U.S. Innovation and Competition Act). The final version gained traction over the last few months following significant disruption to the global microelectronics supply chain resulting from the ongoing pandemic. These concerns reinvigorated Congressional interest in innovation and competitiveness legislation, which led to the CHIPS and Science Act that also incorporates ambitious funding…

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…

National Academies Release New Report on Ontologies in the Behavioral Sciences

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has released a new consensus study report titled Ontologies in the Behavioral Sciences: Accelerating Research and the Spread of Knowledge. The report offers a description of ontologies, or frameworks for organizing existing knowledge, and ways they can be used to support behavioral science. In addition, the report offers several recommendations for science stakeholders to best use ontologies to advance behavioral science research, including federal agencies and professional organizations. Some of these recommendations include: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF) should create agendas for advancing behavioral science…

Congress Begins Marathon of Conferencing Work for Innovation & Competitiveness Package

On May 12, 107 members of the House and Senate comprising the conference committee for U.S. innovation legislation held their first meeting to begin work on reconciling their bills. As previously reported, the House of Representatives passed the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521) in February. The nearly 3,000-page package is comprised of several bills and other provisions related to advancing the U.S. STEM enterprise and shoring up U.S. scientific competitiveness, especially with respect to China. The COMPETES bill is the House’s response to the U.S. Innovation and Competition…

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…

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