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Advocates Working to Promote Social Science Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Today, about 40 social and behavioral scientists and other stakeholders are participating in COSSA’s 6th Annual Social Science Advocacy Day, meeting virtually with Members of Congress and their staff about the many ways social and behavioral science is helping to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow our advocates’ efforts on Twitter by following @COSSADC and using the hashtag #whysocialsciencev. Others can get in on the action by responding to COSSA’s newest action alert. Visit COSSA’s Take Action page to tell Congress that the social sciences stand ready and willing to help the United States recover from this crisis. In addition, COSSA…

Senate Returns Next Week with Uncertain Agenda; House Staying Home

While the Senate is planning to return to in-person work in Washington, DC on May 4, the House abruptly changed course and, upon recommendation from the House physician, will not be reconvening next week. No timeline has been set for the House’s return. While working mostly remotely, the House and Senate passed its fourth supplemental appropriations bill on April 24 related to the crisis. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 266) provides additional funding for small business loans, additional support for health care providers, and funding for additional COVID-19 testing. There is much speculation surrounding the…

Census Launches COVID-19 Household Survey

The Census Bureau has applied for and received emergency authorization from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct a new household survey to collect information about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on American families. The COVID-19 Household Pulse Survey will ask individuals about their employment status, spending patterns, food security, housing, physical and mental health, access to health care, and educational disruption during the coronavirus pandemic. The survey was developed with input from agencies across the federal statistical system, including the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the National Center…

Congress Split on Content, Timing of Next Supplemental

Congress left town in late March upon passage of its third COVID-19 supplemental appropriations bill (see COSSA’s coverage) with no set timeline for return. Many are still speculating about what a fourth coronavirus supplemental bill might contain. Republicans are interested in a package focused on relief for small businesses and an infusion of cash for the Small Business Administration, while Democrats are seeking additional resources for hospitals, food stamp benefits, testing, and protective gear for frontline workers. The research and higher education communities, too, have been developing proposals for Congressional consideration. On April 7, four higher education associations sent a…

Census Bureau to Add COVID-19 Questions to Business Surveys, Request Additional Time for Decennial

The Census Bureau has been granted emergency authorization from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to add questions related to COVID-19 to its business surveys. Questions to measure the impact of the pandemic will be added to five surveys: the Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories & Orders (M3) Survey; the Building Permits Survey; the Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey; the Monthly Retail Surveys; and the Quarterly Services Survey. The Census Bureau will be asking businesses whether they have temporarily closed any locations for at least one day, whether they experienced delays in their supply chains or product shipments, and whether…

National Academies Begins Series of Virtual Discussions on the Research Community’s Responses to COVID-19

On April 9, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) hosted the first event in a new virtual series discussing post-secondary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion series, which will take place over the course of several weeks, will bring together leaders from academia, industry, government, and civil society to address new developments in COVID-19 responses in different sectors of the research community. Each virtual event will touch on a specific topic on how researchers and their institutions can help support public health efforts. The April 9 event, which focused…

COSSA Compiles Social Science Resources Related to COVID-19

COSSA is compiling a list of resources for social scientists and stakeholders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The list includes guidance from federal science agencies, collections of publicly available peer-reviewed research related to the crisis, resources from COSSA member associations, and more. It will be updated frequently; if you would like to share resources for inclusion, please contact us. There are a number of new databases for researchers wishing to amplify their work that may have relevance to the current crisis, including the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset, supported by the Allen Institute for AI, and a grassroots effort on GitHub…

COSSA’s Analysis of Enacted COVID-19 Supplemental Funding Legislation, FY 2020

Over the past month, Congress has passed three large stimulus bills in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, the three bills comprise the largest economic stimulus package in American history and touch nearly all aspects of American life, including scientific research, support for key economic sectors and small businesses, direct financial support to Americans, and boosts to social safety net programs. All three bills enacted in response to the crisis, so far, have been supplemental appropriations bills, meaning they provide funds to federal agencies and programs in addition to what has already been appropriated for the current fiscal year (FY…

Census Bureau Temporarily Suspends 2020 Field Operations, In-Person Survey Interviews

The Census Bureau has announced further adjustments to its planned 2020 decennial census operations in response to the coronavirus epidemic (see previous coverage). On March 18, Census Director Steven Dillingham announced a two-week suspension of 2020 field operations. In addition, the Bureau’s two major facilities in Jeffersonville, IN, the National Processing Center and Paper Data Capture Center East, have dramatically reduced on-site staff to the minimum necessary to continue operations. These measures were further extended by an additional two weeks, through April 15, and could be extended even longer in accordance with public health guidelines. In addition, the Census Bureau…

A Word from COSSA…

Dear Friends: Our thoughts are with everyone feeling the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. As the world adjusts to a new—and hopefully temporary—way of life, lawmakers in Washington are scrambling to keep the economic and public health consequences from spiraling out of control. Consistent with any major crisis, the next several weeks, if not months, will see nearly all other policymaking grind to a halt as resources (time, personnel, and money) are diverted appropriately to tackling the challenge before us. This leaves many unknowns about the fate of science funding and policymaking for the foreseeable future. In response, COSSA has…

OSTP Requests Information on Open Access in Peer-Reviewed Publications

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a request for information on the implications of open access to peer-reviewed publications and data resulting from federally funded research. The request is intended to follow up on a 2013 memorandum from OSTP titled Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research and a 2019 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) providing recommendations for increasing public access of unclassified published research. OSTP is most interested in hearing perspectives on the following topics: The existing limitations of communicating research outputs and how to improve communications; The role of…

Administration Plans to Eliminate DOD Social Science Research Program

While the majority of the details of the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget request were made public the week of February 10 (read COSSA’s analysis), full details for some agencies and departments—including the Department of Defense (DoD)—were delayed until the following week. The DoD budget request reflects over $5 billion in cuts made as a result of the FY 2021 Defense-Wide Review. The FY 2021 Defense-Wide Review is a major DoD initiative led by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper “to improve alignment of time, money, and people to [National Defense Strategy] priorities,” including finding budget cuts at DoD. The…

COSSA Releases 2020 Rankings of College and University Social Science Investment

On January 29, COSSA released its 2019 College and University Rankings for Federal Social and Behavioral R&D, which highlight the top university recipients of federal research dollars in the social and behavioral sciences. This year’s rankings feature a dashboard with an interactive map of recipients of social and behavioral science R&D funding so you can see how your university stacks up among more than 500 U.S. institutions. Based on the most recent available federal data, the COSSA rankings use an inclusive selection of fields representing the breadth of the social and behavioral sciences to calculate the total federal R&D funding…

HOT TOPIC: Foreign Interference in the U.S. Research Enterprise & Policy Responses

COSSA has released the latest edition of our HOT TOPIC series, which are featured articles prepared by COSSA staff members offering insights into timely issues important to the social and behavioral science community. This edition, titled Foreign Interference in the U.S. Research Enterprise & Policy Responses, was written by Ben Goodrich. In recent years, United States federal research agencies have faced growing concerns of reports of U.S. research and intellectual property being stolen, illegally transferred, or tampered with by foreign governments, notably the Chinese government. These agencies have employed a variety of methods to protect research from foreign interference, including commissioning…

Congress Rushes to Finish FY 2020 as Schedule Fills

The federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution (CR), keeping the government open until December 20 at fiscal year (FY) 2019 funding levels. With less than two weeks left before the current stopgap spending bill expires, appropriators are hoping to finalize all twelve appropriations bills and pass them as soon as possible. In addition to the normal pressures of wrapping up annual appropriations before the holidays, Congressional leaders must also complete their year-end goals related to impeachment. The House has announced plans to vote on articles of impeachment before the end of the year and the Senate must…

Census Bureau Releases “Demonstration” Decennial Data Products, Working with National Academies to Collect Public Input

On October 29, the Census Bureau released a set of demonstration data products that show how the privacy measures planned for 2020 Census data would have applied to data from the 2010 Census. In a blog post, Census Bureau Chief Scientist John Abowd and Associate Director for Demographic Programs Victoria Velkoff assert that the “methods we used to protect the 2010 Census and earlier statistics can no longer adequately defend against today’s privacy threats.” They describe the new disclosure avoidance techniques planned to protect 2020 Census data and invite researchers and data users to experiment with the new demonstration products…

National Academies Releases Review of Minerva Initiative

The National Academies of Sciences’ Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences released Assessing the Minerva Research Initiative and the Contribution of Social Science to Addressing Security Concerns, a consensus study report assessing the impact, procedures, and direction of the Minerva Research Initiative. The Minerva Research Initiative is a grant program of the Department of Defense (DOD) that funds unclassified, university-based, basic research in the social sciences relevant to national security. The report discusses the program’s challenges and successes and offers recommendations to strengthen the program’s structure and help broaden its reach and usefulness. The report includes recommendations for both…

Nita Lowey, House Appropriations Chair, Announces Retirement

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced on October 10 that she will not seek reelection next year after 31 years in Congress. Rep. Lowey became the first woman to Chair the House Appropriations Committee when the Democrats took control of the House in 2019. Her retirement will lead to a reshuffling among senior Democratic appropriators. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), who currently chairs the Energy and Water Subcommittee, is the most senior Democrat on the committee after Lowey, has said that she would be interested in chairing the Committee, but Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), current chair of the powerful Labor, Health and…

Senate Makes Progress on FY 2020 Appropriations for NSF, Census, NIH, Education, USDA

With the passage of a continuing resolution through Thanksgiving giving Congress some breathing room to complete fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations, the Senate Appropriations Committee has finally made progress in approving a number of its annual appropriations bills. COSSA has released analyses of three Senate bills that fund agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which funds the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and Census Bureau Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which funds the National Institutes of…

OSTP Outlines Research Security Priorities

In a September 16 letter to the research community, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director Kelvin Droegemeier described several of the office’s priorities and planned activities for protecting the security of the U.S. research enterprise. The letter expresses concern over recent efforts by some foreign powers to “exploit, influence, and undermine our research activities and environments,” and concludes that “United States policies and practices must evolve thoughtfully and appropriately” to guard against such attacks. In particular, the letter notes that talent-recruitment programs sponsored by foreign governments have been at the center of several attempts to exploit U.S. research….

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