transition 2021

Congress Confronts Packed Post-Impeachment To-Do List

For the first time since taking office, the Biden Administration and 117th Congress can work without being consumed by the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill can now forge ahead on a COVID-19 relief package currently being negotiated and with confirmation hearings for Biden appointees. The House is looking to vote on a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package next week, which is expected to pass largely along party lines. The goal is for the House and Senate to send a completed package to the President by March 14 when current unemployment insurance relief expires. On…

Early Days of Biden Administration Marked by Slew of Executive Actions

Since Inauguration Day, President Biden‚Äôs spate of executive orders and presidential declarations have focused primarily on undoing many of the damaging actions of the last Administration. As expected, several actions were taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic, such as mandating mask-wearing in federal facilities, appointment of a COVID-19 Response Coordinator, and providing economic relief to individuals and families struggling with unemployment and underemployment, eviction, and other effects of the pandemic. In addition, numerous executive actions directly address the U.S. scientific enterprise and U.S. participation in global scientific efforts. Discussed in this issue are several recent actions taken by the Biden…

Biden Administration Executive Actions: Equity & Inclusion

Another early Biden Administration executive order rescinded various Trump Administration actions that attempted to push back against perceived ‚Äúpolitical correctness‚ÄĚ by actions prohibiting trainings and other activities that touch on white privilege, structural inequality, implicit bias, and other supposedly ‚Äúdivisive‚ÄĚ concepts based on decades of social science research. President Biden‚Äôs Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government goes beyond simply revoking the Trump Administration policies and instead sets a policy of actively working to improve racial equity government-wide. The Executive Order outlines a systematic approach for accurately assessing ‚Äúwhether agency policies and…

Biden Administration Executive Actions: COVID-19

On January 21, President Biden issued an Executive Order ensuring that the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic would be guided by the best available science and data, further protecting from potential future public health threats. The Executive Order lays out several directives for federal agencies including focusing energy on building public health infrastructure, directing agency heads to share and coordinate COVID-19 data with other agencies, improving federal capacity for data collection practices, and reviewing existing public health data systems for potential areas for improvement. The Department of Health and Human Services is directed to ensure public health data systems…

Biden Administration Executive Actions: Climate Change

In addition to his day-one promise to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, President Biden has also issued executive orders directing federal agencies to review and, where appropriate, take corrective action to address or reverse actions of the Trump Administration that are found to be ‚Äúharmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest.‚ÄĚ On January 27, a detailed order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad was issued. Among other things, the order ensures that ‚Äúclimate considerations‚ÄĚ will have a place in U.S. foreign policy and…

Biden Administration Executive Actions: Scientific Integrity

On January 27, President Biden issued a Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking that states the Administration‚Äôs policy to ‚Äúmake evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data‚ÄĚ and affirms that ‚Äúscientific findings should never be distorted or influenced by political considerations.‚ÄĚ The memorandum builds on and updates an Obama Administration Executive Order requiring federal agencies develop scientific integrity policies. President Biden‚Äôs memorandum establishes a Task Force on Scientific Integrity that will review existing scientific integrity policies and recommend improvements. It also sets more detailed requirements for what should be included in…

Biden Executive Actions: Federal Workforce

On January 22, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce, which repealed several Trump-era executive actions affecting the civil service. Notably, the executive order revokes the controversial Schedule F excepted service category (see previous COSSA coverage), which would have reclassified some federal employees to be more prone to hiring and firing as if they were political appointees. The executive order is available on the White House website.

Biden Executive Actions: Immigration and Research Security

On January 20, President Biden issued a presidential proclamation ending several orders from the Trump Administration banning certain individuals from traveling to the United States, primarily, individuals from African countries and countries with large Muslim populations. The proclamation also reverses many Trump-era practices used to aggressively tighten immigration such as restrictions on the visa process and the intrusive screening of individuals‚Äô social media accounts. At the same time, the Biden Administration has signaled potential actions related to the security of the U.S. research enterprise (see COSSA‚Äôs January 2020 and October 2020 Hot Topics for more info). In particular, the Biden…

Biden Administration Executive Actions: Census

Among the executive orders President Biden signed on his first day in office was an affirmation that Census population counts would reflect the total number of residents in each state‚ÄĒregardless of their immigration or citizenship status. It has been the government‚Äôs longstanding practice for Census figures to be based on the ‚Äúwhole number of persons in each state‚ÄĚ (as described in the 14th Amendment). However, former President Trump had attempted to change this policy via executive actions to use administrative records to produce citizenship data and to exclude undocumented immigrants from apportionment counts produced by the 2020 Census. President Biden‚Äôs…

Biden Administration Announces Science Team; Alondra Nelson Tapped for New ‚ÄúScience and Society‚ÄĚ Role

On January 15, President-Elect Biden announced key members of his administration‚Äôs science and technology team. Dr. Eric Lander, a life scientist and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, will be nominated to direct the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and to serve as the President‚Äôs Science Advisor. This role will also be elevated to Cabinet level for the first time. Dr. Alondra Nelson, a prominent social scientist and President of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), a COSSA member, will be appointed to a new senior OSTP role: Deputy Director for Science…

Dillingham Leaves Census Bureau After Whistleblower Complaints About Noncitizen Data Release

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced his departure, effective January 20, eleven months before the end of his term. The announcement comes after whistleblower complaints came to light that Dillingham and senior political appointees were pressuring Census Bureau employees to rush the publication of a potentially ‚Äústatistically indefensible‚ÄĚ data report on noncitizens. Dillingham‚Äôs public announcement of his resignation included a response to questions posed by the Department of Commerce Inspector General‚Äôs Office regarding the noncitizens report. Dillingham‚Äôs announcement also notes that he has respect for President-elect Biden and had prepared, after requests from the Biden transition team, to stay on…

COSSA Issues Recommendations for the Incoming Biden Administration

In December, COSSA transmitted a report to the Biden transition team, Putting Social and Behavioral Science to Work for America: 10 Recommendations to the Biden Administration. The report outlines tangible actions the incoming Administration can take to support the U.S. research enterprise and use social science research in support of evidence-based policy making across three themes: (1) Restore Trust in Science and Government Data, (2) Champion Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Science; and (3) Expand the Use of Social and Behavioral Science and Data in Decision-Making. The full document is available on COSSA’s website.

December Headlines to Feature Deep Dive on 2021 Policy Landscape

COSSA members are invited to register for the monthly Headlines webchat on Thursday, December 10 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time. The COSSA team will break down the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month, followed by a deep dive discussion on the social science policy landscape facing the new Congress and the Biden Administration next year. Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

Day One Project Seeks Input on Top 100 Science Roles in Government

The Day One Project is seeking the science community’s input on the most important science and technology roles in government. An initiative of the Federation of American Scientists, the Day One Project seeks to involve the science and technology community in the presidential transition by “developing new proposals on key issues that can be useful to policymakers on the first day of a new presidential term and beyond.” As part of an effort to identify the top 100 most important federal positions for science and technology, the project is seeking ideas for both what these roles are currently, as well…

Day One Project Seeks Input on Top 100 Science Roles in Government

The Day One Project is seeking the science community‚Äôs input on the most important science and technology roles in government. An initiative of the Federation of American Scientists, the Day One Project seeks to involve the science and technology community in the presidential transition by ‚Äúdeveloping new proposals on key issues that can be useful to policymakers on the first day of a new presidential term and beyond.‚ÄĚ As part of an effort to identify the top 100 most important federal positions for science and technology, the project is seeking ideas for both what these roles are currently, as well as ideas…

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