Revisions #1 - 125397_washington update

A staple since COSSA’s earliest days, the biweekly COSSA Washington Update newsletter provides members and the public with comprehensive coverage of policy developments impacting social and behavioral science research. 

Rising Mortality Rates in Women in the U.S.: Role of Drug Abuse and Addiction

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) director Nora Volkow recently discussed the role of substance abuse in the “Rising Mortality Rates in Women in the U.S.,” the subject of a July 15 Women’s Policy, Inc.- sponsored congressional briefing. Susan Dentzer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), moderated the session. According to Dentzer, the briefing was designed to address the data in the 2013 National Research Council (NRC) and Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health (see Update, October 7, 2013), also the subject of an earlier congressional briefing sponsored by the Coalition for the…

National Humanities Council Meets as NEH Faces Budget Uncertainty, New Chairman

The National Council on the Humanities, the advisory body to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), met on July 10 and 11. The meeting was presided over by NEH’s Acting Chairman Carole Watson, who has been leading the agency since Jim Leach left in May. Watson observed that it has been a time of change for NEH, which recently relocated from its home of more than 30 years in the Old Post Office Building to new offices in Constitution Center. In addition, President Obama’s nominee to lead the agency, William “Bro” Adams, former president of Colby College, had recently…

NCHS Releases Data on Weight Misperception in Children, Sexual Orientation-Based Health Disparities

A recent National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief looks at children’s (8-15 years old) misperception of their weight status. When asked if they felt they were too thin, overweight, or about right, 30 percent of children’s responses did not match their weight status. This misperception was more common among boys (32.2 percent) than girls (28 percent). Seventy-six percent of overweight children and 41.9 percent of obese children described themselves as “about right.” Nearly half (48.5 percent) of underweight children also described themselves as “about right.” More than 12 percent of healthy weight children (over 2 million) believed themselves…

Interagency Statistical Forum Publishes Special Report on Young Adults

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics has published a report, America’s Young Adults: Special Issue, 2014, that pulls data from nationally representative federal surveys on the demographics; education; economic circumstances; family formation; civic, social, and personal behavior; and health and safety of adults aged 18-24. A press release about the report notes: “American young adults are more racially and ethnically diverse, more likely to graduate from high school, and attend college, and less likely to smoke than previous generations… However, the young adults have more student debt than generations past, earn less than their counterparts in the…

AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition Reflects on Five Years

The Science and Human Rights Coalition of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) held its biannual meeting on July 14 and 15. COSSA is a member of the Coalition, which is a “network of scientific and engineering membership organizations that recognize a role for scientists and engineers in human rights.” This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Coalition’s founding, and the meeting provided an opportunity for members to look back on what has been accomplished and consider new directions for the future.  An anniversary celebration is planned for October of this year.

IOM Workshop Asks “Can Food Be Addictive?”

The Food Forum at the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) held a workshop on July 9 and 10 on Relationships between the Brain, Digestive System, and Eating Behavior. The Food Forum is chaired by Francis Busta, University of Minnesota, St. Paul.  Eric Decker, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, chaired the workshop planning committee. Early presentations explored the physiological interactions between the brain and the digestive system, and later sessions assessed the science and methodologies behind the “food addiction” model.

New COSSA Member: American Academy of Arts & Sciences

We are delighted to welcome the American Academy of Arts & Sciences to the COSSA membership. Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, the Academy is one of the nation’s oldest learned societies and serves as an independent policy research center, providing “authoritative and nonpartisan policy advice to decision-makers in government, academia, and the private sector.” We are thrilled that they have joined the COSSA community. COSSA’s full membership list can be viewed online. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

COSSA Endorses AAAS Statement on Disabilities Treaty Ratification

COSSA has endorsed the statement of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Board of Directors urging the Senate to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Adopted in 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly, the CRPD has been ratified by 146 countries. The U.S. was a signatory on the treaty, but previous attempts to ratify it in the Senate have failed. The Convention may again be brought to the Senate as early as this summer.

COSSA Urges Increased Funding for Transportation Statistics Agency

On July 15, COSSA joined several other national associations on a letter to Transportation Committee chairs and ranking members in the House and Senate urging increased funding for the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) at the U.S. Department of Transportation in fiscal year (FY) 2015. As the letter reads, “The BTS is the principal source of timely, accurate, and objective information on the current state, safety, and performance of highway, rail, air, maritime, and pipeline transportation systems.” Back to this issue’s table of contents.

NIGMS Issues Challenge / Seeks Input on Proposed New Grant Program

Two requests from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) give social and behavioral scientists the opportunity to provide input: To highlight discoveries and breakthroughs that have been enabled by funding from the Institute, and Respond to  its time-sensitive Request for Information (RFI) to assist the Institute in its planning for a potential new program tentatively called Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA).

Draft COMPETES/NSF Bill Released in the Senate

Late last week, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee released a draft of its America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2014.  The Committee is seeking comment from interested organizations by this Friday, July 25, which can be sent to committee staff. COSSA intends to support the legislation. The America COMPETES Act is bipartisan legislation originally enacted in 2007 and reauthorized in 2010 to revitalize the U.S. scientific enterprise by making critical investments in U.S. basic science agencies.  These investments were intended to ensure the U.S.’s continued standing as the global leader in science and technology innovation.  COMPETES serves as authorizing legislation for the…

COSSA Washington Update, Volume 33 Issue 13

In this issue… Congressional Activities & News FY 2015 Spending Bills May Wait for the Lame Duck Senate Democrats and House Republicans Begin Higher Ed Act Reauthorization Federal Agency & Administration Activities & News Nominations Sought for 2015 Vannevar Bush and Public Service Awards FDA Seeks Comments on its Strategic Priorities, 2014-2018 Notable Publications & Community Events NRC Releases Furthering America’s Research Enterprise Report NDD United Addresses Continued Threats to Discretionary Spending AAAS Seeks Nominations for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award COSSA Member Activities Importance of Statistics Highlighted by ASA White Papers and International Year of Statistics Workshop Report COSSA…

FY 2015 Spending Bills May Wait for the Lame Duck

As the Congressional August recess approaches in just a few weeks, it has become all but certain that a continuing resolution (CR) will be enacted to push work on the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills to after the November midterm elections. The House and Senate are likely to be consumed with the President’s proposals for supplemental funding to address the migrant child crisis and wildfires out west during the scant remaining summer workdays, leaving little time to advance any of the FY 2015 spending measures before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. Despite Senate leadership’s promise to…

Senate Democrats and House Republicans Begin Higher Ed Act Reauthorization

On June 26, House Republicans announced three new bills in what they are calling their “piecemeal” approach to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA), last reauthorized in 2008. Since the last COSSA Washington Update, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released a full discussion draft outlining his vision for reauthorization. Public comment on the Senate draft is being accepted until August 29.

Nominations Sought for 2015 Vannevar Bush and Public Service Awards

The National Science Board (NSB), the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF) that also advises the President on science policy, has issued a solicitation of nominations for its 2015 honorary awards. The NSB honors outstanding research leaders annually through its Vannevar Bush Award and Public Service Award. Nominations for the 2015 awards are due by October 1, 2014.

FDA Seeks Comments on its Strategic Priorities, 2014-2018

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with “protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; ensuring the safety of foods, cosmetics, and radiation-emitting products; and regulating tobacco products.” Every four years, the FDA updates its Strategic Priorities document, which outlines the agency’s strategic intentions and plans for the years ahead. The agency is currently seeking comments to help it refine its Strategic Priorities FY 2014-2018.

NRC Releases Furthering America’s Research Enterprise Report

On June 27, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies released its report, Furthering America’s Research Enterprise. The report, which was originally called for in the America COMPETES Act of 2011, is the culmination of work by a Committee on Assessing the Value of Research in Advancing National Goals. Language in the America COMPETES Act called on the National Science Foundation (NSF) to contract with the National Academies on a study to “develop improved impact-on-society metrics” for federal investment in research and development. The Committee decided to broaden the study to also look at the National Institutes of…

NDD United Addresses Continued Threats to Discretionary Spending

On July 8, NDD United, a coalition of a wide variety of groups and stakeholders interested in protecting nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending from budget cuts, held a town hall meeting to discuss continuing threats and the potential for further cuts to discretionary spending. Among the threats, NDD United emphasized (1) the continuation of flat funding for NDD spending, and (2) the possibility of a new constitutional convention that could lead to a balanced budget amendment.

AAAS Seeks Nominations for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is seeking nominations for its annual Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility. The award honors scientists and individuals who have “acted to protect the public’s health, safety, or welfare; or focused public attention on important potential impacts of science and technology on society by their responsible participation in public policy debates; or established important new precedents in carrying out the social responsibilities or in defending the professional freedom of scientists and engineers.” Nominations are due by September 1, 2014. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Importance of Statistics Highlighted by ASA White Papers and International Year of Statistics Workshop Report

The American Statistical Association (ASA), a COSSA governing member, has released three white papers detailing how statistics can contribute to the Administration’s research initiatives and priorities, particularly those of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  The white papers focus on the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, the Big Data Research and Development Initiative, and climate change.  In an overview of the white papers, ASA Director of Science Policy Steve Pierson observed that the papers share several common themes:


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