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. 

Congress Continues Focus on Mental Health in Subcommittee Hearing

On February 17, the House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the national mental health crisis and plans to address it. The hearing, overseen by Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Ranking Member Morgan Griffith (R-VA), is the third Congressional hearing in the past month focused on potential policy solutions related to mental health (see previous coverage for more details). The witnesses present at the hearing were American Psychiatric Association member and vice-chair of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco Dr. Lisa Fortuna, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University Dr….

NIH Seeking Comments on Upcoming Diversity Strategic Plan

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking stakeholder comments in regards to the proposed framework for the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) currently in development. This strategic plan is being developed in response to an Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce released in June 2021 by the Biden Administration. The framework currently names three major objectives of the strategic plan: Implement organizational practices to center and prioritize DEIA in the workforce; Grow and sustain DEIA through structural and cultural change; and Advance…

Bob Valdez Named New ARHQ Director

On February 22, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) announced that Robert “Bob” Otto Valdez had been appointed as the agency’s director and would assume leadership responsibilities immediately. Dr. Valdez comes to the agency with a lengthy career in health disparities research and policy, having previously been the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of Interagency Health Policy during the Clinton Administration. He has also served as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Professor Emeritus of Family & Community Medicine and Economics at the University of New Mexico and led several global health initiatives focused on health promotion…

NSF Announces New “Open-Source Ecosystems” Program

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has established a new interdisciplinary program called “Pathways to Enable Open-Source Ecosystems” (POSE), which is intended to “harness the power of open-source development for the creation of new technology solutions to problems of national and societal importance.” The program will fund the establishment of entities to manage networks of open-source products and platforms with the goal of ensuring “more secure open-source products, increased coordination of developer contributions, and a more focused route to impactful technologies.” The program will accept two types of proposals: Phase I projects, focused on “scoping” the development of a potential Open-Source…

PAA to Host Virtual Briefing on Trends Affecting Rural Communities

The Population Association of America (PAA), a COSSA governing member, is hosting a Congressional briefing entitled “Small Towns/Big Trends: Demographic Insights on Living, Working, and Thriving,” that will feature an expert panel presenting research regarding demographic, economic, health, and environmental challenges and opportunities facing U.S. rural communities. The virtual briefing will take place on March 18, at 12:00 pm ET. Participants can register for the briefing here.

House Passes Innovation, NSF Legislation, Setting Stage for Negotiations with Senate

On February 4, 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). The nearly 3,000-page package is the product of months of work across several House Committees on a suite of bills related to advancing the U.S. STEM enterprise and shoring up U.S. scientific competitiveness, especially with respect to China. The bill includes a range of provisions, including a reauthorization of the National Science Foundation (NSF), research security directives, initiatives aimed at broadening participation in science, and combatting sexual and other forms of harassment. COSSA has…

FY 2022 Funding to be Delayed Until March 11

Congress has yet to enact final fiscal year (FY) 2022 funding legislation almost five months into the fiscal year. The federal government has been operating under a continuing resolution (CR) since October 1, 2021, which is set to expire this Friday, February 18. Last week, House and Senate leaders announced they had come to agreement on a framework that would allow lawmakers to complete work on the overdue annual spending bills. A new stopgap funding measure was passed by the House last week giving lawmakers until March 11 to complete their work. The Senate is seeking to pass the extension…

House Subcommittee Weighs Arguments for an Independent ARPA-H

On February 8, the Subcommittee for Health within the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (E&C) held a hearing on the proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) with a heavy focus of the discussion on the structure of the agency within the federal government. Among other issues, members of the Committee heard testimony on whether a DARPA-like research agency should be housed within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as proposed by the Biden Administration or established as an independent agency under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Witnesses included Vice Chancellor for Science Policy and…

Congress Holds Hearings on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

Earlier this month, the Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held hearings to discuss issues related to mental health, including youth mental health and substance use disorders. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy was the sole witness at the Finance Committee’s hearing, while the HELP Committee featured Chief Science Officer of the American Psychological Association Dr. Mitch Prinstein (a member of the COSSA Board of Directors), Vice Chair of Education in the Psychiatry Department at Boston Medical Center Dr. Michelle Durham, Director of the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other…

White House Seeks Input on Update to AI R&D Plan

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is seeking input on updates to the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research and Development Strategic Plan. The most recent update to the plan (2019) sets out 8 strategic aims for AI R&D: Make long-term investments in AI research. Develop effective methods for human-AI collaboration. Understand and address the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI. Ensure the safety and security of AI systems. Develop shared public datasets and environments for AI training and testing. Measure and evaluate AI technologies through standards and benchmarks. Better understand the national AI R&D workforce…

NSF to Fund New Research Data System Resource

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) has announced the establishment of a new data platform to “modernize data collection and management to maximize the scientific value of people-centered data, enabling efficient and innovative multidisciplinary research focused on serving society and improving the lives of people in the U.S.” Funded under NSF’s Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure II program (see previous coverage), the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research will establish a Research Data Ecosystem: A National Resource for Reproducible, Robust, and Transparent Social Science Research in the 21st Century. More details about the new…

Nominations Open for the National Medal of Science

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a call for nominations for the 2022 National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor in the United States, which recognizing outstanding individuals’ contributions to science, including to the physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, and behavioral or social sciences. Candidates will be considered on the following criteria: The impact of an individual’s body of work on science; The significance of an individual’s achievements on the development of through in science; Distinguished service in the general advancement of science; Recognition by peers within the scientific community; Contributions to innovation and industry; Influence on education through…

National Academies Board on Environmental Change and Society Seeks Nominations

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) is seeking nominations for individuals to serve three-year terms on the Board on Environmental Change and Society (BECS). The Board mobilizes social and behavioral sciences to identify equitable and effective solutions to the challenges at the intersection of environmental change and society. The Academies is seeking qualified nominees with expertise in behavior decision making; environmental decision making; sociology; anthropology; risk perception, uncertainty, and communication; big data; environmental change; mitigation and adaptation management and transitions; transformative change; systems science; socio-ecological systems; environmental justice; economics; environmental policy and law; psychology; environmental and occupational health;…

House Introduces New Version of Sweeping Research and Innovation Bill; Vote Expected 

On January 25, Democrats in the House of Representatives introduced the America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521). As previously reported, House and Senate leaders have been working on innovation and competitiveness legislation for more than two years now. While the House’s approach has been to focus on shoring up the U.S. scientific enterprise through targeted investments in the National Science Foundation and other science agencies, the Senate’s focus has been more squarely on competing with China through investments in key technologies. This has made negotiations between the House and Senate challenging. The new House bill appears to be the…

Registration Opens for COSSA’s 2022 Social Science Advocacy Day

COSSA members are invited to register for COSSA’s 2022 virtual Social Science Advocacy Day on March 29. Social Science Advocacy Day is the only annual, coordinated advocacy day in support of all of the social and behavioral sciences. The event brings together social scientists and other science advocates from across the country to engage with policymakers. Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, the registration fee for Advocacy Day is only $25, but spots are limited, so register soon. Sponsors help COSSA to defray the costs of our Advocacy Day, while providing organizations with additional visibility among colleagues in the social and…

February Headlines to Feature Deep Dive on Preserving Cultural Heritage

February’s COSSA Headlines webinar will feature a deep dive discussion with anthropologist Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Institution Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, who will share information about his work preserving cultural heritage. COSSA members should watch for an email on Thursday, February 4 with details on how to register (sign up for members-only emails here). Information on how to register will be posted to this page.

SSRC President Anna Harvey Answers “Why Social Science?”

The latest Why Social Science? guest post comes from Anna Harvey, President of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), who writes about a new SSRC initiative to combat health mis- and disinformation.

Lawmakers Looking to Move Delayed FY 2022 Spending Bills; Feb 18 Deadline Looms

The current continuing resolution (CR) keeping the federal government open expires on February 18. Fiscal year (FY) 2022 began on October 1, 2021 without any of the 12 annual appropriations bills having been enacted into law. Reports indicate that House and Senate leadership are gauging the possibility of finalizing the FY 2022 spending measures before the CR deadline in just a couple weeks. The most likely outcome is a sweeping omnibus appropriations bill packaging all or some of the individual bills into a single measure. However, before that can happen, leaders must reach an agreement on top-line funding levels—that is,…

Senate Committee Releases Draft of Bipartisan Pandemic Preparedness Bill, Seeks Feedback

On January 25, Senate leadership from the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) released a draft of the PREVENT Pandemics Act, a new piece of bipartisan legislation aimed at strengthening public health and pandemic preparedness responses, including research responses to COVID-19. The draft, which was jointly released by HELP Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC), is currently structured in five parts: strengthening federal and state preparedness; improving public health preparedness and response capacity; accelerating research and countermeasure discovery; modernizing the supply chain for vital medical products; and enhancing development and combating shortages of medical…

White House Releases Science Integrity Report

On January 11, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released the report of its Scientific Integrity Fast-Track Action Committee, a group created by President Biden charged with identifying ways the federal government at all levels can preserve the accuracy and objectivity of science and protect government science from suppression, manipulation, and political interference. The report was developed in response to a 2021 Presidential Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking, which COSSA has been reporting on and that aligns with COSSA’s recommendations to the Biden Administration delivered in late 2020. The…

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