November 3, 2014   Volume 33, Issue 20

In This Issue
Outcome of Midterm Elections May Not Offer Clarity over FY 2015 Endgame
COSSA Weighs in on National Children's Study Framework
NSF's SBE Directorate Seeks to Fill Numerous Leadership Posts
Census Bureau Seeks Comment on Proposed Elimination of ACS Questions
NIH Makes Awards to Enhance Diversity of the Scientific Workforce
OHRP Solicits Comments on Draft Guidance on Risk Disclosure in Research Evaluating Standards of Care
CDC Requests Nominations for Board of Scientific Counselors, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response
SACHRP Considers Consent in Low-Risk Online Studies
NIMH Creates New Unit to Support Its Research Domain Criteria Initiative
National Science Board Launches New STEM Education Resource
NIH: 2015 NIH Director's Early Independence Awards

featured article

Outcome of Midterm Elections May Not Offer Clarity over FY 2015 Endgame 

The remaining weeks of 2014 could see an effort to pass a sweeping omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2015, should the Republicans gain control of the Senate after the midterm Congressional elections tomorrow.  Even though the Democrats would still control the Senate until January, Republican leaders have stated that under such a scenario they would work during the lame duck session to pass an omnibus, allowing the 114th Congress to start in January with a clean slate.  However, such a feat has proven impossible in recent history.  For example, the FY 2014 appropriations process was not completed until January of this year, and the stalemate over the FY 2013 appropriations bills led to the 16-day federal government shutdown; the FY 2013 appropriations process finally concluded six months into the fiscal year.

The federal government in currently operating under a continuing resolution (CR) until December 11 (see the September 22, 2014 COSSA Washington Update).  Though the midterm elections will take place tomorrow, given the closeness of a handful of key Senate races that could result in runoffs, it may not be immediately clear which party will control the Senate in 2015.  It also leaves the outlook for completion of the FY 2015 appropriations bills unclear.

cossa in action

COSSA Weighs in on National Children's Study Framework

On October 26, COSSA sent a letter to the National Children's Study (NCS) Working Group, a subgroup of the National Institutes of Health Advisory Council to the Director, outlining concerns with the NCS framework and raising other issues for consideration as the working group progresses with its review the program.  As the letter states, "the NCS has the potential to become an invaluable resource, yielding new insights into the complex linkages between social, genetic, and environmental factors and how these factors interact to influence health, growth and development across the life course. To ensure the study produces meaningful data, the NCS study design is paramount."   COSSA believes that the "benefits associated with drawing a representative sample in the NCS far outweigh its incremental costs."


The Working Group is charged with "evaluating whether the NCS is feasible, as currently outlined, especially in light of increasing and significant budget constraints."  If the Working Group thinks that it is feasible, it is asked to assess "how NIH can move forward to implement necessary changes," including some of those outlined in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report (see Update, June 30, 2014).  Conversely, if it feels that the study is not feasible, the Working Group is asked to identify "whether there are new methods to answer key research questions that are most important to pediatric health today that capitalize on research and technology advances developed in the intervening years since the inception of the study."

Keep up on COSSA in the news here.

FEderal Agency & Administration News

NSF's SBE Directorate Seeks to Fill Numerous Leadership Posts 

The Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking interested applicants for several leadership posts, including directors for two SBE divisions. The open positions include:

In addition, NSF recently announced that Joanne Tornow, SBE Deputy Assistant Director, will leave SBE in December to lead the NSF Office of Information and Resource Management (OIRM). A search will commence for a new SBE Deputy Assistant Director. In the meantime, Clifford Gabriel, most recently the acting head of OIRM, will serve as Acting Deputy Assistant Director for SBE.

Census Bureau Seeks Comment on Proposed Elimination of ACS Questions

On October 31, the U.S. Census Bureau within the Department of Commerce issued a request for public comment related to the 2014 Content Review of the American Community Survey (ACS). According to the Federal Register Notice, the 2014 review "is the most comprehensive effort ever undertaken by the Census Bureau to review content on the survey, seeking to understand which federal programs use the information collected by each question, the justification for each question, and assess how the Census Bureau might reduce respondent burden." The review looked at the ACS's 72 questions and proposed removal of seven from the annual questionnaire. Among the seven questions slated for elimination is the question on "Undergraduate Field of Degree." This potential move raises concerns for many in the social and behavioral sciences community, as well as the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, which uses the data collected via the "field of degree" question in its efforts to measure and track the U.S. science and engineering workforce.


More information can be found in the Federal Register Notice. Comments are due December 30, 2014.

NIH Makes Awards to Enhance Diversity of the Scientific Workforce

On October 22, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the awarding nearly $31 million in FY 2014 to enhance diversity in the biomedical research workforce. The awards are part of a five-year program and will "support more than 50 awardees and partnering institutions in establishing a national consortium to develop, implement, and evaluate approaches to encourage individuals to start and stay in biomedical research careers." Twelve of the awards will be supported by the NIH Common Fund and all of the NIH 27 institutes and centers and will be part of three initiatives that form the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-funded Workforce program.


Read on for more details.

OHRP Solicits Comments on Draft Guidance on Risk Disclosure in Research Evaluating Standards of Care

The Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) has issued draft guidance on "Disclosing Reasonably Foreseeable Risks in Research Evaluating Standards of Care." As more and more comparative effectiveness research is conducted to evaluate different treatments commonly used by medical practitioners ("standards of care"), the guidance is an attempt to assist researchers in determining how to disclose potential risks of the different treatments they are studying.

Read on for more details of the draft guidance and how to submit comments.

CDC Requests Nominations for Board of Scientific Counselors, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response

The Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) is seeking nominations for new members for terms beginning in October 2015. The Board provides guidance to CDC and OPHPR leadership, conducts peer review of scientific programs, and monitors the overall strategic direction and focus of the Office. According to the notice in the Federal Register, "Nominees will be selected based on expertise in the fields relevant to the issues addressed by the divisions within the coordinating office, including: business, crisis leadership, emergency response and management, engineering, epidemiology, health policy and management, informatics, laboratory science, medicine, mental and behavioral health, public health law, public health practice, risk communication, and social science."

Nominations must include the candidate's CV and at least one letter of recommendation from a person not employed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The deadline for applications is January 16, 2015. More information is available in the Federal Register.

SACHRP Considers Consent in Low-Risk Online Studies

At its meeting on October 30, the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP) heard a presentation from B.R. Simon Rosser, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, on "The Evolution of Consent in Low-Risk Studies: Lessons from Online Survey Research." He suggested that SACHRP rethink how researchers handle informed consent for low-risk studies conducted over the internet.

Read on for more details.

NIMH Creates New Unit to Support Its Research Domain Criteria Initiative

On October 31, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) announced the creation of a new unit designed to reframe mental health research by facilitating communication among scientists, clinicians, and the public. The new unit was established to support the development of the institute's Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative.


According to NIMH, RDoC "attempts to bring the power of modern research approaches in genetics, neuroscience, and behavioral problems of mental illness, studied independently from the classification systems by which patients are currently grouped." The aim is to accelerate the pace of research that translates basic science into clinical settings "by understanding the multilayered systems that contribute to mental function."


Read on for more details.

PUblications & Community events

National Science Board Launches New STEM Education Resource

On October 28, the National Science Board released a new online resource, STEM Education Resource, where the public can access data on the STEM workforce, including college degrees in STEM fields and jobs in science-related occupations. The interactive tool provides data points, graphics, maps, and other resources to allow users to learn about national trends in STEM, connecting them to the data in the 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators produced by the National Science Board.


Check out the tool here.

funding Opportunities

NIH: 2015 NIH Director's Early Independence Awards

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund recently released its FY 2015 NIH Director's Early Independence Awards (EIA) funding opportunity announcement (RFA-RM-14-004). The NIH Common Fund supports cross-cutting programs that are expected to have exceptionally high impact. These initiatives invite investigators to develop bold, innovative, and often risky approaches to address problems that may seem intractable or to seize new opportunities that offer the potential for rapid progress.


The EIA initiative is designed to allow exceptional junior scientists to accelerate their transition to an independent research career by "skipping" the traditional postdoctoral training. Candidates must be within one year of completing their terminal degree or clinical residency at the time of application. Institutions may submit up to two applications. Letters of intent are due December 30, 2014. Applications are due January 30, 2015.

Events Calendar

The City: 2014 Behavioral and Social Science Summit, Stanford University, November 8, 2014

Webinar: Producing Government Data with Statistical Confidentiality Controls, American Statistical Association Privacy and Confidentiality Committee, December 17, 2014


A list of COSSA members' annual meetings can be found on the COSSA website.

Consortium of Social Science Associations 

Governing Members  

American Anthropological Association 
American Association for Public Opinion Research 
American Economic Association 
American Educational Research Association 
American Historical Association 
American Political Science Association  
American Psychological Association 
American Society of Criminology 
American Sociological Association 
American Statistical Association 
Association of American Geographers 
Association of American Law Schools 
Law and Society Association 
Linguistic Society of America  
Midwest Political Science Association 
National Communication Association 
Population Association of America 
Society for Research in Child Development
Membership Organizations
Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences 
American Evaluation Association
American Finance Association
American Psychosomatic Society
Association for Asian Studies
Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations
Association of Research Libraries
Council on Social Work Education 
Economic History Association
History of Science Society
Justice Research and Statistics Association
Midwest Sociological Society
National Association of Social Workers
North American Regional Science Council
North Central Sociological Association
Rural Sociological Society
Social Science History Association
Society for Anthropological Sciences
Society for Empirical Legal Studies
Society for Research on Adolescence
Society for Social Work and Research
Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Society of Behavioral Medicine
Southern Political Science Association
Southern Sociological Society
Southwestern Social Science Association  
Centers and Institutes

American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 
American Council of Learned Societies 
American Institutes for Research 
The Brookings Institution 
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences 
Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research 
Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan 
Institute for Social Science Research, University of Massachusetts
Institute for Women's Policy Research 
NORC at the University of Chicago 
Population Reference Bureau
RTI International
Social Science Research Council
Vera Institute of Justice

Colleges and Universities  
Arizona State University
Boston University
Brown University
Carnegie-Mellon University
Clark University
Columbia University
Cornell University
Duke University
The George Washington University
Georgetown University
Harvard University
Howard University
Indiana University
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
Johns Hopkins University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Michigan State University
New York University
North Dakota State University
Northwestern University
The Ohio State University
Pennsylvania State University
Princeton University
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
Stanford University
State University of New York, Stony Brook
Texas A & M University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, San Diego
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Chicago
University of Connecticut
University of Delaware
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
University of Iowa
University of Maryland
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Missouri, St. Louis
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
University of Oklahoma
University of Pennsylvania
University of South Carolina
University of Texas, Austin
University of Texas, San Antonio
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin, Madison
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Washington University in St. Louis
West Virginia University
Yale University


    Executive Director:  Wendy A. Naus
Deputy DirectorAngela L. Sharpe
Assistant Director for Public Affairs: Julia Milton
President:  James S. Jackson 


Address all inquiries to COSSA at newsletter@cossa.orgTelephone: (202) 842-3525


The Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) is an advocacy organization promoting attention to and federal support for the social and behavioral sciences.


UPDATE is published 22 times per year.  ISSN 0749-4394.