Updates from FABBS
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
FABBS Member Societies and Friends:
I organized some meetings last week with the majority and minority staff of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. I was joined by a number of colleagues from the Coalition for National Science Funding, which advocates for support for the National Science Foundation.
We learned that there will be an effort to formally reauthorize the National Science Foundation this year. You may recall that late last year, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA) passed, which included some important policy provisions such as reducing administrative burdens on researchers. Since the AICA was a bipartisan effort, it did not contain some of the more controversial provisions that have concerned us in recent years. This may very well change -- and soon.
A new NSF reauthorization bill is where we are likely to see cuts (perhaps significant) in authorized funding for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate at NSF, as well as the Geosciences Directorate (which funds climate change research). In our meeting this week, we were told by majority staff that the Chairman is supportive of increasing overall funding in basic research at NSF, but any increases would be targeted to biological, physical, chemical, computer science disciplines, and not the social and behavioral sciences or geosciences. The majority also told us that the Chairman appreciates interdisciplinary research and "how the behavioral and social sciences play into it." The committee would also like to focus on reproducibility in science, and the staffer noted that progress in this area was being made.
In our meeting with Minority staff, the focus was largely on being prepared for the cuts and possible attacks on awards in the social and behavioral sciences and geosciences as not being in the national interest. We were reminded that not only do the Democrats not have the votes in Committee, there is no stopping these bills at the White House through a Presidential veto.
This is what we have expected, so we're continuing to gear up for this challenge. At this time, we encourage you to make sure that you're signed up to receive our newsletter (go to fabbs.org), where we will update you on matters related to NSF, NIH, the Institute for Education Sciences, and the overall federal budget. We will also post Action Alerts through our newsletter lists.
If you are a member scientific society, I will also be reaching out to you separately for additional assistance. And you should make sure that you are receiving notifications on your bulletin board account so that you can stay up-to-speed on any discussions from staff and other societies.
This year, perhaps more than any other, we will need not only your continued support, but the involvement of you and your colleagues.
P.S. In case you missed it, the Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee had an opinion piece recently in USAToday, which gives you a sense of the Committee's direction in the 115th Congress. http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/02/22/science-foundation-research-taxpayer-funding-lamar-smith-column/98012732/
Paula Skedsvold, JD PhD
Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences
1001 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20036