FOOTNOTES NOVEMBER 2000
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Public Affairs Update

  • NSF Gets Big Increase for 2001 . . . With Signal to Invest in Children . . . . The National Science Foundation (NSF) budget (part of VA-HUD funding) was one of ten bills that passed Congress for FY 2001 before the election recess. NSF will get a 13.6 percent increase over FY 2000, bringing funding to $4.426 billion. Language in the conference report accompanying the final bill urges the Social, Behavioral and Economic Science Directorate (SBE) to invest $5 million to implement more fully with a “distinct program” the recommendations of the 1997 National Science and Technology Council’s report Investing in Our Future: A National Research Initiative for America’s Children in the 21st Century. Stay tuned for what this could mean for enhanced support for research on children and how best to enhance its breadth and sociological focus!

  • NEH Too Gets 2001 Budget with a Boost . . . . With passage of the Interior and Related Agencies appropriations bill, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) received a budget for FY 2001 that included a modest increase for the second year running. A $5 million increase brought the total NEH budget to $120.26 million. From 1996 to1999, NEH was flat funded at $110 million, down nearly 40 percent from the FY 1995 appropriation of $177 million. However modest the increase, it is importantly in the right direction.

  • Comments Sought by December 1 on NIH Health Disparities Plan . . . . The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a draft of its five-year plan, NIH Strategic Research Plan to Reduce and Ultimately Eliminate Health Disparities, and called for comments on it through December 1, 2000. With a focus on research, research infrastructure, and public information and community outreach, the NIH plan charts an overarching course for the Institutes that draws on health disparities plans developed by the NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices (including the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research). The plan can be found on www.nih.gov/about/hd/strategicpla.pdf. Comments should be submitted directly to NIH; please also copy ASA at public.affairs@asanet.org.

  • Waite Appointed to NIH Director’s Advisory Committee . . . . Sociologist Linda Waite, was appointed to the Advisory Committee of the NIH Director by Health and Human Services Director Donna Shalala in July. Waite (University of Chicago), a former member of ASA Council and immediate past-Chair of the Family Section, has served in a number of advisory roles at NIH, including on the strategic planning panel of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. The next meeting of the Advisory Committee is December 7.

  • Vigilance on Confidentiality by Commerce and Census. . . . Late October Congressional efforts to attach an amendment to must-pass bills received strong opposition from Commerce Department Secretary Norman Mineta and Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt. Mineta threatened a Presidential veto to any such bill. The effort aims to amend confidentiality provisions of Title 13 and allow the Congressional Budget Office to acquire confidential census data collected in monthly surveys, including the Current Population Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

  • Meanwhile, Census Releases New Report on African Americans . . . . The Bureau just released a report on a wide range of topics related to the African American population. The report, The Black Population in the United States: March 1999, is a compilation of data collected in the March 1999 Current Population Survey and first released on the Internet in February 2000. Data from Census 2000 will be released beginning March 2001. Topics in this new report include geographic distribution, age and sex distribution, family type and size, educational attainment, labor force participation and unemployment, occupation, family income and poverty status. The report is available as a PDF file at http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/race/black.html.

  • PBS Special on The First Measured Century Airs in December . . . . A three-hour PBS program “The First Measured Century,” will be aired on December 20, 2000 at 8:30 p.m. It tells the story of America by the numbers through the eyes of those who did the measuring and interpreting. An important feature of the program is the first appearance of results from “MIddletown IV” the 1999 replication of the Lynds’ Middletown by sociologists Theodore Caplow, Howard Bahr, Bruce Chadwick, and Vaughn Call. The program is hosted by PBS’ Ben Wattenberg. A sneak preview can be seen at www.pbs.org/fmc.