FOOTNOTES September/October 1999
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PUBLIC AFFAIRS UPDATE

 
Scott Commends ASA Report to House Members . . . . Representative Bobby Scott recently sent the ASA publication, Youth Violence: Children at Risk to all members of the House accompanied by a Dear Colleague letter. Indicating that social science research is key to understanding the problems of youth violence and children at risk, he commends the report and urges more coordinated investment in relevant research. The report is based on a Congressional seminar convened by ASA with presentations from sociologists Delbert Elliott, John Hagan, and Joan McCord. It is available through ASA Publications as part of ASAís new Issue Series in Social Research and Social Policy.

Social and Behavioral Sciences Take Jab in NSF Appropriations Process . . . With some unanticipated negativity, Committee report language that accompanied the Senate appropriations bill (S.R. 161) at the end of September expressed concerns about the profile of funding of economics research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), urged that social and behavioral sciences funded by NSF be tied more to its core mission of promoting the physical sciences, focused primarily on the promise of cognitive and decision sciences, and directed NSF to provide a report on the status of social, behavioral, and economic sciences research by February 3, 2000. Through the efforts of COSSA (Consortium of Social Science Associations) and other scientific societies, the Senate floor debate included a colloquy forcefully presenting the significance of these sciences, but the bite merits monitoring.

Continuing Resolution Puts Research Increases on Hold . . . . The Federal government operates on a continuing resolution until October 21 because Congress did not complete all appropriations bills by the start of the new fiscal year (October 1). The picture is mixed for research as far as the appropriations process has gone. For NSF, the Senate has provided the Administrationís request of 5.8% while the House is at about a 1% decrease from last year. The picture is brighter at NIH with the Senate appropriations committee providing NIH with a 13% boost and the House subcommittee aiming for a 9% increase. Importantly, the temporary spending bill included a special exception for the 2000 census, allocating an additional $189.5 million for the three-week period. This was the amount that Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt said was essential to keep Census 2000 on schedule.

Final Revision on Data Sharing Issued from OMB . . . . With comments running 70% to 30% in favor of the views expressed by Federal science leaders, scientific societies (including ASA), and higher education associations, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a final revision of Circular A-110 that reflected the improvements in the August 11 revision. While use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for sharing research data remains troublesome and further clarifications would have been helpful, this revision is much better than the original proposed revsion released by OMB last February.