homeprev issuesexecpublic affairsSTAFFASA home

Public Affairs Update

  • NSF “Doubling Bill” passes House and Senate . . . . The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a major source of basic science funding in sociology, and, in mid-November, Congress voted to authorize progressive increases in NSF’s budget from its current $4-plus billion to more than $9 billion by the end of a five-year period beginning in Fiscal Year 2003. As we go to press, it remains to be signed by the President, but his approval is expected, and there is even a “buzz” around Washington that there may be White House fanfare associated with this event. While increases in NSF funding do not always translate to proportional increases for social science, there is reasonable expectation that the “rising tide” in NSF’s budget, if not exactly “float our boat,” will positively impact social science basic research support.

  • White House science chief talks social science . . . . The President’s science advisor, John Marburger, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), spoke positively and in an informed manner regarding the social sciences in his recent keynote address at the annual meeting of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (ASA is a member). (See “Vantage Point” on page 2 of this Footnotes.) Marburger has organized OSTP to increase the presence and influence of the social sciences. Having reduced OSTP’s number of Associate Directors to two (to reduce perceived bureaucratic fragmentation in the agency), he has enhanced the roles of the eight Assistant Directors who head up disciplinary departments, one of which is devoted to social and behavioral sciences and education. The Associate Director for Science, Kathie Olsen, received training in both psychology and biology, and James Griffin, the Assistant Director for social and behavioral sciences and education, is a psychologist by training, while Russ Neuman, a Senior Policy Analyst in the technology division, is a sociologist by training. Griffin has been holding regular meetings with the social science community for a number of years, and representatives of this community had a positive meeting with Olsen shortly after she arrived at OSTP . . . .

  • . . . And, it’s no secret … White House science advisor has been tapping social science perspectives on terrorism research . . . . Marburger, recently publicly summarized some of OSTP’s (the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) actions in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Speaking to the social science community at the Consortium of Social Science Association’s annual meeting, Marburger recounted how OSTP christened an Antiterrorism Task Force in order to assess homeland security-relevant research and technology within the federal government. Four interagency working groups were formed to inventory current R&D, in order to identify both omissions and opportunities in specific areas, including social, behavioral, and educational (SBE) R&D. OSTP’s Jim Griffin, along with Norman Bradburn, National Science Foundation (NSF), and Raynard Kington, National Institutes of Health (NIH), co-chaired the SBE group. Representatives from NSF, NIH, Department of Justice, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Department of Education, Department of Defense, and the Central Intelligence Agency together analyzed the current SBE portfolio. Some areas identified for enhancement include: (1) Information infrastructure development to support research on distributed, redundant databases for state and local emergency response using geographic and spatial imaging data. (2) Behavioral and risk management research to support research on individual assessment and reaction to extreme events; terrorist forensics; modeling behavioral and cognitive capabilities and new ways to enhance performance; and performance in detecting rare, low-probability, high-consequence events. (3) Research on terrorist-related crime and networks to examine how terrorist groups select, recruit, and train members; select targets and attack methods, organize, and communicate. (4) Public health and crisis response intervention research supports studies of traumatic stress following terrorist acts, as well as clinical management of post-traumatic stress and intervention. (5) Socioeconomic intervention and international policy research.

  • Orlando Taylor elected as COSSA’s next president . . . . The Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) has elected Orlando Taylor, Dean of the Howard University Graduate School, as its next president. COSSA advocates on behalf of the social and behavioral sciences, representing more than 100 professional associations (including ASA), research institutes, think tanks, universities, and scientific societies. It serves as a bridge between the academic research community and the nation’s policymaking community. Taylor will replace former U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Janet Norwood, who will remain on the Board of Directors. Taylor will serve a two-year term beginning January 1, 2003. In addition to serving as Graduate Dean, Taylor also holds a faculty position at Howard as Professor in the School of Communications. He is currently principal investigator on grants from NSF, the Lilly Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Much of his work focuses on increasing the number of minority PhD recipients.

  • Sociologist Laura L. Miller appointed to the Army Science Board . . . . Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White appointed military sociologist Laura L. Miller to the Army Science Board, a federal advisory committee on science and technology. Board members conduct policy-relevant research and make recommendations to the Secretary, the Army Chief of Staff, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology), Army Staff, and major Army commanders. For more than a decade Miller has conducted research on rank, race, and gender relations in the U.S. Army and on the sociology of peacekeeping operations. Miller has interviewed, observed, and surveyed U.S. troops at numerous stateside posts and in several overseas operations. She is currently a Full Social Scientist at RAND, an independent think tank headquartered in Santa Monica, California.