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Public Affairs Update

  • Take Heed and Comment on Important Census Rule . . . . With a 45-day comment period until August 4, the Commerce Department issued a proposed rule that would delegate to the Census Bureau the final decision over whether or not to release statistically-corrected census numbers to the states for use in redistricting and for other non-apportionment purposes. The rule is to delegate decisionmaking to the Bureau Director and staff experts to remove the census and the decision to release sampled or non-sampled numbers out of partisan politics. The rule is available in the June 20 issue of the Federal Register at Comments should be sent to John H. Thompson, Associate Director for Decennial Census, Bureau of the Census, Building 2, Room 3586, Suitland and Silver Hill Roads, Suitland, MD 20233.

  • Some Things Sound Better than Others. . . . On the plus side, Rita Colwell, Director of the National Science Foundation, spoke to a receptive audience (the Advisory Committee for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences) referring to the 21st Century as the “century of social science.” Sounds great in the context of her support for a 2003 initiative (which will take over two years in planning) to be led by the social and behavioral sciences. On the minus side, “Golden Fleece” awards may be back. Senator Jeff Sessions has hired a former Proxmire staffer to ostensibly take up this mantle.

  • A First at NIH on Social and Cultural Factors . . . . Over 1,000 registrants attended a first-ever conference on June 27-28 dedicated to research and promising research directions on social aspects of health. Those attending “Toward Higher Levels of Analysis: Progress and Promise on Social and Cultural Dimensions of Health” brought intellectual energy and interest in presenting finding and key areas for future research. The meeting was convened by the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and led by Co-chairs (and sociologists) Christine Bachrach (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) and David Takeuchi (Indiana University). The framework of a report was developed in a post-meeting research workshop. The final document aims to advise NIH on core areas for significant research support.

  • NIH Report on Social and Behavioral Science Research Released . . . . Based on 1998-99 data, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a report on the investment in behavioral and social science topics at NIH institutes. As a first step, it has useful information. For the report, contact OBSSR at (301) 402-1146 or

  • More on NIH and Health Disparities . . . . Reinforced by Congressional interest, NIH is inching closer to establishing a Center for Health Disparities with the budget and grantmaking authority to go with it. Angela Sharpe, Associate Director for Government Affairs at the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), has been watching this closely and working to ensure that any such Center emphasizes the centrality of social science research.

  • Important Reports/Updates Issued on Children and Youth . . . . Two reports are well worth a read for those interested in children, families, education, social inequality, social policy. The fourth edition is now out of Trends in the Well-Being of America’s Children & Youth: 1999 prepared by Child Trends for the Assistant Secretary for Panning and Evaluation (ASPE) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). A PDF version is at It can also be ordered from or (202) 512-1800. The National Kids Count Data Book 2000 released in June by the Annie E. Casey Foundation is available at