| Behavioral and Social Science
Research in the Administration's FY 2005 Budget
Heather Kelly, Ph.D., and Patricia Kobor, American
Psychological Association; Howard Silver, Ph.D., Consortium
of Social Science Associations; and
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Education (ED) are the primary funders of behavioral and social science research. Lesser but important support for some subdisciplines comes from the National Institute of Justice, the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The federal government is the primary sponsor of both basic and applied behavioral and social science research. Highlights of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 budget include:
- At NSF, the "Human and Social Dynamics" priority area, which focuses on behavioral and social science research, would receive $23.4 million in the President's FY 2005 budget, slightly less than in FY 2004.
- At NIH, behavioral and social science research on sexuality and health was reviewed and defended by the NIH Director in response to scrutiny and questions by some members of Congress and the Traditional Values Coalition, a conservative grassroots organization.
- Despite substantial appreciation for the critical role played by applied behavioral, cognitive and social science in helping the military adapt to an ever-changing global environment, DOD investment in this research would be cut by 11.8 percent in the FY 2005 budget.
- The Administration's FY 2005 budget includes a transfer of the Research
and Innovation in Special Education account to the Institute of Education
Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education.
Growth in the behavioral and social and science research (BSSR) portfolio
is slowing, as are many other areas of science, in response to the modest
increase for NIH in FY 2004. The outlook for modest growth continues in
estimates based on the President's FY 2005 budget. According to estimates
from the Office of Budget, growth of BSSR research from FY 2003 to FY
2004 would be approximately $77.5 million. The increase to FY 2005 would
be $70 million (see Table 1).
Table 1. Behavioral
Research and Social Science Research (in millions)
Source: NIH Office of Budget estimates.
Information on the amount of BSSR funded by each institute
and center (ICs) is collected by the NIH Budget Office as part of what
is informally called "the disease list" (a multi-page list of
diseases, conditions, etc., for which NIH is required to report its research
expenditures to Congress). All NIH ICs fund at least some BSSR in their
research portfolios. Although the data collected from the ICs by the Budget
Office are less than reliable in specific instances, the trends shown
in Table 1 are seen by the ICs as good reflections of their BSSR investments.
The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) in the OD coordinates research initiatives that are relevant to multiple NIH institutes and centers. OBSSR's appropriation for FY 2003 was $25.6 million, with a slight increase to $25.9 million in FY 2004. The proposal for FY 2005 is $26.3 million, an increase of just 1.5 percent. Research spending on BSSR appears to be decreasing in the OD but the decrease is primarily a result of more accurate reporting (e.g. administrative costs are no longer included in OBSSR's total BSSR estimate).
Virginia Cain, a sociologist-demographer, is Acting Director of OBSSR. She has held the position since former director Raynard Kington was appointed Deputy Director of NIH in early 2003. The appointment of a new director for OBSSR is expected by the summer of 2004.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the federal education research agency, would receive a modest program increase in one of its programs, but proposed structural changes may have more long-term impact than the amount of funds appropriated. Contained in the Administration proposal are a modest increase for research, development and dissemination; level funding on other spending within IES; and two critical alterations for the agency.
Congress provided increases in FY 2004 that were smaller than the Administration request for that year, and the FY 2005 budget reiterates the Administration's FY 2004 proposed increases. However, the proposed budget would eliminate the long-standing Regional Educational Laboratories program, transferring its functions to the Comprehensive Centers in Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies. The Administration request also reflects legislative language, pending in both House and Senate bills reauthorizing IDEA, which would transfer Research and Innovation in Special Education to IES.
The need for more and better evidence about what works in education has made research critically important, and the federal role in education research continues to guide the nation's overall education research portfolio. The continued federal focus on improving education results, combined with identification and implementation of research-based programs, is necessary to direct policy and improve education results, close the achievement gap, and wisely use increasingly scarce education resources. However, the Administration FY 2005 budget request would not fulfill funding hopes generated by the reauthorization of the Institute of Education Sciences in 2004. Research would gain $19.5 million for FY 2005, but would only increase from $165.5 million to $185 million.
Contained in the budget is a commitment to support eight national research and development centers. Funds, an expected $1 to $2 million for each center, would be available for competing four National Research and Dissemination Centers for five years each on: rural education, postsecondary education, improving low achieving schools, and innovation in education reform. Field-initiated evaluations would also be competed.
Reprising last year's Administration proposal, the Regional Educational Laboratories would not be funded, eliminating a critical link in the research-to-practice continuum. The Administration justified the proposed elimination by citing lack of needed improvement in structure and function and the deficit of high quality research and development products or evidence-based training and technical assistance. The What Works Clearinghouse, focusing on research supporting the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, the National Library of Education and the ERIC clearinghouses would be continued.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) would receive $91.7 million, identical to FY 2004. NCES would continue the collection, analysis, and dissemination of education-related statistics. The National Assessment of Educational Progress and the National Assessment Governing Board would maintain their on-going activities at the $94.8 million FY 2004 level. (For more on NCES, see Chapter 22.)
Research and Innovation in Special Education would be maintained at its FY 2004 level of $78.1 million. It would become a fourth center in IES providing research and dissemination activities germane to special education. (For more on the Department of Education, see Chapter 5.)
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (NSF) SOCIAL, BEHAVIORAL AND ECONOMIC SCIENCES (SBE) DIRECTORATE (www.nsf.gov/sbe)
On March 12, 2004, Norman Bradburn is expected to leave NSF after four years as Assistant Director for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE). His tenure has been marked by the development of the Human and Social Dynamics priority area and its acceptance by the NSF hierarchy as an important component of the Foundation's program. The four years have also been a period of frustration as Congress has rejected large proposed spending boosts for the directorate and has continued to allocate directorate funding by percentages that, because of the directorate's small base, make it difficult to achieve significant increases to its funding.
In addition, the Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE),
while still included in the SBE funding account, is now a Foundation-wide
activity working closely with all the directorates. Funding for OISE includes
transfers ($12.8 million in FY 2003) from the State Department for an
award to the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation.