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and Social Science Research in the Administration's FY 2007 Budget
Howard J. Silver and Angela L. Sharpe, Consortium
of Social Science Associations;
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) support basic research in the social and behavioral sciences. The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Education (ED) provide major funding for applied social and behavioral research. Further funding for more mission-oriented research also comes from many other agencies including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Labor, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and NASA. In addition, the federal statistical agencies, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, are important for providing funding for data collections used by social/behavioral scientists in their research.
Highlights of the FY 2007 budget include:
- An innovation and competitiveness agenda requires input from the social and behavioral sciences to explain and evaluate individual and organizational change.
- Presidential Science Adviser John Marburger's call for science metrics and a new "science of science policy" presents challenges for the social and behavioral sciences that NSF's Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences directorate will meet.
- NIH's stagnant budget and its focus on NIH-wide initiatives create difficulties for the Institutes and Centers as they try to maintain funding for their behavioral and social science portfolios.
- The National Children's Study, a massive survey to collect data and research early childhood development, will not receive any funding to actually get off the ground.
- The Institute of Education Sciences continues its efforts to evaluate new learning strategies and No Child Left Behind. The new budget includes support for a new longitudinal survey to examine a new cohort of middle and high school students and enhanced support for State-based student achievement data bases.
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (NSF): SOCIAL, BEHAVIORAL, AND ECONOMIC SCIENCES DIRECTORATE (SBE) (www.nsf.gov/sbe)
The NSF supports almost 50 percent of basic research funding in the SBE sciences. David Lightfoot, the new Assistant Director for SBE, arrived in June 2005 after Wanda Ward had served as Acting Assistant Director for 14 months following the departure of Norman Bradburn.
After a significant budget enhancement from FY 2004 to FY 2005, SBE received less than a 2 percent boost from FY 2005 to FY 2006. For FY 2007, the budget proposes $213.8 million for SBE, an increase of close to $14 million and almost 7 percent (see Table II-7).
At the AAAS Policy Forum in April 2005 and again at the COSSA Annual Meeting in November, Presidential Science Adviser John Marburger argued for more attention to the development of science metrics and a "science of science policy." SBE has taken the lead in responding to Marburger's challenge. The FY 2006 current plan for SBE includes $2.7 million for science metrics work in all three divisions. The new budget would spend $6.8 million for this area. The goal is to determine how to reliably evaluate returns received for past R&D investments and to forecast likely returns from future investments.
The Human and Social Dynamics (HSD) priority continues, with SBE's contribution remaining at $31.4 million in 2007. In 2005, SBE in a special competition made small HSD awards to support research on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami in South Asia. The regular competition made awards across a wide variety of projects focused on understanding change in human and social systems and their environments.
With the focus on innovation and competitiveness at the national level of science policy, SBE has reinvigorated its program on Innovation and Organizational Change to support research to understand how individuals, groups, and/or institutions innovate.
SBE will also participate in the NSF emphasis on cyberinfrastructure focusing on its recently increased support for the major social science surveys, working to make supercomputing resources accessible to social scientists, and supporting new cybertechnologies with the potential to transform social research.
SBE will also continue its joint efforts with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Smithsonian Institution to document endangered languages. This will include participation in the International Polar Year (IPY) to support research on disappearing Arctic languages. In conjunction with the IPY, SBE would fund research on "Living in the Cold and Dark" and "Studying Environmental Arctic Change."
The Education and Human Resources directorate's Research, Evaluation and Communication (REC) division is now part of a new division called Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings. REC also has a new name: Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering. Nothing is new about its budget, which suffered a 19 percent decrease in 2006, and would fall another 14 percent in FY 2007.
The Science of Learning Centers, part of NSF's Integrated Activities
budget account, would continue funding the four Centers awarded in the program's
first competition and fund the winners of the competition for new centers begun
in 2005. The program also supports smaller Catalyst Awards on less comprehensive
approaches to learning research.
David Abrams, the new director for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), arrived full time in April 2005. Virginia Cain served as Acting Director in the interim between former OBSSR director Raynard Kington's promotion to National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s Deputy Director and Abrams arrival. He comes just in time to celebrate the OBSSR's 10th anniversary, which will be held June 21 -22, 2006. OBSSR is located in the Office of the Director (OD) and coordinates research initiatives that are relevant to multiple NIH institutes and centers. The FY 2007 request for OBSSR, part of OD's budget, is $26.1 million, the same as in 2006.
As a result of OBSSR's leadership, behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR) is well integrated in most NIH institutes and centers, though not all, and it features prominently in several NIH multi-institute research programs including Roadmap initiatives on interdisciplinary training and clinical research, minority health disparities, and obesity.
1. Behavioral Research and Social Science Research
Participating ICs FY 2005 FY 2006 FY 2007 Actual Estimate Proposed
NIDA (Drug Abuse) 466.8 464.0 461.7
NIH Total 3,044.1 3,026.5 3,005.4
Despite's OBSSR's guidance, the BSSR portfolio is eroding, as are many other areas of science, from two years with minimal to no increases for NIH. The no-growth outlook continues in the FY 2007 budget. According to NIH Office of Budget estimates (see Table 1 above), BSSR research in FY 2006 fell by $17.66 million, or 0.6 percent, and would decrease further in FY 2007 (down 0.7 percent or $21.07 million).
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), once NIH's largest funder of basic BSSR, has shifted its priorities under Director Tom Insel, leading to concerns about its commitment to supporting this research. Although NIMH's overall BSSR portfolio has been shrinking in recent years, there are indications that in the basic research area, a new emphasis on neuroscience has replaced a lot of the previous support for social psychology research.
Fortunately, other institutes, including the National Institutes for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and Aging (NIA) have enhanced their BSSR portfolios. In FY 2007, NIA plans to fund an initiative that addresses reducing disease and disability called the "Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE)," designed to conclusively determine whether physical exercise is effective for preventing major mobility disability and premature death. In the FY 2007 budget, NICHD, which provides strong support for social, behavioral, and demographic research, would end its support for the congressionally-mandated National Children's Study (NCS). This project planned to follow 100,000 children until age 21, examining the actions and outcomes of environmental and genetic factors that influence the children's health and development.
The National Cancer Institute emphasizes that its science is currently "at a crossroad where input and approaches from a breadth of disciplines" is necessary to understand and appreciate cancer science complexities. This includes recognizing the need for research and study designs with the power to uncover "environmental, lifestyle, genetic, and molecular determinants and pathways involved in cancer initiation, promotion, and progression."
Like the other major supporters
of BSSR, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recognizes the value and
importance of relevant, accurate, and timely data as a sound foundation for policy
decisions and informing research priorities. NIDA supports the key legacy data
contained in the Monitoring the Future (MTF) Study, a continuing set of surveys
which assess the changing lifestyles, values, and preferences of young people
with respect to drug use.
The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the federal government's principal agency conducting research on education. Its four Centers, the National Center for Education Research (NCER), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE/RA), and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) comprise the central structure for the agency.
IES-funded research, totaling $554.5 million in FY 2007, has become a crucial component of 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 fundamental to No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This, and similar legislation mandating research-based education programs, makes building the research infrastructure imperative if the department is to have the capacity to direct policy and wisely use increasingly scarce education resources.
NCER, which provides funding for the eight authorized National Research and Development Centers (NRDCs), as well as the What Works Clearinghouse, the National Library of Education, the Education Research Information Clearinghouse, and field-initiated studies, would receive the same funding in FY 2007, $162.6 million, as it did in FY 2006, and down from $164.2 million in FY 2005.
The current research on reading comprehension, mathematics and science education, teacher quality, and cognition and learning in the classroom, connected to No Child Left Behind, would receive additional funds for new awards.
Research and Development Center funding would remain problematic. Each NRDC focuses on a broad education topic of national importance. The currently funded NRDCs concentrate on: Rural Education; Low Achieving Schools; Choice and Innovation; Assessment, Standards and Accountability; and English Language Learners. IES intends to compete three NRDCs this year focusing on Education Policy, Early Childhood Education, and Postsecondary Education. There is one additional NRDC not funded through IES which researches Gifted and Talented Education. These new NRDCs are project oriented as opposed to the previous NRDCs which carried on long term, comprehensive and interdisciplinary research. The new funding amounts provide only approximately one-half the amount received by the preceding NRDCs.
NCES is the primary data source for education programs nationwide and has established large longitudinal data bases on vital issues as well as information archives on specific programs and populations. It provides measures of United States achievement rates in an increasingly globalized world by gathering important data for comparison with other countries. In FY 2007, NCES's budget would increase to $93.0 million from $90.0 million in FY 2006. NCES hopes to initiate a longitudinal study starting with an eighth grade cohort, follow it through high school and the transition to postsecondary education and work. The study would encompass ongoing, detailed information about middle and high school students, parents, teachers and schools.
Unlike in recent years, the Administration did not propose eliminating the ten Regional Educational Laboratories in FY 2007, instead level-funding them at $65.5 million. These Regional Labs provide a critical link in the research-to-practice continuum, carry out research, initiate technology networks and publications, and provide consultation to schools to identify and implement effective practices. Regional governing boards representing the communities they serve guide the labs, thus ensuring activities are targeted to regional educational needs.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which provides the only longitudinal national assessment of student progress, would receive an increase of $4 million to $97.1 million. By testing core subjects it provides information on educational trends important for policy makers, educators and parents. In 2005, NAEP was able to release results on NCLB within six months of data collection, addressing a concern about timely delivery of products and services. The proposed increase would expand activities that support the Administration's initiatives on secondary education. This would include instituting State-level assessments in reading and mathematics at the 12th grade level by 2009. Originally proposed for implementation in 2007, Congress did not fund the initiative due to developing concerns about current assessments.
Research in Special Education would remain level at $71.8 million. NCSER would continue current research aimed improving special education and early intervention services for infants, toddlers and children with disabilities. New projects would focus on autism and infants and toddlers with disabilities. The Special Education Studies and Evaluations program would also remain level at $9.9 million. Its focus is on assessing the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) within the states.
The IES request would more than double funding for development and implementation of Statewide Data Systems to provide longitudinal information on student achievement, including improving capacity for state reporting of high school graduation rates and dropout data.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DOD)
Driven by its mission focus, the Department of Defense (DoD) supports an enormous research and development (R&D) enterprise to the tune of almost $75 billion annually, most of which funds weapons development programs. Within the overall R&D account, DoD's basic and applied research portfolio includes support for behavioral, cognitive and social science. The majority of this research is funded through intramural and extramural programs within the Army Research Institute (ARI) and Army Research Laboratory (ARL); the Office of Naval Research (ONR); the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). All of the services fund research in the broad categories of personnel, training and leadership development; warfighter protection, sustainment and physical performance; and system interfaces and cognitive processing. There are additional, smaller human systems research programs funded through the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Marine Corps, and the Special Operations Command.
DoD "6.1" basic research funding would decrease by 3.3 percent to $1.42 billion in the President's request, with decreases in Army and Navy basic research budgets not quite offset by increases in the Air Force and Defense-wide basic research accounts. Applied "6.2" and "6.3" research support would face even steeper cuts in FY 2007 in all three services, in some cases falling from 2006 levels by over 50 percent.
Within these overall S&T accounts it is unclear at press time how human-centered,
behavioral research programs specifically would fare in each of the military laboratories
and defense-wide agencies. Although some DoD behavioral research programs may
be able to maintain current funding levels under the President's request, it likely
will fall again to Congress to restore overall DOD funding levels and provide
stability for the laboratories' basic and applied research in human systems.