The Society for the
Study of Social Issues

SPSSI Policy News RSS Feed - February 23 2009

Dear SPSSI members,

Here is the latest from the SPSSI Policy News Feed.


Chris Woodside
SPSSI Policy Coordinator


News Item!

Implications for Social Science Research Run Deep in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Earlier this month, President Obama signed into law, H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  The final compromise legislation, which came after substantial niptucking of the original House and Senate versions of the bill, contains substantial funding implications for the field of psychology and the study of social justice.  While not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, the approved stimulus package offers potential resources for SPSSI and other members of the scientific community on a variety of fronts. 

Included below, is a breakdown of the new funding amounts by programmatic area (see NIH summary for a more detailed look at the approximately $10 billion allocated to the Center).  Not all these funding dollars directly impact SPSSI, but all have the possibility of relevancy to our members’ work in some capacity.  For more information on how Congress arrived at these numbers, please access Speaker Pelosi’s Economic Recovery Conference Report Overview.  Stay tuned to the Policy Feed for future updates on the detailed allocation of funds as more information becomes available.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Funding Allocation Breakdown   

NIH:  $10 billion, including $7.4 billion for distribution to the institutes and centers, $1.3 billion for extramural construction and equipment, $800 million for the Office of the Director for trans-NIH initiatives, and $500 million for improvements to the NIH campus (see summary on NIH funding below for more)

AHRQ:  $1.1 billion for comparative effectiveness research, of which $400 million shall be transferred to NIH and $400 million shall be allocated at the discretion of the Secretary of Health and Human Services

NSF:  $3 billion, including $2.5 billion for research, $400 million for construction and equipment, and $100 million for education and human resources

Child Care and Development Block Grant:  $2 billion, with $255 million set aside for quality improvement activities

Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP):  $87 billion for FMAP in order to increase the federal share of Medicaid expenditures to help states avoid cutting eligibility and services for beneficiaries

Head Start and Early Head Start:  $1 billion for Head Start in order to continue current grants through fiscal year 2010; $1.1 billion for Early Head Start to be awarded on a competitive basis and to sustain current grants through fiscal year 2010

Homelessness Prevention Fund:  $1.5 billion to provide assistance to families who may become homeless due to the economic crisis

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):  $12.2 billion for special education, including $11.3 billion specifically designated for programs for school-and preschool-age children with disabilities

Indian Health Service:  $85 million designated for Heath Information Technology infrastructure development and deployment; $415 million for Indian Health Facilities, including specific amounts for maintenance and improvement, sanitation facilities construction, health care facilities construction, and equipment

National School Lunch Program:  $100 million for equipment grants

Prevention and Wellness Fund:  $1 billion for prevention and wellness, including $650 million to utilize evidence-based clinical and community-based prevention and wellness strategies

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC):  $500 million for WIC, including $400 million for reserve funds to cover increased participation or increased food costs

Violence Against Women:  $225 million, including $175 million for the Formula Assistance Program and $50 million for the transitional housing assistance grants

Health Profession Training Programs:  $500 million, of which $300 million is designated for National Health Service Corps recruitment and field activities that will benefit all the eligible health professions, including psychology, and $200 million designated for all the disciplines, including psychology, trained through the primary care medicine and dentistry program, the public health and preventive medicine program, the scholarship and loan repayment programs

Information Technology in Clinical Education:  Funds to be determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to achieve collaborations among various health disciplines' professional schools that will integrate Electronic Health Records into community clinical training

News Item!

Summary of the NIH Briefing on Stimulus Funding Allocations

Last week, NIH Acting Director Raynard Kington, M.D. Ph.D., held a public briefing at the AAAS building in downtown Washington, DC concerning implementation plans for newly approved NIH funding provided under H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The legislation allocates roughly $10 billion in funds to the Center, divided carefully into several categories.  While the Acting Director made clear during the briefing that details as to the actual research funding allocations of the new dollars remain scant at this time (and that the attendees should not even bother to ask questions with regards to this), he did provide the audience with further information as to the process that NIH will utilize to determine the distribution of such funds. 

The Acting Director referred to the three categories of NIH funding as individual “buckets,” each with a separate and specific role.  It was explained that allocations will be based wholly on the priorities of the various Institutes, each Institute’s strategic plan, and the overall mission of NIH.  As identified by the Acting Director, the three “buckets,” or categories of funding, are defined as follows:

1.  RO1s:  Currently, NIH has approximately 14,000 grants that have already been through the peer review process and are approved for funding.  The vast majority of these grants were scheduled for 4 years of research.  Moving forward, however, NIH will be looking at these grants and identifying research proposals specifically lending themselves to a 2-year time frame.  Additionally, it is possible that these funds will be used for new RO1s.  The Acting Director stipulated that these monies should not be viewed as making up for a loss, nor for reinstating previous grants.

2.  Administrative Supplements:  Institutes and Centers are advised to review current grants and offer 2-year supplements to expand research pertaining to the original grant requests.  These supplements may or may not be competitive in nature and would be treated as supplements to existing grants.  

3.  Challenge Grants:  These are identified as grants with new RFAs and a shortened peer review process. Challenge Grants would be based on cross-cutting research supportive of the overall mission of NIH.  The grants would be administered with a maximum of $500,000 each year, for two years only. The Acting Director indicated that the details of this program remain undefined at this time, as NIH leadership is currently working to identify areas with a genuine opportunity to advance the science and also present significant findings within a two-year time frame.  The exact dollar amount that would be used for challenge grants is unknown.

The Acting Director concluded the briefing by assuring attendees that further details pertaining to these announcements will come soon.  SPSSI will be certain to share more information regarding NIH funding as it becomes available.  If you have questions concerning the NIH briefing, please contact SPSSI Policy Coordinator Chris Woodside by e-mail at  

News Item!/Resource

SPSSI Endorsed Working Group on Girls’ Statement Approved by Executive Committee, Added to UN Record

SPSSI members can access the approved Commission on the Status of Women’s WGG statement in full by clicking here.  The document has been officially added to the United Nations' Record.   

Advocacy Alert!

Budget Cuts Threaten Sexuality and Gender Studies; NSRC Advances Petition to Support Science and Protect Education

In many educational institutions across the United States, departments, research and courses in sexuality and gender studies are under serious attack.  What stands to be lost in the elimination of these hugely important academic resources are the contributions that research and scientific inquiry make to sexuality-related policies, programs and interventions worldwide.

Specific instances of these cutbacks include efforts by school administrators and policymakers to use fiscal crisis as an excuse for targeting dollars originally destined to fund sexuality, queer and women's studies courses in various educational institutions and jurisdictions.  One particular example concerns administration officials at Florida Atlantic University who have recently been involved with working to suspend the school’s Women's Studies degree and Master's program—a massive step backwards for efforts to achieve gender equity at that school.   

In the wake of this disturbing trend, the National Sexuality Research Center (NSRC) has developed a petition aimed at protecting these important studies from elimination. The work of researchers and academics involved in these issue areas contributes tremendously to the greater health of all people, and concerned SPSSI members should act now in support of scientific freedom, integrity and education.  The petition is available for your signature here

If you have further questions regarding the content of this petition, please contact SPSSI Policy Coordinator Chris Woodside by e-mail at  Thank you.

Event Recap

SPSSI Attends Launch of AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition

From January 14-16, a gathering of scientific societies and human rights activists, including SPSSI, came together in Washington, DC for the official launch of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition.  AAAS defines the Coalition as a network of scientific and professional organizations aimed at facilitating communication and partnerships in conjunction with human rights research within and across scientific communities. 

The Coalition’s work is grounded in the principles and laws set forth in the International Bill of Rights, comprising the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and all other relevant international human rights treaties and stipulations.

On the first day of the Launch, attendees heard from three distinguished human rights activists:  Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the former President of Ireland; Sidney Verba, Professor Emeritus of Government and Director Emeritus of the Widener Library at Harvard and current Chair of the Committee on Human Rights at the National Academies; and Mercedes Doretti, co-founder of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (who was unable to attend, but had her remarks read by a colleague).  All speakers offered fascinating in depth accounts of the history and current state of scientific involvement in the human rights movement, and called upon the Coalition to offer up a unified front as efforts to achieve universal human rights move into an exciting and challenging new era.

Day two of the event featured a morning address by John Hopkins University and AAAS President-elect Peter Agre, as well as a series of sessions featuring presentations by various scientific organizations involved with human rights efforts.  Each of these sessions offered a look at the contributions that science and scientists can make to human rights while highlighting the scientific needs of human rights groups. 

Representatives facilitating the sessions included Clinton Anderson of the American Psychological Association, as well as Mark Frankel and Sage Russell of AAAS.  Each session included an overview of several different scientific groups and the work that they are currently doing in the field of human rights.  In the future, SPSSI may also be afforded the opportunity to similarly share the fruits of our members’ labor with the Coalition.

The latter half of day two and most of day three focused primarily on the goals of each of the Coalition’s newly formed working groups charged with various human rights projects and efforts.  Moving forward, SPSSI will watch these working groups closely in an effort to identify appropriate opportunities for our members and to gauge the overall usefulness of our involvement with this new initiative.  The Launch's activities concluded with closing remarks from Coalition founder Mona Younis of AAAS. 

As we are currently working to identify the most appropriate level of SPSSI's organizational involvement with the Coalition, please stay tuned to future Policy Feed updates for more information on how you may be able to get involved directly.  To visit the Coalition on the web, please click here.

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Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin