DC Digest – January 24, 2013

In Today’s Issue:

  • Spotlight on Duke in Washington: Inaugural Ball, 113th Congress Reception, Classes, and More
  • AAU Endorses House Bill on Gun Violence Prevention Research
  • President Obama Directs Agencies to Study Causes of Gun Violence
  • ACE Updates List of Higher Ed Tax Provisions
  • What Student Aid Research Shows
  • NIH Report Advises End to Most Chimp Studies Supported by the Agency



SPOTLIGHT ON DUKE IN WASHINGTON: INAUGURAL BALL, 113TH CONGRESS RECEPTION, CLASSES, AND MORE
Duke University’s new Washington, D.C., office is already proving to be useful for Blue Devils doing research and learning in the nation’s capital. This week, it even was valuable as a place to prepare for an inauguration.

Read More:
A New Administration, a New Congress, and a New Duke in Washington Office (Today.Duke.edu)

OMB DIRECTS AGENCIES TO PREPARE FOR SEQUESTER, EXPIRING FY13 CR 
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has directed federal agencies to continue planning for possible major budget reductions in FY13 in case Congress fails to call off the across-the-board spending cuts, known as the sequester, now scheduled to go into effect on March 1, or to extend the current FY13 continuing resolution (CR) beyond its March 27 expiration date.

A memorandum sent to federal agency heads by Acting OMB Director Jeff Zients on January 14 noted that unless Congress acts, the sequestration order will require spending cuts in FY13 alone of $85 billion. The memorandum did not address what agencies should do if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.

Among other guiding principles, the memorandum directed agencies to: “…review grants and contracts to determine where cost savings may be achieved in a manner that is consistent with the applicable terms and conditions, remaining mindful of the manner in which individual contracts or grants advance the core mission of the agency…”

Read More:
OMB Memorandum (whitehouse.gov)

AAU ENDORSES HOUSE BILL ON GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION RESEARCH 
AAU has endorsed legislation introduced on January 16 by Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and 31 other House Democrats that would eliminate a statutory restriction on research by scientific research agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which their press release says “has prohibited these agencies from conducting high-quality, peer-reviewed research on gun violence prevention.” The Firearm Safety and Public Health Research Act is intended to expand and codify the presidential memorandum issued on January 16 by the President as part of his broader package addressing gun violence (see next item).

Read More:
Reps. Maloney and Markey to Introduce Bill to End Ban on Federal Gun Violence Research(Maloney.house.gov)
AAU Letter Supporting Removal of Restrictions on federal funding for firearms research (pdf)

PRESIDENT OBAMA DIRECTS AGENCIES TO STUDY CAUSES OF GUN VIOLENCE
As part of a larger set of proposals aimed at reducing gun violence, President Obama on January 16 issued a presidential memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), through CDC and other scientific agencies within the Department, to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence. The affected agencies include NIH. The presidential memorandum says, in part: “The Secretary shall begin by identifying the most pressing research questions with the greatest potential public health impact, and by assessing existing public health interventions being implemented across the Nation to prevent gun violence.”

A White House fact sheet released earlier in the day provides additional information (page five):
“…END THE FREEZE ON GUN VIOLENCE RESEARCH, INVESTIGATE THE CAUSES AND PREVENTION OF VIOLENCE, AND EXPLORE THE IMPACT OF VIOLENT MEDIA IMAGES AND VIDEO GAMES: For years, Congress has subjected the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to restrictions ensuring it does not “advocate or promote gun control,” and some members of Congress have claimed this restriction prohibits the CDC from conducting any research on the causes of gun violence. However, public health research on gun violence is not advocacy. The President is directing the CDC and other research agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence and the CDC is announcing that they will begin this research. The Administration is calling on Congress to provide $10 million for the CDC to conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between video games, media images, and violence.”

Read More:
Presidential Memorandum – Engaging in Public Health Research on the Causes and Prevention of Gun Violence (whitehouse.gov)
White House Fact Sheet (WashingtonPost.com)

ACE UPDATES LIST OF HIGHER EDUCATION TAX PROVISIONS 
The American Council on Education (ACE) has updated its list of major federal higher education tax provisions to reflect the extensions—temporary and permanent—included in the fiscal cliff agreement (H.R. 8) enacted in early January.

Read More:
Expired and Expiring Higher Ed Tax Provisions (pdf)


WHAT STUDENT AID RESEARCH SHOWS

In a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Susan Dynarski of the University of Michigan and Judith Scott-Clayton of Columbia University’s Teachers College scan 50 years of financial aid practice and research to “review what is known and what is not known about how well various student aid programs work.” After explaining the difficulty of evaluating which policies are effective and which aren’t, they nonetheless offer four “major lessons that can be taken from the research on financial aid effectiveness.”

Read More:
What Student Aid Research Shows
 (Inside Higher Ed)
Paper Abstract
 (NBER.org)


NIH REPORT ADVISES END TO MOST CHIMP STUDIES SUPPORTED BY AGENCY

Sixteen research projects that use chimpanzees will face closure over the next few years if the National Institutes of Health accepts the recommendations of an internal working group’s report, released on Tuesday.

The 84-page report presented to the Council of Councils yesterday contains 28 recommendations in three general categories: ethnologically appropriate physical and social environments; research colony size and placement; and a review process for future proposals to use chimpanzees in NIH-supported research.  Collectively, the recommendations called for a major reduction in the number of studies involving chimpanzees, including shutting down nearly half of the 30 projects currently funded by NIH and downsizing the number of chimpanzees NIH owns or supports to a single colony of about 50 chimps.  The WG suggested that future projects involving chimpanzees might be better conducted in nontraditional research settings, such as zoos or animal sanctuaries.  The report also recommended very specific requirements for housing chimpanzees, as well as training of personnel working with chimpanzees in research settings.

NIH is accepting comments on the report and its recommendations until March 23rd.

Read More:
NIH Report Advises End to Most Chimp Studies Supported by Agency (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
NIH Report (dpcpsi.nih.gov)