Publication Date

November 1, 1996

The Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) is an advocacy organization for the social and behavioral sciences. Its efforts are supported by nearly 100 associations, institutes, and universities, including the American Historical Association. Leaders of the AHA, a member of COSSA since 1981, serve on the consortium's board of directors and executive committee. What follows is an update on federal support for the social and behavioral sciences as of mid-September.

As this is article is being written, Congress is rushing to complete the fiscal 1997 appropriations process. It is unlikely that by the October 1 start of the new fiscal year all 13 spending bills needed to support federal agencies will be finalized. The bills must be approved by both the House and the Senate, their differences must be resolved in a conference committee, and they must be signed into law by the president. Members of Congress are eager to hit the campaign trail as soon as possible. For those bills left unfinished, Congress will adopt continuing resolutions or omnibus bills to fund affected programs through fiscal 1997 at levels within the parameters noted below.

National Science Foundation

For the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Senate appropriated $3.275 billion, a $55 million increase over fiscal 1996 funding, and $22 million above the House allocation. 2 For the NSF's Research and Related Activities account, the Senate gave $2.432 billion and the House $2.431 billion.3 The fiscal 1996 appropriation was $2.314 billion. For the Education and Human Resources Directorate, the Senate surpassed both the House appropriation of $612 million and the president's request of $619 million by allocating $624 million, a $25 million increase from last year.

The Senate rejected the House cut of $9 million in the Salaries and Expenses account, appropriating $134 million, the administration's request. The House reduction occurred during consideration of the bill by the full House. The bill that emerged from the House appropriations committee had the full allocation of $134 million. The argument in the House for reducing the size of the account was tied to the House Science Committee's authorization bill, which included a provision calling for the elimination of one NSF directorate. While the bill did not specify a particular one, a committee report accompanying the bill suggested that it be the Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Sciences Directorate. The Senate has not taken up the authorization bill.

On a related note, the NSF is losing several friends of the social and behavioral sciences. Deputy director Anne Petersen, a psychologist, is leaving to join the Kellogg Foundation as senior vice president for programs. Cora Marrett, assistant director for the SSE, is returning to her former sociology post at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In addition, Joyce Justus, the assistant director for the social and behavioral sciences at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, has left her post to return to the Office of the President in the University of California system. Permanent replacements for the three have not been announced.

Smithsonian and National Archives

Overall funding for the Smithsonian, currently $311.2 million, was set at $317.2 million by the House and at $317.6 million by the Senate. The administration request was $328.7 million. Both bills concur with the administration and hold funding for the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars flat at $5.8 million. For the National Archives and Records Administration, the Senate voted $198.9 million, $2 million above the administration's request and $3.9 million above the House allocation. Current funding is $199.6 million.

Graduate Education

In the area of graduate education, the House did not provide separate funding for the Javits fellowships, which support doctoral study in the humanities and social sciences. It did, however, provide $3.6 million to continue all existing awards. This support is now part of the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GANN) program. GANN was allocated $30 million, the amount requested by the president. The committee backed the Clinton administration's proposal to consolidate graduate support under GANN. The Senate has provided some funding for Javits to continue supporting graduate students in the social sciences and humanities.

Office of Educational Research and National Center for Education Statistics

The House voted $123.6 million for research through the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, an increase of $15.6 million over the president's request and $16.6 million over current funding. The accompanying House report expressed concern over the lack of data on the effectiveness of programs within the Department of Education and urged the development of greater evaluation techniques. The National Center for Education Statistics was voted $50 million by the House. This is $3.8 million above current funding and mirrors the administration's request. The Senate figure is unavailable.

International Education, Cultural Exchange, and Postsecondary Education

The House voted $53.5 million and the Senate $52.3 million for the domestic activities of the international education and foreign language studies programs of the Department of Education. That figure is slightly over both current funding and the Clinton request. The overseas programs, known as Fulbright-Hays programs, were provided $4.8 million by the House and $5.8 million by the Senate. The House bill provided $15 million for the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, the same as current funding and $3 million below the request. The Senate figure is unavailable. The House figure is current funding; the Senate figure the request.

For the educational and cultural exchange programs at the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), the Senate voted $183 million, a decrease of $16.7 million from current funding and $2 mil lion below the House figure. The Senate report echoed the House in urging the USIA to establish a mechanism for open competition for the administration of the Fulbright Program. The Senate eliminated funding for two USIA programs, the National Endowment for Democracy and Radio Free Asia, both of which were funded by the House.

U.S. Institute of Peace

The United States Institute of Peace, which provides education and training, basic and applied research, and other services in the areas of peace studies and conflict resolution, was allocated $11.2 million by both the House and Senate, the same as the budget request and slightly below current funding.

For the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Senate provided $31.6 million, an increase of $1.6 million over both the House figure and current funding. The NIJ will receive $20 million in additional funding from the Local Law Enforcement Block Grants Program for research and design of new technologies. In recent years Congress has paid considerable attention to the law enforcement technologies component of the NIJ but has shown far less interest in the institute’s efforts to better understand the causes and prevention of crime through social and behavioral science research.

For more information, contact Howard J. Silver, Executive Director, Consortium of Social Science Associations, 1522 K St., NW, Ste. 836, Washington, DC 20005 (202) 842-3525. Fax (202) 842-2788. E-mail:


1. For information about the fiscal 1997 budget of the National Endowment for the Humanities, see NCC Advocacy Update on page 28 of this issue of Perspectives.

2. The final appropriation for the NSF, which was determined after this article was completed, was $3.270 billion.

3. The final appropriation for the NSF’s Research and Related Activities Account was $2.432 billion.

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