Advocacy update

Updates on APA Advocacy for Research Funding and Contributions to FDA, and Congressional Cuts to Fiscal Year 2013 Budgets

APA's role on Capitol Hill and how fiscal cuts may affect your research.

By V. Vatsalya
  1. American Psychological Association (APA) lobbied Capitol Hill for defense research, mental health, and sexual assault programs. APA's Science Government Relations Office (Science GRO) actively lobbied for and tracked a number of issues within two fiscal year 2014 Department of Defense (DoD) authorization and appropriations bills. The bills addressed research funding levels, mental health services, and suicide prevention programs, as well as the impact of federal travel restrictions and possible policy changes regarding sexual assault in the military. In terms of support for research, Science GRO staff and APA's defense research coalition colleagues estimated that the president's FY 2014 budget request would result in a slight decrease to the overall DoD Science and Technology account.
  2. Psychological scientists address congressional briefing on STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] education. On May 23, APA helped to sponsor a briefing on Capitol Hill titled "From the Lab to the Classroom: Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Research to Improve our Nation's Math and Science Achievement", to highlight the findings of three scientists funded by the Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. APA's Executive Director for Science, Steven Breckler, moderated the briefing and emphasized the need for not only more research on STEM education, but also that as part of the "S" in STEM, psychological science was uniquely positioned to improving learning outcomes across STEM disciplines.
  3. APA and other healthcare organizations commented on smokeless tobacco warning labels. APA partnered with the "Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids" and several other scientific and public health advocacy groups in early April 2013 to file comments on smokeless tobacco warning labels with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Four warning labels had been mandated by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act and the FDA asked for input and supporting evidence regarding how any changes in the warning labels would affect both users' and nonusers' understanding of the risks associated with the use of smokeless tobacco products.
  4. Congress approved fiscal year 2013 funding, though cuts were made to science funding. Congress finally approved H.R. 933 FY [fiscal year] 2013 Appropriations in late March this year, after a series of temporary resolutions. Although it means that scientific funding agencies can finally make decisions about how to manage their programs between now and September 30, 2013, the bill cuts almost $10 billion from research and development. This results in a $506.6 million reduction in research and development funding from FY 2012 levels, according to estimates by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Since the bill also leaves sequestration in place, federal research and development funds may be reduced by $9.6 billion below last year's levels, representing a 6.9 percent decline. APA Science GRO has been writing blogs for some time now about the federal budget and most recent activities about the ongoing budget deliberations.
Other Headlines:
  • New campaign to help parents talk to younger children about the dangers of underage drinking. "Talk. They Hear You." is a new national public service announcement (PSA) campaign that was launched on May 13, 2013 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to empower parents to talk to children as young as nine years old about the dangers of underage drinking. The kickoff occurred in conjunction with SAMHSA's 2013 National Prevention Week—an annual health observance dedicated to increasing awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues.
  • NSF seeks proposals for research in neuroscience and cognitive science. The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a letter on March 4 aimed at "accelerating integrative research in neuroscience and cognitive science," or AIR-NCS. In keeping with President Obama's neuroscience initiative, within which APA's Science Government Relations Office has been actively involved, NSF is seeking proposals that have the potential to transform these areas of research "across disciplines and across spatial and temporal scales of analysis" in four broad thematic areas: adaptation to changing environments; mechanisms underlying dynamic decisions and communication within and across scales; neural representations and coding; and technologies for discovering, analyzing and modeling brain function, neural coding and circuits.

Editor's note: This will be Dr. Vatsalya's final Advocacy Update column. We thank him for his numerous contributions over the past few years and for his continued effort in keeping us updated about the numerous advocacy events taking place on behalf of our science.