In This Issue

Advocacy Update

A recap of recent advocacy events and a review of the the upcoming Government Relations Office advocacy training at the annual APA convention

By Kelly Dunn, PhD

The location of this year’s annual APA convention provides a unique opportunity for APA members to learn more about the advocacy efforts put forth by the organization. The APA Education and Public Interest Government Relations Office has organized a PsycAdvocates™ Training Day, to be held on August 4. According to their brochure, participants will complete a day-long training that “will include an overview of the federal legislative process, strategies for effectively informing and influencing policymakers, and a briefing on current legislative issues on APA’s advocacy agenda. The day will culminate with early afternoon visits to Capitol Hill to meet with Members of Congress or their staff to advocate on pressing issues facing the psychology community.”

Advocacy events like this are considered especially important in this era of reduced grant funding. As outlined in the Science Policy Insider News (SPIN) monthly newsletter, the APA Science Government Relations Office (GRO) has been working hard to protect funding for scientific research. On May 26th, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) released a report that outlined research funded by the National Science Foundation he believed to be “trivial,” and called for an elimination of NSF’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Services (SBE).

On June 2, the House committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Research and Science Education held an oversight hearing on the NSF’s SBE portfolio, which was characterized by Subcommittee Chairman Mo Brooks (R-AL) to be a “soft science” that was distinguishable from physical and life sciences. The chairman acknowledged the value in the social, behavioral and economic sciences, but stated “…the goal of our hearing is to look at the need for federal investments in these disciplines, how we determine what those needs are in the context of national priorities, and how we prioritize funding for those needs, not only within the social science disciplines, but also within all science disciplines, particularly when federal research dollars are scarce.” Four witnesses that were invited to testify at this hearing presented conflicting views on the value of the SBE portfolio. This issue has not yet been resolved, however the Science GRO is working hard to protect funding. View the full copy of this hearing.

A more thorough description of these events is available in the APA SPIN newsletter.

In light of changes in Congressional members and recent attention on budget cuts, the APA Science GRO has begun blogging about the federal budget. This blog is a great resource for scientists to stay informed about how ongoing budget deliberations might affect scientific funding.

Although APA and the Science GRO work hard to protect scientific funding, it is imperative that we, as scientists, contribute to this cause by advocating for scientific funding as well. One way to do this is by signing up for the Public Policy Advocacy Network. This will enable you to receive alerts and instructions for ways to lobby your local congressmen and women to protect scientific funding.

To stay informed of the actions of the Science GRO, visit their website. To learn more about the history of the Science GRO advocacy efforts, please review their advocacy archive.

For monthly updates on the Science Government Relations Office, subscribe to the Science Policy Insider News (SPIN) newsletter.