Also in this Issue

Psychologists Take Science of Counter-Terrorism to the Hill; Congressional Hearings on Terrorism; Advocating for Research within the Department of Veterans Affairs; APA Supports Increased Federal Funding for NICHD

Psychologists Take Science of Counter-Terrorism to the Hill

On March 1, Geoff Mumford, Heather Kelly and Susan Brandon, APA’s Senior Scientist accompanied eight psychological scientists to meetings with senior legislative staff of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the House Committee on Science. The purpose of the meetings was to raise awareness of how psychological research might be used to understand, prepare for and counter terrorism.

The group, which included Jonathan Drummond, Princeton University; Victoria M. Esses, University of Western Ontario; Baruch Fischhoff, Carnegie Mellon University; Deborah Frisch, National Science Foundation; Arie Kruglanski, University of Maryland; Donald Norman, Northwestern University; Eldar Shafir, Princeton University; and Peter Suedfeld, University of British Columbia, was well-received on both sides of the Capitol. Senate staff invited the group to provide comments on a bill Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is drafting, who chairs the Science, Technology and Space Subcommittee, to mobilize science and technology expertise in responding to terrorist attacks or natural disasters. House staff described the new joint effort between the State Department and the Department of Defense in the creation of a Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) to begin addressing and vetting proposed technological improvements to national security. Committee staff also discussed the possibility of restructuring the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) into a "Super-FEMA" that would have a much broader focus ranging from prevention through response and mitigation.

Congressional Hearings on Terrorism

In the aftermath of the attacks on America last fall, many congressional committees and subcommittees have held hearings to investigate various issues related to terrorism. Tracking the activities of those committees and subcommittees has been a daunting task. Thankfully, LaTonya Wesley has compiled an comprehensive website covering House and Senate hearings on a full range of topics related to the aftermath of 9/11 and the effects of anthrax mailed to Congress and others in October. Where available, LaTonya has provided hyperlinks to testimony and other background materials for each hearing and she will continue updating the site as warranted with future hearings.

Advocating for Research within the Department of Veterans Affairs

In addition to advocating for behavioral science at research powerhouses like NIH and NSF, Science PPO hits Capitol Hill each spring to represent the needs of research psychologists working within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system. Last month, Kurt Salzinger, APA’s Executive Director for Science, and Science PPO Staffer Heather Kelly met with the Executive Committee of the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders (AVAPL) to draft briefing sheets for members of Congress on the needs of VA psychological scientists (these are in progress - feel free to email Heather directly with any suggestions). See our website for the most recent VA research coalition statement, to which APA has signed on, recommending increases in the VA research budget for Fiscal Year 03.

APA Supports Increased Federal Funding for NICHD

As the largest source of funds for behavioral and psychological science research, APA is once again focused on the fiscal year 2003 appropriations forecast for the National Institutes Health. This year, the Friends of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), a coalition co-chaired by Science PPO Staffer Karen Studwell, has been focused on achieving a more equitable distribution of the proposed $3.7 billion increase for NIH. The Friends Coalition brings together a diverse group of professional and patient organizations to increase the profile and funding for NICHD and its important research portfolio. In February, the Friends Coalition held meetings with both NICHD Director Duane Alexander and key House appropriations committee staff to discuss the importance of NICHD research and request greater support for the institute.

As you may know, while fiscal year 2003 is the last year of the bipartisan congressional effort to double the NIH budget to $27.3 billion. Still, many institutes will be forced to cutback on planned projects, as a disproportionate share of the $3.7 billion increase, approximately $1.5 billion, proposed by President Bush, is restricted to bioterrorism research. Those funds are slated for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which will see a 57% increase. Other institutes are to receive only 8.5% increases based on the President’s budget, rather than the possible 15% many were counting on. Congress may not agree with this plan submitted by the President, and is unlikely to support many of the proposed cuts in the budget, especially in an election year.