Also in this Issue

PPO and Science Staff Present at Div. 19/Div.21 Joint Meeting; National Children's Study Advisory Committee Holds Spring Meeting; Friends of NICHD Meet with Duane Alexander

PPO and Science Staff Present at Div. 19/Div.21 Joint Meeting

PPO's Heather Kelly and Science's Dianne Maranto led a policy discussion with psychological researchers and students at the March 6-7 Annual Mid-Year Symposium hosted by APA Divisions 19 (Military Psychology) and 21 (Applied Experimental and Engineering Psychology) and the Potomac Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Held at Fort Belvoir, the joint meeting was arranged around the theme of "Measuring and Maintaining Performance in Complex Environments." The session included presentations and posters on topics ranging from cognitive readiness under combat conditions to human factors analyses of military and civilian airline accidents. Kelly and Maranto updated participants on APA's involvement in federal appropriations for science agencies, homeland security science and technology issues, and new opportunities in workplace research.


National Children's Study Advisory Committee Holds Spring Meeting

The Advisory Committee of the National Children's Study, being managed by NICHD, held its spring meeting the first week of March. As we have mentioned in previous SPIN's, Congress authorized this longitudinal study, which will follow 100,000 children from pre-natal to early adulthood, as part of the Children's Health Act of 2000. Since then, NICHD has led the coordinating efforts of several NIH institutes and other federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Background information on the study and working group member information is available on the National Children's Studies website.

APA has advocated for the inclusion of behavioral and social science representatives on the Advisory Committee and is pleased that developmental psychologist Deborah Phillips, PhD, was asked to serve on the Committee.

Much of the discussion focused on coordinating the work of the Advisory Committee with the 22 Working Groups of the study and the Interagency Coordinating Committee (ICC). The ICC consists of federal staff from the three main agencies involved in the study (NIH, EPA, and CDC). Some concerns were raised that the ICC has not approved hypotheses proposed by some working groups or the Advisory Committee, which may affect future efforts of those working groups. The lack of dedicated staff at NICHD was also a concern, as there are only 1.5 staff dedicated to the NCS. Additional staff will hopefully be hired, but there was some concern that decisions related to study design were not being made by staff, but by a rotating group of volunteers on the working groups. It was decided that at the upcoming June meeting of the Advisory Committee, there would be a session held to explain the roles and responsibilities of each entity.


Friends of NICHD Meet with Duane Alexander

On March 14th, the Friends of NICHD, which is co-chaired by APA's Karen Studwell, met with NICHD Director Duane Alexander to discuss the budget outlook for the institute and other issues that are of concern to the coalition. The Friends Coalition is quite concerned that NICHD will not have adequate resources to carry out its mission based on the President's FY 2004 budget request, which would result in an approximate 4% increase for NICHD. The FY03 final budget for NICHD was $1.194 billion after taking into account the money that is transferred from NICHD to other agencies in what are known as "taps." The President's FY04 request is $1.245 billion. The Friends' request is for a 10% increase for FY04 over FY03, or $1.315 billion, which is also in line with the 10% increase supported for NIH overall, which would bring total FY04 funding to $30 billion.

One new initiative that is underway is a work/life balance initiative in which APA President Elect Diane Halpern, PhD, has been involved. The initiative will look at issues around the balance of work, family, health and well-being. NICHD will hold a conference in June to discuss the state of the science in this area. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to conduct pilot studies that employ experimental design methodologies to test which types of workplace policies and practices are the most beneficial for workers, their families and children, communities, and workplaces.

Dr. Alexander also discussed some specific initiatives that could be done with greater funding, including expanding clinical trials of reading research and keeping the National Children's Study (NCS) planning phase on schedule. NCS is the congressionally mandated longitudinal study to examine the effects of the environment (including physical, social, emotional) on child development. The current proposed FY04 funding would only partially cover what is needed to continue the planning stages of NCS and the planned FY05 enrollment will be delayed if adequate funding were not provided.