Also in this Issue
House Passes Labor-HHS Spending bill -- No Senate Action Yet
On July 10, the House of Representatives passed legislation to fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education for the 2004 fiscal year (which begins October 1, 2003). The narrow vote on the bill's final passage (215-208) reflected the fact that not a single Democratic House member voted in favor. Despite the excitement generated by the Toomey amendment, funding for NIH was not the real controversy-- funding for education programs was. Democrats argued that the bill underfunded federal programs for education by as much as $8 billion.
The House bill contained $27.66 billion for NIH, an increase of approximately 2 percent. The House appropriations committee leadership pointed out that the increase for NIH research would actually come closer to 7 percent because of various accounting maneuvers.
The Senate bill was expected to come to the floor shortly on the heels of the House bill, but now it appears the bill may not be debated until after the August recess. The Senate bill provides a larger increase for NIH, $27.98 billion total.
APA Comments on Homeland Security Bill
While finalizing the details of our Science of Deception Workshop, science policy staff became aware of a Senate bill entitled the "Homeland Security Federal Workforce Act" (S.589). Among other things, the bill seeks to strengthen and improve the management of national security, encourage government service in areas of critical national security, and assist government agencies in addressing deficiencies in personnel possessing specialized skills important to national security. The bill also seeks to incorporate the goals and strategies for recruitment and retention for such skilled personnel into the strategic and performance management systems of Federal agencies. Although the bill provides for the award of science fellowships through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), it explicitly excludes "social science" from the definition of science in determining which fields of study qualify for the award.
On July 10th, APA joined the Consortium of Social Science Associations in endorsing letters of inquiry to the bill's sponsor, Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and other co-sponsors. We have not yet received any response, but will follow the issue closely as the bill moves closer to a vote on the Senate floor.
Coincidentally, the first round of Undergraduate Scholarships and Graduate Fellowships awarded through the Science and Technology Directorate of DHS will be announced at the end of this month. It remains to be seen how well the social sciences will fair in that competition, but we will report back in a future issue of SPIN.
In a related development, DHS announced the first solicitation for "university-based homeland-security centers," focusing on risk-based modeling to better understand the impact and consequences of terrorism.
APA and COSSA Co-Sponsor Congressional Briefing on Educational Performance Gaps
On July 17th, APA co-sponsored a congressional briefing for Hill staffers with the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) entitled, "Enhancing Educational Performance: Social, Motivational and Cultural Factors." Two of the three speakers were APA members - Rebecca Marcon from the University of North Florida and Patricia O'Reilly from the University of Cincinnati. Their presentations highlighted research findings and provided policy or programmatic recommendations for improving student academic performance. Marcon discussed differential factors affecting young children's educational achievement in Washington, D.C. schools, and O'Reilly gave a broad-based talk on the particular needs of young adolescent girls in the educational system. The final speaker, Harvard economist Ronald Ferguson, presented data from his Tripod Project, which focuses on understanding and addressing racial disparities in educational motivation and achievement.
More than 60 people attended the briefing in the House Science Committee hearing room, including staffers from the offices of Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), John Kerry (D-MA), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), and Ted Stevens (R-AK); Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Rick Boucher (D-VA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Diane Watson (D-CA), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA); Delegate Donna Christensen (D-VI); federal agencies including the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation; and outside groups including the National Education Association.
APA Works with CIA and RAND to Hold Science of Deception Workshop
On July 17-18, RAND Corp. and the APA hosted a workshop entitled the "Science of Deception: Integration of Practice and Theory" with generous funding from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The workshop provided an opportunity to bring together individuals with a need to understand and use deception in the service of national defense/security with those who investigate the phenomena and mechanisms of deception. Meeting at RAND headquarters in Arlington, VA, the workshop drew together approximately 40 individuals including research psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists who study various aspects of deception and representatives from the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense with interests in intelligence operations. In addition, representatives from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security were present. Following brief introductions and welcoming remarks from Kevin O'Connell, Director of the Intelligence Policy Center within RAND's National Security Research Division, workshop participants divided into break-out groups to discuss thematic scenarios following a format used in a previous conference on counterterrorism held at the FBI Academy in February 2002.
The scenarios dealt broadly with issues such as embassy walk-in informants, threat assessment, intelligence gathering, and law enforcement interrogation and debriefing. Participants were prompted in advance to think about research issues and practical considerations they wanted the broader group to consider. Across the two days, there were a number of thought-provoking discussions suggesting the need to develop both short-term and long-term research programs on deception. Workshop participants will review transcripts from the meeting toward the goal of developing a more detailed summary suitable for public consumption.
My profound thanks to both Scott Gerwehr, Associate Policy Analyst at RAND, and Susan Brandon, Program Officer for Affect and Biobehavioral Regulation at NIMH, who jointly conceived of this project while Susan was still Senior Scientist here at APA. Special thanks to Kirk Hubbard, Chief of the Research & Analysis Branch, Operational Assessment Division of the CIA, for generous financial support and for recruiting the operational expertise and to RAND for providing conference facilities and other logistical support.
APA Pays Visit to NICHD Director Duane Alexander
On July 24th, APA CEO Norman Anderson, Science Directorate Associate Director Merry Bullock, and PPO staff Karen Studwell met with Duane Alexander, MD, Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to discuss the behavioral research portfolio at NICHD and some NIH issues that have recently been of concern to APA. Dr. Alexander first thanked APA and its members for their advocacy efforts to defeat the amendment offered in the House of Representatives that would have removed funding from several NICHD grants involving sexual and demographic research. He indicated that NIH is working on follow up materials to further educate members of Congress about the importance of sexual health research and that NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, MD, has been very supportive of the research as well.
Other items of discussion included the need for greater representation of behavioral science in the NIH Roadmap, which has been previously reported in the April 2003 edition of SPIN. Dr. Alexander, who co-chaired the Roadmap working group on the clinical research workforce, indicated that behavioral research training was included into their initiatives. He noted that one new emphasis will be on training broad multidisciplinary research teams. He also said that the working group is working on addressing ways to standardize and streamline federal regulations governing research so that all research comes under a single policy. This will include standardization of required paperwork and example-based guidance to the regulations.
Dr. Alexander encouraged psychological researchers to take advantage of the current friendly climate for research on prevention; in particular, childhood obesity. As physical activity and eating behaviors are directly linked to the rise in obesity, it represents an opportunity for behavioral approaches in multidisciplinary efforts contribute to new knowledge and interventions, targeted directly to children.
New NIH Directors to Present at Convention
For those of you headed to Toronto for the convention, there will be a joint session featuring Thomas Insel, MD, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Nora Volkow, PhD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and T.K. Li, MD, Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The session is scheduled on Friday, August 8th at 10:00 a.m. and being chaired by APA CEO Norman Anderson.