Also in this Issue
Coalition Launches Petition for Scientific Integrity
The Coalition to Protect Research (CPR) is launching an online petition this week to provide scientists and health professionals concerned about threats to the integrity of the peer review process with another way to show their support for the National Institutes of Health and for scientific principles. The petition will be shared with members of Congress and their staff over the next few months, and we encourage all SPIN readers to show your support for peer review by signing on and forwarding this information to your colleagues. CPR was founded and co-chaired by APA science policy staff in response to the 2003 congressional attacks on peer-reviewed research.
Science and PPO Touch Base with VA Psychologists
On March 10th, the Executive Committee of the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders (AVAPL) made its annual trip to Washington and APA. Committee members, who represent psychologists working within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system, spent time both on Capitol Hill and within the APA building. APA's Associate Director for Science, Merry Bullock, updated the committee on relevant programs and potential collaborations within the APA Science Directorate, especially those related to advanced training for psychological scientists and human participants in research. PPO's Heather Kelly talked with the group about the outlook for VA research funding and infrastructure in FY05, and solicited input for upcoming congressional testimony, Hill visits and advocacy initiatives related to the VA.
APA Urges Congress to do Better by NSF, NASA and the VA
On March 25th, Merry Bullock testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over funding for agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). APA's testimony highlighted concerns about the Administration budget request for psychological research within each of these agencies. Bullock stressed the need for continued, strong investment in human-centered research, even given the current climate of tight budgetary constraints on discretionary spending and a host of competing needs.
APA's CEO, Norman Anderson, will testify later this month before the House Appropriations Subcommittee that directs funds to the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Education, and the Health Resources and Services Administration. APA may also be given a public witness testimony slot in early May before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Testimony will focus on the need to increase FY05 support for psychological research within the Department of Defense above the Administration's request.
Homeland Security Advisory Council Meets at Secret Service Headquarters
On April 31, Science Policy Director Geoff Mumford attended the meeting of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) at Secret Service headquarters here in DC. Given the attention homeland security issues are getting, the public attendance was light and the small crowd of about two dozen people provided a sense of intimacy rarely found in a gathering led by a Cabinet Secretary. Secretary Ridge provided some brief opening remarks and then turned the meeting over to Deputy Secretary Loy, who proceeded to review programmatic activities. Loy said that the overall mission has been expanded from three to five tiers with respect to terrorist threats/incidents: 1) awareness, 2) prevention, 3) protection of critical infrastructure, 4) response in the immediate aftermath of an event, and 5) recovery. Within that list, admiral Loy highlighted the importance of heightened "awareness" as a means to produce better prevention protocols.
Dr. Ruth David gave an overview of the Lexicon Project, which acknowledges that the proliferation of acronyms and terminology means different things to different elements within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and to the general public. RDD, for example, means "radiologic dispersion device" in one community and " remote detonation device" in another. The Lexicon Project seeks to ensure that all of the elements within DHS start using a common, transparent language.
Secretary Ridge then asked for updates from the HSAC Senior Advisory Committees. Massachusetts Governor Romney reported in by conference call on behalf of state and local responders, whose chief concerns revolve around the logjam in the flow of funds from states through county governments to cities and towns. The bind appears to be that states are required to spend and distribute funds in a fixed window of time, after which point the funds can languish at the county level, which is not similarly constrained by such a "time fuse".
Kathleen Bader reported for the Private Sector Advisory Committee, calling for greater public-private partnerships in homeland security, an effort likely influenced by events overseas. The Madrid train bombing on March 11 and subsequent election results have raised concerns about pre-election terrorist events here in the U.S. Secretary Ridge has called for the formation of a Task Force to bolster security around a number of planned events between now and November 1 (see below for a link to the Washington Post story).
Jared Cohon reported for the Academe and Policy Research Committee. Dr. Cohon described the chilling effect U.S. Visa policy is having on the graduate student population - a key workforce in the academic research enterprise. Foreign graduate students are becoming more and more concerned about uncertainties they face on exit and re-entry to the U.S., and such issues may be decreasing foreign participation in U.S. graduate programs.
Dr. Cohon noted that the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee (HSSTAC) met on the same day (2/26/04) as his committee and discussed the importance of coordinating their respective activities. He was pleased that despite the schedule conflict, S&T Director Dr. Chuck McQueary still found time to brief Cohon's committee (see below link for HSSTAC minutes).
He lauded the Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate for taking a systems approach to homeland security. As an example, Dr. Cohon cited the need to not only produce sensitive and reliable biosensors but also understand how they would function within a system relying on humans to monitor and resolve alarms. He noted the importance of organizational and management issues in the successful integration of the small S&T Directorate within the enormity of DHS. A broader concern he raised related to the wellspring of individuals and institutions claiming expertise on homeland security and offering various certifications without any controls over accreditation of such programs. This led to a presentation by the U.S. Coast Guard, now part of DHS, which is seeking to develop a homeland security training and certification program to build leadership for DHS. An overview of that effort was presented by Commander Joseph E. Vorbach III, PhD, Associate Professor of International Relations in the Humanities Department at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
In subsequent correspondence, Commander Vorbach enthusiastically welcomed APA participation in the planning of a fall conference and subsequent curriculum development.