Also in this Issue

OSTP AD Briefs National Research Council Human Factors Committee; House and Senate Make Progress on NIH Appropriations; Congress Acts to Restrict NIMH Research grants; Psychologists Faring Well Under NIAAA Loan Repayment Program; President Nominates Arden Bement to be Director of NSF; Setting a Research Agenda on Electronic Voting Technology; Senate Appropriations Committee Proposes FY05 Research Numbers for NSF and VA; Institute of Education Sciences Funding;APA to Cosponsor DHS Strategic Studies Conference

OSTP AD Briefs National Research Council Human Factors Committee

When the Human Factors Committee of the National Research Council decided to re-examine homeland security issues at the their August meeting, the Chair wanted to get an update on federal government activities with an eye to what was underway in the social and behavioral sciences. Science Policy staff suggested that Dr. Susan Brandon, OSTP's Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral and Educational sciences would fit that role nicely. Susan wears several hats as the OSTP liaison to the National Science and Technology Council Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences Subcommittee that reports to the Committee on Science and the Committee on Homeland and National Security (the latter being most relevant to the role of these sciences to homeland security); the NSTC Education and Workforce Subcommittee that reports to the Committee on Science (concerned mostly with Federal workforce needs and training); and the Interagency Working Group on Critical Workforce Needs, part of the Subcommittee on National Security Research and Development (that seeks to "identify critical workforce issues impacting the availability of technical staff required to meet the needs of national security programs"). Susan provided an overview of some of the inventory work she has being doing on behalf of these various groups in her powerpoint presentation to the Committee on August 30th.


House and Senate Make Progress on NIH Appropriations

On September 9th, the House of Representatives passed its version of the Fiscal Year 2005 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill (HR 5006). The legislation provides a 2.6% increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), raising its budget to $28.5 billion. The following week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the Labor-HHS bill (S2810), but it is unlikely to reach the Senate floor before the November elections.

The Senate and House versions differ on a number of levels; significantly, the NIH would receive $380 million more under the Senate bill than the President's budget request and the House bill, for a total FY05 budget of $28.9 billion.

Fiscal Year 2005 begins on October 1, so Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution in the next few weeks to fund the government until the FY05 appropriations process is finished.


Congress Acts to Restrict NIMH Research grants

Last year, the House of Representatives nearly passed an amendment that would have defunded five specific grants funded by NIH that focused on sexual development and behaviors. On September 9th, Rep. Robert "Randy" Neugebauer (R-TX) offered a similar, though mostly symbolic, amendment targeting two grants funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). APA staff sent alerts to congressional offices as well as action alerts to APA members urging them to contact their members of Congress to oppose this amendment. The amendment passed on a voice vote, which means no recorded votes were taken, and only those few members on the floor were voting on the amendment. While the amendment passed, it is unlikely to remain in the final FY 05 LHHS appropriations bill once it has been reconciled with the Senate version in conference.


Psychologists Faring Well Under NIAAA Loan Repayment Program

On September 9th, during the NIAAA Advisory Council meeting, Ken Warren provided a status report on NIAAA's participation in the NIH Loan Repayment Program, which is designed to encourage individuals to pursue careers in five selected areas of research. NIAAA participates in two of the five programs (Clinical and Pediatric), and when Science Policy staff requested follow-up data to assess the disciplinary training of the successful applicants, we found that psychologists are faring extremely well. Of the 18 awards administered in 2002, 14 were awarded to psychologists; of 42 awards administered in 2003, 29 were awarded to psychologists; and of the 39 administered in 2004, 25 were awarded to psychologists. Because NIAAA's research portfolios focus in large part on both prevention and treatment, it's likely that psychologists will continue to find active support in pursuing this niche of substance abuse research.


President Nominates Arden Bement to be Director of NSF

On September 15th, President Bush nominated the current Acting Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Arden L. Bement, Jr., PhD as his choice for the full time job. Pending congressional approval, Dr. Bement will remain Acting Director at NSF and will pursue "research and education at the frontiers of science and engineering, …broadening participation both within and without the Foundation, and …resources to carry out this vision" as top priorities. Bement trained as a metallurgical engineer and has had a long career in industry, government and academia, and came to NSF in an acting capacity while still Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Chairman of the House Science Committee (which has oversight responsibility for NSF) said this in a press statement the same day: "Arden knows the agency well and brings a wealth of experience in industry, government and academia to the job. His calm, soft-spoken, steady, open-minded and firm leadership has already left its mark on NSF. With a permanent appointment, he will be able to be an even more forceful, effective and inventive director. It would be hard to think of a better person for the job." Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), Democratic Ranking Member on the House Science Committee, seconded this confidence in Dr. Bement but expressed disappointment that President Bush had not named a new Director at NIST, which faces severe budgetary crises.


Setting a Research Agenda on Electronic Voting Technology

On September 17-18, Science Policy Director Geoff Mumford attended an invitation-only workshop on Electronic Voting Technology hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The workshop drew together a range of expertise across psychology, political science, election administration, computer science, and public policy to take a holistic view of the election process and help propose a research agenda that would inform issues around electronic voting. Background and summary materials are available on the AAAS website.

Much of the momentum around election reform appeared to stall after 9/11, and mulling over the issues raised during the workshop, it was hard to believe it had been more than three years since APA, the Consortium of Social Science Associations, and the American Political Science Association collaborated to bring the existing research to the attention of policy makers on the Hill in an event to support the Decade of Behavior "democracy" theme, a congressional briefing entitled "The Mechanics of Election Reform: From Registration to Results". Soon thereafter, Dr. David Woods was selected to testify before the House Committee on Administration.

Although we are all hopeful that the 2004 election will proceed smoothly, it is likely there will be hiccups along the way. While precious little funding has been dedicated to research on election reforms thus far, perhaps this AAAS effort will serve to stimulate some renewed interest in taking a scientific approach to improving elections the next time around.

 

Senate Appropriations Committee Proposes FY05 Research Numbers for NSF and VA

On September 21st, the Senate Appropriations Committee "marked up" its bill funding the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and a number of other federal agencies for Fiscal Year 2005. The Senate proposed $5.74 billion for NSF overall, matching the President's budget request. This represents only a 3% increase over current funding, but compares well with the 2% cut to NSF proposed by the House. The Department of Veterans Affairs' research budget, which has seen almost no growth over the past few years, would get a total of $405.6 million from the Senate in Fiscal Year 2005 - dead even with current funding. Both the President and the House have proposed a $20 million cut to the VA research program in 2005. APA and the rest of the science advocacy community will urge Congress to invest well in research at these agencies as the Senate and House work out their differences. It is unlikely that agreement on and final passage of the bill will occur prior to the November election. More probable is that either all of the remaining appropriations bills would be rolled into one large omnibus funding bill for consideration during a lame duck session, or that a continuing resolution bill would be passed - essentially keeping the government running at current levels into early next year.

 

Institute of Education Sciences Funding

While the budget increases for NIH may seem disappointing, there is more disappointing new for other science and health programs. Under both the House and Senate bills, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) would receive $165.5 million for education research, development and dissemination, providing no increase over FY04 levels. APA has worked with other scientific organizations to support a $20 million increase for IES research to $185 million, as well as advocating for sufficient support for the national education research centers. In September, APA joined with other organizations to send a letter to the Senate on behalf of education research.

 

APA to Cosponsor DHS Strategic Studies Conference

Concerned that entrepreneurs without appropriate training are starting to offer a range of Homeland Security certification courses (googling "homeland security certification" currently yields 243,000 hits), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decided to get in front of that wave to develop some educational standards of its own. Hearing of this nascent effort at the Homeland Security Advisory Council meeting in April, Science Policy staff asked to be involved in planning the conference to ensure that psychological science content was appropriately represented. The conference, "Charting a Course for Homeland Security Strategic Studies", will be held November 16-18 at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Headquarters in New London, CT. Perhaps as a nod to the increasing emphases DHS is placing on behavioral and social sciences, APA is the only professional scientific organization cosponsoring the conference. Several APA members are helping to plan the conference, including Dr. Susan Brandon, OSTP Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral and Educational Sciences, Dr. Roxane Cohen Silver, who serves on the Academe and Policy Research Senior Advisory Committee for DHS, and Dr. Janice Laurence, former President of Division 19 - Military Psychology.