Also in this Issue
VA Research Coalition Meets with VA Chief of Research
In late December, Science PPO's Heather Kelly and the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research coalition (FOVA) Executive Steering Committee met with Joel Kupersmith, MD, Chief Research and Development Officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). On the agenda were discussions of FOVA's efforts to influence the FY07 and FY08 VA research appropriations. The coalition has actively engaged policymakers on the Hill to gain additional funds for FY07 throughout the period of the continuing resolution (during which most government agencies have been flat-funded pending final appropriations negotiations). In the congressional joint resolution up for a vote in the House on January 30, the VA would receive an additional $3.6 billion for veterans' medical care in FY07. There is also language removing a $15 million earmark from the research account, a removal for which FOVA has advocated, and we are watching closely to see that the "freed-up" $15 million remains in the research account.
FOVA is gearing up for FY08 appropriations advocacy in advance of the President's budget roll-out on February 5. In addition to meeting with Dr. Kupersmith and his staff to get up to speed on recent advances and new program initiatives in VA research, the coalition is scheduling visits with Hill staff, working on written and oral congressional testimony, and developing educational briefings for Members of Congress and their staff to highlight the importance of VA-sponsored research. As a member of the steering committee, APA works in collaboration with the coalition, which consists predominantly of medical organizations and veterans groups, and we also work hard to convey the important roles played by VA psychological scientists in particular.
Tobacco Legislation on the Move
With the shift in power following the November election, the Science Policy Office has renewed hope for the enactment of valuable tobacco policy that in the past has enjoyed bipartisan support (and even passage in the Senate), but was consistently stalled in the Republican-controlled House.
The main legislation being pushed by the nation's public health community is a bill (rumored to be introduced soon) that would grant the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and sale of tobacco products to protect the public health. FDA oversight is especially needed to crack down on illegal sales of tobacco products to children and to restrict advertising and marketing that appeal to children. The tobacco industry is aggressively marketing a new generation of products with unproven claims that they are less harmful. This continued deception of consumers makes ever more urgent the need for FDA restrictions on advertising and marketing to children. Visit the Boston Globe website to read an editorial that highlights the FDA bill.
APA is a member of and works actively with the Partners for Effective Tobacco Policy (PARTNERS) Coalition, which is a group of over 60 national organizations committed to reducing and preventing death and disease by tobacco use. On January 29, PARTNERS faxed a letter to each member of Congress informing them of the FDA legislation and encouraging them to cosponsor the bill. The PARTNERS Coalition will soon send another letter to Congress outlining their various priorities for the 110th Congress, including tobacco use cessation, funding for the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, internet tobacco sales, tobacco smuggling, and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
APA will continue to work with PARTNERS to ensure that tobacco policy gains momentum and is a top priority for Democratic leadership.
DNI Using Psychology to Set New Analytic Standards
There is additional evidence that the intelligence community is openly embracing psychological science in an effort to influence intelligence reform activities. On January 9-10, the Office of Analytic Integrity and Standards (AIS) in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) sponsored a conference entitled "Improving Intelligence Analysis: What works? How can we tell? Lessons from outside the Intelligence Community". AIS was formed via the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which mandated that DNI seek best practices and utilize lessons learned from analytic work in the Intelligence Community. But Ambassador Negroponte's welcoming comments suggested this conference would be different. He said, "Over the next two days, experts from business and academia will introduce analytic approaches that are beginning to transform work practices in medicine, education, management and social policy. These are not simply fresh ideas, but innovative methods that scientific testing suggests will produce better, more accurate results." Nearly half of the conference presenters were psychologists and represented a diverse set of psychological science domains. It is expected that the conference will continue as a series through 2007, and it follows on the heels of other DNI fora in which psychological science has already played a dominant role.
SAMHSA Now Administered by a Psychologist
In early January, Science Policy staff attended the "first constituency meeting" with new SAMHSA Administrator Dr. Terry Cline. Coincidentally, Dr. Cline is a clinical psychologist by training, an APA member, and a former APA Health Policy Fellow.
He opened the session with a brief personal account—his official biographical statement and photo can be found on the SAMHSA website. Dr. Cline's goal is to impact systems addressing mental health and substance abuse problems in the community by enhancing prevention and service availability. He describes himself as very mission-oriented and dedicated to building collaborative relationships to achieve SAMHSA's goal of life in the community for everyone. He embraces SAMHSA's focus on resilience and recovery and his predecessor Dr. Curie's priority matrix as a conceptual model to guide the work of the agency. Dr. Cline's strategic plan for SAMHSA revolves around accountability and effectiveness, and he made clear that he does not have a predetermined list of priorities because he first wants to understand what needs to be done.
Dr. Cline noted that SAMHSA's support was very helpful in his efforts to translate evidence-based practice into services in his former roles as Oklahoma Secretary of Health and Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. At that time, he was also responsible for Medicaid and the state's tobacco settlement. He explained that it was a strong statement by the Oklahoma governor to appoint him as Secretary of Health—he was the "first behavioral professional to be so appointed in the state."
In responding to questions from the audience, Dr. Cline expressed the importance of information technology, prevention and early intervention services, the mental health and substance abuse block grants, workforce issues, and relating to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Throughout his presentation, Dr. Cline projected a very easy-going and approachable style. He appeared to have made a favorable impression on the approximately 150 attendees. We in Science Policy are excited to have a fellow psychologist serving in such a powerful role!
Intelligence Science Board Examines the Evidence
On January 16, the Washington Post noted that the Federation of American Scientists had mounted on its website a copy of a report entitled "Educing Information: Science and Art - Foundations for the Future". The Intelligence Science Board (ISB), which serves to advise the Director of National Intelligence, initiated the study in 2004. APA member Robert Fein (who serves on the ISB) chaired the study and wrote the introduction, in which he succinctly describes the background for the study: "Concerns about recent U.S. Interrogation activities, subsequent investigations and the efficacy of contemporary tactics, techniques, and procedures have led the Intelligence Science Board (ISB) to explore the current state of scientific knowledge regarding interrogation and related forms of human intelligence gathering." Several other psychologists contributed to the report, but because of sensitivities surrounding this issue, and rather than trying to summarize, Science Policy staff recommend that interested readers examine the report themselves. The report has generated significant attention on Capitol Hill, and Dr. Fein is scheduled to brief staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as the White House Science Advisor, this week.
Friends of NIDA Takes a Judicious Approach to Research
On the morning of January 22, Science Policy staff arranged a focused briefing for Senate Judiciary Committee staff on behalf of the Friends of NIDA. The briefing was an extension of advocacy that the Friends had initiated around the release of NIDA's research-based guide entitled "Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations." At the end of October, a copy of the guide was delivered to every Congressperson's office on Capitol Hill. The January briefing was led by NIDA Director Nora Volkow and APA member Redonna Chandler (Branch Chief of NIDA's Services Research Branch), who served as organizational lead in the development of the new guide. The briefing was well-attended, and following an overview of the NIDA portfolio and some key research findings, Drs. Volkow and Chandler entertained questions. Several staff noted that the briefing was quite timely, as they expect to reintroduce the Second Chance Act (S.1934) - an offender reentry bill - within the month. They also expressed interest in cost-effectiveness data that NIDA promised to supply. The Friends of NIDA will be reviewing the text of the bill, looking for opportunities to raise awareness of NIDA-funded research.
Leshner Appointed to NIH Director's Advisory Committee
NIH announced on January 22, that Alan I. Leshner, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of its journal, "Science," has been appointed to the Advisory Committee to the Director of NIH. Previously, Dr. Leshner had been Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Deputy Director and Acting Director of the National Institute of Mental Health. Before that, he held a variety of senior positions at the National Science Foundation. In 2004, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to the National Science Board.
The Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) advises the NIH Director on policy matters important to the NIH mission of conducting and supporting biomedical and behavioral research, research training, and translating research results for the public. It's a high-level forum in which perspectives of behavioral scientists should be heard. Dr. Leshner joins psychologist Nancy Adler, PhD, of the University of California-San Francisco, who was appointed to the Committee two years ago.
Psychologist to Chair House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Research
Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA), a licensed clinical psychologist and APA member, is the new Chairman of the House Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Research and Science Education. Last week, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), Chairman of the full House Science and Technology Committee, made official what Science Policy staff had been hearing behind the scenes for several weeks. Before elected to his first term in Congress in 1998, Baird practiced psychology in Washington state and Oregon and was Chairman of the psychology department at Pacific Lutheran University.
In his new role, Baird chairs the Subcommittee with jurisdiction over issues related to the U.S. research enterprise, as well as science and math education. In particular, the Subcommittee provides oversight of National Science Foundation programs and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Baird says that he will be "[l]ooking for ways to increase our country's competitiveness in the fields of math, science and technology, while working to hold our place in the global marketplace," and that his priorities will be to "increase interest in math, science and engineering careers among our country's high school and college students; promote new technologies; and bolster research opportunities." Science PPO staff are headed to the Hill this week to meet with Rep. Baird's Subcommittee Chief of Staff and discuss continued areas of collaboration.