Public Policy Update

APA's Public Policy Office (PPO) relies on psychologists' active involvement to strengthen psychology's voice in policy-making by Congress and federal agencies.

This kind of advocacy is achieved through psychologists presenting at congressional briefings and hearings, serving on federal panels and commissions and meeting with policy brokers. In this column, we acknowledge and thank those who played a significant role in our advocacy efforts over the last year.

Testifying before Congress in support of research

Health and Human Welfare: On May 16, David Abrams, PhD, Brown University School of Medicine, and Karen Matthews, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, were asked by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) to present testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. Psychologist Peter Kaufmann, PhD, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, testified on behalf of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). On May 21, Kelly Brownell, PhD, Yale University, testified at a hearing on nutrition and physical activity called by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. On May 23, Jessie Gruman, PhD, Center for the Advancement of Health, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Government Oversight on ways in which the Medicare program can take a larger role in the translation of behavioral research to practice.

Mark Goldman, PhD, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism College Drinking Task Force and of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Research Institute at the University of South Florida, urged lawmakers to strengthen programs that curb binge drinking on college campuses at a May 15 Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs hearing on college drinking prevention. On May 22, Charles Schuster, PhD, Wayne State University, provided testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the disparity in sentencing guidelines for possession of crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

Defense: Promoting psychological research as a tool to assist national security, Stephen Zaccaro, PhD, George Mason University, testified before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Defense on behalf of APA on June 12. He asked the subcommittee to allocate funds for psychological research in its fiscal year 2003 Department of Defense research budgets.

Other federally funded research: APA Div. 7 (Developmental) President Nora Newcombe, PhD, APA's witness at an April 16 House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, made a strong case for increasing the behavioral research budgets at the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, on May 22, Alan Leshner, PhD, American Association for the Advancement of Science, testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in support of doubling the budget of the NSF.

Terrorism and disaster response

Roxane Cohen Silver, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, represented APA with her presentation, "Coping with stressful life events: navigating in the wake of 9/11" at the annual congressional science fair sponsored by the Coalition for National Science Funding on May 15. At the same event, Stephen Ceci, PhD, was invited by Cornell University to showcase how the Cornell Institute for Research on Children provides a link between developmental researchers and policy-makers. On June 18, Dale Cohen, PhD, and Len Lecci, PhD, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, represented APA at a congressional briefing, presenting their research on determinants of perceived health risks as related to anthrax. Their testimony highlighted the value of funding mechanisms, such as the NSF's Small Grants for Exploratory Research program (which funds their research), that allow scientists to take advantage of unique research opportunities on short notice.

On April 24, at an APA co-sponsored congressional briefing, Baruch Fischhoff, PhD, Carnegie Mellon University, Felice Levine, PhD, American Sociological Association, and Eduardo Salas, PhD, University of Central Florida, highlighted the importance of harnessing knowledge about how people behave in emergencies to guide the strategies, infrastructure and technologies created to prepare for future disasters.

Public interest issues

Health and behavior: On Sept. 25, Terrance Albrecht, PhD, University of South Florida, Tim Baker, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and James Gold, PhD, Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, participated in a congressional briefing co-sponsored by APA, to highlight translational research supported by the NIH.

Health disparities: Vicki Mays, PhD, National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, and Brian Smedley, PhD, Institute of Medicine, presented on the newly released Institute of Medicine report on health disparities in an April 12 briefing sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust.

Early Head Start and childhood education: On Feb. 12, Edward Zigler, PhD, Yale University, spoke about early childhood education at a Senate HELP Committee hearing. On June 28, Rachel Chazan Cohen, PhD, Administration for Children and Families, and Tammy Mann, PhD, National Resource Center for Early Head Start, presented at a congressional briefing sponsored by the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The briefing was also part of the Decade of Behavior Initiative and co-sponsored by APA and several other organizations.

Child abuse prevention: On June 11, several APA Members presented at a briefing on child abuse prevention at the U.S. Capitol, sponsored by APA's Div. 37 (Child, Youth and Family Services) Section on Child Maltreatment and the Consortium on Children, Families and the Law. Presenters included Jeffrey Haugaard, PhD, Cornell University, and Sharon Portwood, PhD, JD, University of Missouri-Kansas City, with APA President Philip G. Zimbardo, PhD, delivering introductory remarks.

Violence prevention: Cathy Spatz Widom, PhD, New Jersey Medical School, testified on "The scientific study of violence" at a May 1 briefing of the Joint Steering Committee for Public Policy (comprised of several biomedical associations), sponsored by the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus.

Geropsychology: At a March 14 congressional briefing sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), titled "The contributions of geropsychologists to an aging America," APA Members Michael Duffy, PhD, Texas A&M University, Jane Fisher, PhD, University of Nevada-Reno, Forrest Scogin, PhD, University of Alabama, Beth Hudnall Stamm, PhD, Idaho State University, and Antonette Zeiss, PhD, Palo Alto VA Health Care System, underscored the valuable role of geropsychologists in the lives of older Americans and the need for federal funding for geropsychology training.

Women's health and mental health: On Jan. 30, Gwendolyn P. Keita, PhD, APA's director of women's programs, presented APA testimony on "Women's mental health: What do we know and what do we need?" at a congressional briefing sponsored by the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation and Women's Policy Inc. Carolyn Mazure, PhD, Yale University School of Medicine, presented on behalf of the Society for Women's Health Research at an April 25 hearing of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Public Health.

Serving on federal commissions

President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health: APA's Public Policy and Government Relations Offices were instrumental in the appointment of three psychologists to the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, the first presidential commission on mental health since President Carter's 1978 commission. The mandate of the 15-member commission is to conduct a comprehensive one-year study of the nation's mental health service delivery system and make recommendations for improvement. The three APA members on the commission are Larke Nahme Huang, PhD, Georgetown University's Center for Child Health and Mental Health Policy, Stephen Wright Mayberg, PhD, California Department of Mental Health, and Deanna Yates, PhD, Texas Psychological Association. Diane Marsh, PhD, chair of APA's Task Force on Serious Mental Illness/Serious Emotional Disturbance, presented invited APA testimony on July 19. Robert Friedman, PhD, University of South Florida, presented his perspective on the state of children's mental health and a vision for an improved system.

Promoting a federal Education Advocacy Network

On Sept. 21-23, PPO hosted the annual advocacy training workshop for the Regional Coordinators of the newly established Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators (FEDAC) grassroots network of schools and training sites for graduate psychology programs. This year's training was devoted to enhancing recruiting skills and developing strategies for increasing the number of FEDAC Campus and Training Site Representatives. A related focus was on making hill visits to garner support for $6 million for fiscal year 2003 for the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program. The FEDACs reported very positive responses from the offices they visited.

Currently, there are 12 FEDAC Regional Coordinators: David Gansler, PhD, Suffolk University, Kathi Borden, PhD, Antioch New England Graduate School, Laura Palmer, PhD, Seton Hall University, Mary Jo Loughran, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, Sarah Cook, PhD, Georgia State University, Sharon Berry, PhD, Minneapolis Children's Hospitals and Clinics, James Bray, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine, Pauline Clansy, PhD, Houston Independent School District, Jim Lichtenberg, PhD, University of Kansas, Michael Roberts, PhD, University of Kansas, John Klocek, PhD, University of Montana, Rod Goodyear, PhD, University of Southern California, Gilbert Newman, PhD, The Wright Institute, and Patricia Cole, PhD, Central Washington University. If you would like to join the FEDAC grassroots network as either a Regional Coordinator or Campus/Training Representative, contact Sheila Forysth at

Honoring members of Congress

On May 28, at a reception held at the home of Peter Nathan, PhD, University of Iowa, and hosted by the APA Education Directorate and Education Policy Office, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) was awarded an APA Presidential Citation for his long-standing support of health care, including behavioral and mental health, for underserved populations across America and for his support of the newly established GPE Program. PPO thanks Nathan as well as Carmella Schultes, executive director of the Iowa Psychological Association (IPA), and IPA members. Kris Hagglund, PhD, former Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow in Senator Harkin's office, also played a critical role in the Harkin reception and continues to further education advocacy initiatives.

Visiting members of Congress and federal agencies

Psychological research to counter terrorism: On March 1, Maj. Jonathan Drummond, Princeton University, Victoria Esses, PhD, University of Western Ontario, Baruch Fischhoff, PhD, Carnegie Mellon University, Deborah Frisch, PhD, NSF, Arie Kruglanski, PhD, University of Maryland, Donald Norman, PhD, Northwestern University, Eldar Shafir, PhD, Princeton University, and Peter Suedfeld, PhD, University of British Columbia, joined PPO staff in meetings with senior legislative staff in the House and Senate Science Committees to raise awareness of how psychological research might be used to understand, prepare for and counter terrorism. Following an April 28 briefing Fischhoff accompanied PPO staff in a meeting with Frank Ciluffo, special assistant to the president for external affairs on homeland security, and his staff to discuss how behavioral and social science research could inform the mission of homeland security. APA President Philip G. Zimbardo, PhD, met with officials at the National Security Council in late spring to discuss the contributions of psychology to ameliorate the repercussions of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Appropriations: Following their testimony noted above, both Newcombe and Zimbardo met with staff of the House Appropriations Committee and their local representative to promote funding for psychology. Newcombe focused on behavioral research funding for NSF, NASA and the VA, while Zimbardo targeted funding for NIH, graduate psychology education and school mental health services. Zimbardo also met with Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and his chief aide, Pat DeLeon, PhD, JD, to discuss a similar range of issues on May 8. The following week, Daniel Willingham, PhD, University of Virginia, met with the House Appropriations Subcommittee staff director to advocate for NSF's new Science of Learning Centers.

Child abuse prevention: Haugaard and Portwood also followed their testimony noted earlier with visits to their members of Congress in support of reauthorization and increased funding for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.

Science education: PPO called upon Marcia Linn, PhD, University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Education, a learning researcher who participated in the ninth Science Advocacy Training Workshop, to meet with NSF program staff to discuss ways to ensure that psychological expertise is incorporated into the implementation process of the NSF's new Math and Science Partnerships Program.

This report was compiled by APA's Public Policy Office.