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Sunset Review for APA Committee

Date:    March 18, 2009
To:       SIOP Executive Committee
From:   Talya Bauer
Re:       Report on Sunset Review for the APA Committee
 
A sunset review of the APA committee was conducted by contacting the present chair (Robert Sinclair) and past chair (Christopher Robert) of this committee. I also contacted David Mayer (incoming chair) but he did not feel he could add much to the questions since he has not begun his term. Each of them provided answers to the series of sunset review questions presented in the SIOP Administrative Manual. Their responses are summarized below. Based on the responses, I recommend the continuation of this committee.  
 
1. What are the routine tasks and obligations of the committee?
 
Past Chair (Robert):
 
The basic job is to put together the program for Div. 14 for the APA conference.
 
This involves:
a) interacting with the APA program staff to
b) handle the review and acceptance/rejection of submissions through the APA system, which…
c) requires that a committee be put together to assist in the review and scoring of submissions
d) the year before I took over as APA program chair for SIOP we started accepting bubble submissions from the SIOP conference, which require
e) interacting with SIOP program chair and SIOP admin office staff to receive data on submissions that didn’t make it in to SIOP, but were close and where the authors indicated interest in being considered for APA, then
f) choosing submissions to add to the program based on available space in the APA program
g) Inviting speakers for presentations. This includes inviting the current Div. 14 president, but also likely invitations to prominent local I/O types to give invited addresses, as well as Div. 14 representatives to the APA council.
h) The program chair also needs to determine the mix of different types of programming, including poster sessions, symposia (paper sessions), and various invited talks.
i) Coordinate the social hour with the sponsoring hotel and with other co-sponsoring divisions (e.g., Div. 5)
j) Enter all program decisions into the APA conference planning system within the constraints applied by the APA program office.
k) Coordinate with other divisions about shared programs—either programs initiated by Div. 14, or programs initiated by others
l) attend conference and perhaps provide introductions for invited speakers.
 
Current Chair (Sinclair): - Compose review committee
- Review submissions to APA conference & make accept/reject decisions as well as organizing paper/poster sessions
- Form special sessions designed to achieve strategic goals of SIOP (e.g., member interest, visibility, collaboration with other divisions)
- Recruit additional submissions from papers/symposia submitted to the annual SIOP conference but not accepted for the conference
- Collaborate with Division 5 on social hour planning at the conference
- Routine progress reporting to APA and to SIOP
- PR efforts such as APA conference highlights; Call for papers and conference highlights reported in TIP
 
2. How well have these been handled?
 
·        Past Chair (Robert): One of the first things the APA program chair does is assemble a committee to review submissions. This has typically involved retaining members from the previous year’s committee who had only served one year, and finding replacements for members who had served for two years. A committee of about 20 seems about right in terms of the number of submissions that need to be reviewed within the time frame. With the exception of feedback solicited from the committee regarding submissions that are made through APA, the program chair typically handles most of the duties himself or herself, including final acceptance/rejection decisions. The scope of SIOP’s contribution to APA is not very substantial in terms of program hours and participants, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to form committees or subcommittees to head up smaller parts of the program. This means that the program chair has a lot of discretion about what gets in and what the program looks like. Also, it means that the program chair has sole responsibility for ensuring that the Division’s responsibilities are fulfilled. Fortunately, the APA office is pretty good about informing and reminding people about what must be done and when.
 
·        Current Chair (Sinclair): The Program Chair does most of the work with a small committee.
 
3. What are the regular and recurring expenses of the committee?
 
·        Past Chair (Robert): The primary expense is a contribution to the Social Hour, typically co-sponsored by other divisions. This expense has been shared by corporate sponsors that have graciously donated funds for this purpose. Part of the program chair’s job is to solicit these contributions. Additional A/V equipment might also need to be rented and arranged (e.g., microphones, video equipment).
·        Current Chair (Sinclair): The only regular expense is the budget for the social hour.
4. What special projects have been assigned or assumed?
 
·        Past Chair (Robert): The APA program chair is responsible for initiating any special programs such as invited talks. It took me a little while to figure out that it was essentially completely up to me to decide who to invite and how many special programs to include. Thus, its important that a new program chair starts the process of developing special programs quickly.
 
·        Current Chair (Sinclair): Nothing beyond those described above.
 
 
 
5. What are the noteworthy successes or failures?
 
·        Past Chair (Robert): SIOP does not get a lot of attendees at the conference, and sessions are not particularly well-attended. However, my informal estimation of SIOP’s attendance suggests that many attendees were from close proximity to the conference site. We encouraged this by sending targeted e-mails (through the SIOP admin office) to people within driving distance of the conference, encouraging submissions and attendance.
 
·        Current Chair (Sinclair): In an era of declining institutional support for professional travel and SIOP members’ potentially declining interest in or ability to attend the APA, we continue to assemble conference programs that are of high scientific quality and that are likely to appeal to a broad cross section of our membership, as well as APA members more generally.
 
 
 
6. Should the committee continue to exist? 
 
·        Past Chair (Robert): Yes. I think having a committee (in addition to the chair) is important insofar as it would be quite burdensome for a single person to review submissions by himself or herself.
 
·        Current Chair (Sinclair): Yes.
 
 
 
7. What is needed to make the committee more effective?
 
·     Past Chair (Robert): I think our current (informal) system of having the next year’s chair electronically shadow the current chair (i.e., by being copied on e-mails), and the current chair using the previous chair as an information source works fairly well for training the incoming chair and providing him/her with resources.
 
Current Chair (Sinclair): The biggest challenge I had was the need to better synchronize the data SIOP shares about the papers that were not accepted with the information APA requires for the conference. This included (a) incomplete data from SIOP about some presentations, (b) my note that some of the data reported by members in the member data base is not completely accurate, and (c) that the information required by APA is not completely consistent with the information obtained from SIOP. It may not be possible to completely synchronize these efforts, but this was the largest challenge. If I had to repeat the task again, I would be more proactive about identifying the information I needed from SIOP for the APA data bases prior to getting spreadsheets from SIOP. I would also check the completeness of this information earlier in the process.
 
The other somewhat more minor challenge was that many members who indicated a desire to have their papers considered for the APA conference either changed their minds or never responded to my invitation. I do not know what information is included in the SIOP conference submission about this, but it would be nice if the dates of the APA conference were included so members would have that information and perhaps some stronger statement that indicating you want your paper to be considered for APA assumes that you would be willing to attend and present the paper if it was accepted. This is obvious and my example is clumsily worded, but it would streamline the process to be able to discourage people who are not serious about attending the conference. However, ultimately this is a minor issue.
 
Finally, we all want more money in a time where there are less funds available, but given that the APA conference is frequently not on the conference rotation for members and may be an extra conference in terms of support from their institutions, it seems reasonable to me that SIOP would provide $500 to support the program chair’s travel costs.
 
8. How is the committee relevant to addressing one or more of the strategic issues facing the Society?
 
·        Past Chair (Robert): With regard to the existence of the committee, I guess its necessary if we are to continue to have a presence at APA, which is something I think we want to do to continue to have exposure within the profession and in the public. In addition, serving on the APA program committee is a good way for individuals to provide service to the division without a major time obligation. That being said, I think there was only 1 person who expressed interest in volunteering for the committee who later agreed to serve—so perhaps few people know about it or what it entails (i.e., that its really a minimal time commitment).
 
·        Current Chair (Sinclair): It serves an important presence at APA.
 
 
 
9. Are committee materials (e.g., Administrative Manual) complete and up-to-date?
 
·        TB: They appear to be complete – no suggestions for additions/revision were made. Chairs did not find them particularly useful, however.  Bob Sinclair is working on creating a document to help the new chair. It seems the administrative manual could be better integrated/used by chairs. I’m not sure how to do that.