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SIOP in Washington: Advocating for I-O in Federal Public Policy

Jill Bradley-Geist and Bill Ruch

Since July 2013, SIOP and Lewis-Burke Associates LLC have collaborated to make I-O science and research accessible to federal and congressional policy makers.  SIOP has embedded a foundational government relations infrastructure within the organization, enabling SIOP to develop an authoritative voice as a stakeholder in science policy in Washington, D.C. and to promote SIOP as a vital resource for evidence-based decision making.


FY 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Signed into Law

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees concluded negotiations on an omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 244) to fund federal government agencies for the remaining 5 months of fiscal year (FY) 2017.  President Trump signed the bill into law on Friday, May 5.  Despite the cuts proposed by the Trump Administration, the final bill provides increases to federal investments in many of the research, education, and healthcare programs important to research universities and nonprofit research institutions. 


The delayed conclusion of the FY 2017 appropriations process 7 months into the fiscal year was brought about by the Trump Administration’s insistence on putting its stamp on federal spending.  In the end, however, the Administration relented on its top priorities, such as money for a border wall and increased defense spending, to avoid a government shutdown. The bill includes funding for 11 of 12 annual appropriations bills (the bill funding the Department of Veterans Affairs and military construction projects for FY 2017 passed in December) and upholds the overall discretionary $1.07 trillion spending cap for FY 2017 agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 for both defense and nondefense spending.  The bill also provides $93.5 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding for global combat operations and improved military readiness and $8.2 billion in disaster funding to address recovery efforts from fires, floods, and other extreme weather events.  This funding is not subject to the spending caps and allows Congress to fund increases in defense and emergency disaster spending without making cuts to nondefense programs. 


Even with only a $3 billion increase in total discretionary funding for FY 2017 compared to FY 2016, many research and education agencies that enjoy bipartisan support have increases in funding:

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would receive $34 billion, an increase of $2 billion, or 6.2%, above the FY 2016 enacted level.
  • The Pell Grant program would be expanded to accommodate year-round funding for students while most other student aid investments would be flat funded. 
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science would receive $5.39 billion, an increase of $42 million, or 0.7%, above the FY 2016 enacted level.
  • The DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would receive $306 million, an increase of $15 million, or 5.1%, above the FY 2016 enacted level.
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) would receive $7.472 billion, an increase of $9 million, or 0.1%, above the FY 2016 enacted level.
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would receive $19.7 billion, an increase of $368 million, or 1.9%, above the FY 2016 enacted level, including an increase of $176 million for science programs.
  • Although Department of Defense (DOD) basic research account would receive $2.3 billion, or a 1.4 percent decrease over last year, applied research and advanced technology development would be increased by 5.4 percent and 8.4 percent respectively.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) would receive $1.36 billion, an increase of approximately 2.72% above the FY 2016 level.  Within NIFA, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) would receive $375 million, an increase of $25 million above the current enacted level. 
  • The Institute of Education Sciences within the Department of Education would be funded at $605 million, a cut of 2.1% below the FY 2016 level.


This spending bill provides certainty for federal agencies ahead of what is likely to be a protracted legislative process to decide FY 2018 funding priorities for the country.  In contrast to the increases that are provided under the FY 2017 omnibus, the FY 2018 Trump Administration budget blueprint released in March proposed cutting nondefense programs by $54 billion to pay for $54 billion in defense increases.  These cuts include reductions to or eliminations of research and higher education priorities such as the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, National Endowment for the Humanities, environmental agencies, and federal student aid.  With this uncertainty ahead for FY 2018 funding and the potential for an extended continuing resolution, Congress has sought to provide strong FY 2017 funding with the omnibus bill to meet agency needs.


Lewis-Burke Associates LLC analyzed the FY 2017 omnibus and provided an analysis of federal funding for research, education, and healthcare available here.


SIOP Submits FY 2018 Appropriations Testimony on National Science Foundation Funding

On April 14, SIOP submitted written testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, and Science, urging the Subcommittees to appropriate $8 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), in fiscal year (FY) 2018.  The testimony also conveys the importance and applications of social and behavioral science research funded through the Foundation.  SIOP’s testimony will be incorporated into the Congressional Record to highlight the importance of NSF during funding deliberations in the House and Senate.  


NSF collectively funds approximately 60% of the federal social science research portfolio.  These projects are largely overseen by the Foundation’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), which sponsors several projects that support SIOP researchers and practitioners.  Given NSF’s role as the primary conduit for federally sponsored social science research, Lewis-Burke, on behalf of SIOP, has pursued a comprehensive outreach strategy intended to meaningfully raise the profile of I-O research at NSF, directly advocate for federal support for social science, and position I-O researchers to capitalize on NSF funding opportunities.


SIOP Participates in Coalition for National Science Funding Capitol Hill Exhibition

On May 16, SIOP member Katina Sawyer, assistant professor at Villanova University’s Department of Psychology, represented the Society at the 23rd annual Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) Capitol Hill Exhibition in Washington, D.C.


Katina Sawyer at CNSF 2017

The exhibition is an opportunity for CNSF members to display and discuss National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research directly with members of Congress, federal agency officials, and other policymakers, and allows the research community to highlight the importance of continued investment in NSF and basic research.  SIOP’s booth at the exhibition featured ongoing research conducted by Dr. Sawyer, examining the role that male corporate leaders can have in promoting gender inclusivity at the organizational level, subsequently improving business performance.  The booth was very popular with attendees, and Dr. Sawyer was on hand to answer questions and discuss the importance of federal investments in I-O-driven social and behavioral science research.


The booth attracted a number of visitors from federal agencies and congressional offices.  Visitors to the SIOP booth from NSF included Director France Córdova, along with Dr. Fay Lomax Cook, assistant director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE), who oversees the agency’s social science research portfolio and sponsors many projects that support SIOP researchers and practitioners; Dr. Suzi Iacono, head of the Office of Integrative Activities, as well as various other program officials from directorates throughout the agency.  The NSF representatives were excited to hear Dr. Sawyer explain her findings and eager to direct her to additional opportunities at NSF that support projects focused on broadening participation and representation in STEM. In addition, Dr. Sawyer’s research topic provoked interest and engaging conversations with a wide array of congressional staff, including personnel from the offices of Reps. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM-3), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-7), Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6), Denny Heck (D-WA-10), G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1), and several others.  Many of the staff members were interested in learning more about how I-O psychology could be applied to a pressing workforce concern, several of whom took copies of Dr. Sawyer’s presentation and exchanged contact information for future engagement.


SIOP joined CNSF in the fall of 2014 and participated in the past two exhibitions.  CNSF is an alliance of over 140 organizations that support the goal of increasing the national investment in NSF research and education programs.  Participation in the CNSF Exhibition complements SIOP’s ongoing NSF outreach strategy, which has included submitting written testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees advocating for NSF funding, as well as continuous efforts to build and maintain relationships with congressional and federal agency officials.  Through SIOP’s government relations activities, like the CNSF Exhibition, the Society is able to highlight the value of I-O research to federal agency program managers and policymakers and promote SIOP as a prominent and credible stakeholder in the science community’s government relations priorities. 



SIOP Members Spotlight: Editorial on Immigration Policy

In our current TIP feature of SIOP members engaging in government advocacy work, Sarah Lyons-Padilla and Michele Gelfand present an editorial discussing immigration policy as related to their research. To tell us about your own advocacy-related work, please contact current Government Relations Advocacy Team committee chair, Jill Bradley-Geist: jill.bradley-geist@uccs.edu.


The following is an editorial from Sarah Lyons-Padilla and Michele J. Gelfand, stating their personal concerns and advocacy efforts.


After the Paris terrorist attacks in late 2015, a backlash against Muslim immigrants spread throughout the United States.  Then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed implementing a ban on Muslims from entering the country “until we figure out what’s going on.”  As academics who study the risk factors for radicalization among American Muslims, we were alarmed at this ill-conceived response.  Our own data, which had recently been accepted at the new journal, Behavioral Science and Policy showed that such displays of Islamophobia could actually generate the psychological conditions that give way to support for extremism.  We felt compelled to share these research insights with policymakers, all of whom were searching for solutions to the problem of violent extremism, and many of whom were going about it the wrong way.


A few days after the attacks, we published an article in The Conversation, an outlet for academics to write about their research.  This article got picked up by Quartz, The Washington Post, and other news publications.  In the meantime, we reached out to the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), a Washington DC-based organization of psychologists who share an interest in policy-relevant research.  They invited us to present our research to approximately 100 congressional staffers on Capitol Hill.  We also met with our own senators and representatives from Maryland and California, respectively.  In these meetings, we discussed the policy implications of our research and distributed a fact sheet we had authored on the psychology of homegrown radicalization.  Although we were encouraged to see more and more policymakers recognize the counterproductive effects of anti-Muslim rhetoric, President Trump’s promise of a Muslim ban came to fruition in the first weeks of his presidency.  In response, we published an op-ed on our research in The New York Times.  We couldn’t have done this without the support of the Behavioral Science and Policy staff, who are committed to spreading the journal’s research with broader audiences long after the original publication.


For researchers who want to become involved in advocacy work, we can offer three recommendations.  First, write about your research in outlets like The Conversation.  The editorial staff leave the academics in control of the writing, meaning you don’t have to worry about inaccurate representations of your work.  The editors do a great job of helping you frame your research for broader audiences, and many of their pieces get picked up by other widely read news outlets.  Second, consider submitting your research to Behavioral Science and Policy, an open-access journal that caters to academics and practitioners alike.  It reflects the SIOP science–practitioner model!  Finally, look for advocacy opportunities through SIOP or related organizations like SPSSI.  You can contribute to a policy statement, a fact sheet, or participate in one of their periodic policy workshops.

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