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Jenny Baker
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On the Advocacy Front: SIOP Leadership Travels to DC for Annual Government Relations Retreat and Meeting With Leading Policy Think Tank

Alex Alonso & Bill Ruch

On July 12, Eden King, Talya Bauer, Georgia Chao, Alex Alonso, Steve Kozlowski, and Tracy Vanneman traveled to Washington, DC for the annual SIOP–Lewis-Burke Government Relations Retreat. The retreat offered a chance to evaluate SIOP’s government-relations success from the past year and set goals and strategy for the upcoming year. SIOP leadership and Lewis-Burke explored new pathways for member-driven advocacy to promote I-O expertise in areas of interest to federal stakeholders, such as education, defense/security, and diversity and inclusion, as well as plans for enhanced advocacy training sessions and student engagement. Updates will be provided in TIP as new initiatives are rolled out throughout the year.

Following the retreat, SIOP leadership and Lewis-Burke met with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a leading think tank in the technology and innovation space. In the meeting, SIOP leadership highlighted I-O expertise in understanding and addressing impacts of artificial intelligence, automation, robotics, and other emerging technologies on the workforce and workplace, and discussed how SIOP can support ITIF and contribute to national policy conversations by providing white papers and participating in congressional briefings and other events. ITIF was particularly interested in learning more about the new Technology-Enabled Workforce Advocacy Area working group and discussing potential future partnerships.

Think-tank engagement supports SIOP’s efforts to maintain a robust federal presence and leverage I-O to ensure evidence-based policy making, a key goal for SIOP government relations. Think tanks are reliable sources of information for campaigns and federal stakeholders seeking new policy ideas. Partnership with these groups will enable SIOP to gain traction with ongoing projects that would diversify and extend the Society’s reach in Washington DC, and complement other ongoing advocacy initiatives.

 

Budget Update: Congress and the White House Strike a
New Two-Year Budget Agreement Lifting Spending Caps

On August 2, President Trump signed into law a 2-year budget agreement raising spending levels for fiscal years (FY) 2020 and 2021 and eliminating the threat of automatic spending cuts. By lifting statutory caps on federal spending, Congress and the White House have removed a structural hurdle to the annual appropriations process that stymied lawmakers for years while paving the way for a resolution to FY 2020 appropriations. All eyes are on the Senate Appropriations Committee as it begins the process to draft and consider its bills, including those of interest to I-O researchers.

Senate staff have worked throughout August recess in anticipation of rapid consideration of spending bills upon the chamber’s return in September. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) indicated his preference for three separate appropriations “minibuses” that would combine individual subcommittee bills. Funding for construction of a wall on the southern border, restrictions on abortion, environmental policy issues, and other perennial sticking points will likely re-emerge during this process. Appropriations subject to partisan disagreement, like the Interior and Environment and Commerce, Justice, Science bills, are also not anticipated to move as quickly as others. The National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) may operate under stopgap funding if disagreements emerge and are unresolved before the end of FY 2019 on September 30.

SIOP had submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Committee urging Congress to support $9 billion in funding for NSF, as well as provide strong support for the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE).

NSF Reveals Additional Details on SBE Reorganization Plans

On July 18, Dr. Arthur “Skip” Lupia, assistant director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF), presented to the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) with updates on his plans to reposition the SBE portfolio.

Dr. Lupia, who joined NSF in September 2018, is concerned about attacks on SBE funding in recent years and negative perceptions about the overall importance of some SBE programs. Dr. Lupia’s proposal aims to increase public perception and awareness of the value of basic research in the social and behavioral sciences and highlight that value to policy makers. Initial plans for the proposed realignment include changing the names of select SBE programs and increasing focus on conveying broader research impacts.

During the CNSF meeting, Dr. Lupia provided several examples of SBE-funded initiatives with broader impacts and hinted at the reorganization of the directorate. However, instead of changes to programs being made in September as previously projected, he said that changes to programs would be announced through a dear-colleague letter (DCL) in August or September and begin to affect awards due in 2020. He also forecasted several new initiatives SBE plans to roll out this fall, most of which are updated versions of existing programs, including

  • Human Networks and Data Science: This program will incorporate previous program activities related to both data science and human networks. It will be based on an evolution of the current Resource Implementations for Data Intensive Research in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (RIDIR) program at NSF.
  • Strengthening American Infrastructure: This program will focus on research that develops collaborative intelligence for planning and tackling infrastructure challenges by incorporating human dimensions from the outset of planning. This is intended to be an NSF-wide program with a major SBE component. Dr. Lupia discussed unintended consequences in infrastructure planning that could be avoided with better and earlier consideration of social and behavioral aspects. As an example, he cited drainage systems set up to prevent house flooding in Houston that ended up flooding streets instead, disrupting first responders.
  • Security and Preparedness: SBE funds security initiatives across its programs, but SBE’s investment is currently disjointed and decentralized. This program is intended to consolidate these various efforts. Dr. Lupia has made this topic a priority and may seek to provide additional funding in the future.
  • Science of Learning and Augmented Intelligence: This builds off concepts from the Science of Learning program and expired Science of Learning Centers at NSF. In addition to the evolution of these programs, the new effort will include augmented intelligence research or research on how human performance and understanding can be enhanced by technology. Augmented intelligence is meant to be complementary to other artificial intelligence (AI) research efforts across NSF.
  • Ethical and Responsible Research: This would be an evolution of Cultivating Cultures for Ethical STEM (CCE STEM). SBE intends to have an increased emphasis on ethics and replicability of research.
  • New student programs: Dr. Lupia is exploring ways NSF could build on the American Political Science Association’s Ralph Bunche Summer Institute (RBSI), which provides support for underrepresented students considering doctoral studies in political science. The new program could target other communities such as veterans pursuing STEM careers.

These concepts are still being developed and are subject to change prior to this finalization this fall. Dr. Lupia added that once these changes have been implemented, SBE will look to leverage their strong brand, ability to pursue risk-oriented research, networks, and peer-review system to attract external partners, including other agencies, for wide-scale research initiatives. Dr. Lupia has recently reached out to the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as potential partners to advance SBE-supported research going forward.

Lewis-Burke attends CNSF meetings to ensure SIOP members are aware of the latest NSF intelligence and advocacy opportunities. SBE is a major support stream for I-O researchers and Lewis-Burke will continue to report on the Directorate’s emerging priorities.

Member Spotlight

Dr. Alexander Alonso of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and chair of the SIOP GREAT Committee recently testified to the US House of Representatives’ Special Committee on Modernization of the Congressional Workforce. During his testimony, Dr. Alonso shared insights regarding best practices in recruitment, retention, and benefits administration with the 11-member congressional committee. The entirety of the testimony is available at https://www.c-span.org/video/?461854-1/congressional-staff-diversity-retention. For more information about SIOP advocacy efforts, please contact Bill Ruch at bill@lewis-burke.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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