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SIOP in Washington: 2019 Year in Review

Bill Ruch & Alex Alonso

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.

2019 was a banner year for SIOP advocacy as the Society was able to get our priorities included in more legislation and engage more members in advocacy than any other year! To commemorate these and other highlights, we’ve put together a year in review that provides a summary of key achievements and instructions for how to get involved in 2020.  The infographic can be found on the SIOP website here.

Congress Passes FY 2020 Spending Bill

In late December, after months of negotiations, Congress passed the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations spending package.  FY 2020 appropriations would boost funding for all federal agencies that support research, and most science and technology research and development programs across the federal government would see significant increases.  This action came after SIOP joined over 160 universities, research institutes, and scientific societies to sign on to a letter to congressional leaders.  The letter emphasized the importance of federal investment in research and development initiatives and warned of the adverse impact of uncertain funding on scientific progress.  (The complete letter can be found here.)

The graphic above shows final funding results for major research agencies. The biggest winners are the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy fundamental and applied energy research programs, with more modest increases for the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense science and technology programs, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration science program, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Moving into next year, FY 2021 funding levels are not likely to deviate substantially from final FY 2020 appropriations. The 2-year budget agreement provides only a $5 billion increase to total discretionary spending in FY 2021—from the current level of $1.37 trillion to $1.375 trillion. In addition, completing FY 2021 appropriations and major legislation is often a challenge during a presidential election year. One or more continuing resolutions are likely ahead of and following the elections next November.

As usual, the president’s FY 2021 budget request, released in February, called for across-the-board cuts to basic research agencies like NSF.  In the months ahead, SIOP will continue to advocate for robust funding for NSF and social behavioral science funding writ large as Congress considers FY 2021 appropriations.

Additional information on the 2020 omnibus is available at https://crsreports.congress.gov/AppropriationsStatusTable.

New Social Science Programs Previewed at NSF

In December, Lewis-Burke attended the Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) meeting on behalf of SIOP.  The committee makes recommendations for Assistant Director Arthur “Skip” Lupia, and the assistant director is provided the opportunity to forecast potential forthcoming strategies and opportunities for the directorate.  SBE provides nearly 68% of the federal government’s funding for the social and behavioral sciences.  Lewis-Burke attends this meeting as a way to gather intelligence for I-O researchers on areas of interest.

Dr. Lupia is primarily looking for more cross-disciplinary partnerships between SBE and industry, as well as other federal agencies and NSF directorates, namely Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE).  It is Dr. Lupia’s belief that the social and behavioral sciences could contribute to these fields through use-inspired research in areas like ethics, human factors, trustworthiness, augmented intelligence, societal impacts, etc.  To this end, Dr. Lupia has expressed interest in seeding new cross platform ideas that maintain basic research priorities of NSF but with a greater emphasis on broader impacts.

Specifically, Dr. Lupia has mentioned that he was looking into a few new programs.  One focused on strengthening american infrastructure, which would support research on cyber and physical infrastructure that considers human elements on the front end of the design process, and another focused on improving trust across sectors, including cyber, electronic commerce, politics, and so on.  Dr. Lupia also described an idea for new research pipelines/partnerships between top research universities and underserved institutions, such as minority serving institutions (MSIs), outlined below.  I-O researchers should consider this emerging focus on broader impacts and collaboration as they develop research proposals for SBE.

Funding Opportunity: NSF Releases Dear Colleague Letter for Collaborations With
Minority-Serving Institutions on Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) has released a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), announcing the creation of a new program called Build & Broaden (B2) and calling for the submission of conference proposals to further examine the goals of the program.  B2  is one of a few highly anticipated new programs at SBE proposed by Dr. Lupia.  The program fundamentally seeks innovative solutions to address the low numbers of competitive research proposals from minority-serving institutions (MSIs)1 at SBE relative to other institutions.  The DCL is specifically looking to build research capacity at MSIs by improving meaningful partnerships among MSIs and/or between MSIs and “R1” research institutions.

Proposals may address any SBE field, and collaborations must include at least one MSI.  SBE intends to support up to 10 conferences, and proposers are strongly encouraged to host the conference on a campus of a partnering MSI.  As noted in the DCL, in addition to being a priority for SBE, enhancing diversity and inclusion in research proposals is a major goal for NSF as a whole and was identified as a core value in the agency’s 2018–2022 strategic plan.  Applicants that can successfully demonstrate meaningful research partnerships with/among MSIs that bolster the strength of MSI research capacities could be more competitive for future awards at SBE as B2 expands and in other programs throughout NSF.  Responses to the DCL are due May 1, 2020.  The Dear Colleague Letter can be found at https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2020/nsf20048/nsf20048.jsp.

Future of Work Advocacy Continues and New Advocacy Areas Emerge

As previously reported, SIOP launched an advocacy area on the Technology-Enabled Workforce to provide member-driven support for advocacy for the consideration of evidence-based I-O psychology as policymakers address areas such as the impact of automation and new technologies on the workforce.  In November, Lewis-Burke met with the House Education and Labor Committee staff who are looking to examine policy needs for tech-enabled workforce shifts through the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA).  WIOA authorizes a number of federal programs relating to workforce development, employment, and job training and is due to be reauthorized next year.  Lewis-Burke is working closely with Government Relations and Advocacy Taskforce (SIOP GREAT Committee) to provide input on how SIOP expertise can be supportive in this space.

The SIOP GREAT Committee has also been working with Lewis-Burke to bolster new Advocacy Areas in health, education, and training; and defense and security.  We will report emerging updates from these groups and their advocacy in future editions of this column.

SIOP Advocacy 101

For those interested in learning more about SIOP advocacy and how to leverage your personal advocacy in service of I-O psychology, we recommend attending SIOP 2020 in Austin, Texas.  The Lewis-Burke team will be offering direct training to new advocacy area members and offering lessons learned during a session featuring SIOP GREAT Committee leaders Alex Alonso and Kristin Saboe—SIOP Advocacy 101: Making Your Voice Heard Where It Matters. This session will be held on Friday, April 24, 2020 @ 1:30pm in the JW Grand Salon 2. Don’t be afraid to get involved during our upcoming annual meeting and make your voice heard.

For questions regarding SIOP advocacy, please feel free to contact Alex Alonso at alexander.alonso@shrm.org or Bill Ruch at bill@lewisburke.com.


1 MSIs include Hispanic-serving institutions; Alaska Native-serving institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving institutions; and predominantly Black institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, and Native American-Serving nontribal institutions.  Full requirements for MSIs are on the Department of Education website at https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/edlite-minorityinst.html.

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