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

Alex Alonso, SHRM, & Bill Ruch, Lewis-Burke Associates LLC

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, DC, and to promote SIOP as a vital resource for evidence-based decision making.


As Congress Punts Funding, SIOP Takes a Stand

Faced with another deadline to avert a government shutdown, Congress passed a second continuing resolution (CR) on November 21. The new CR extended federal funding until December 20. CRs lock in the previous year’s funding levels for federal programs and do not allow the creation of large-scale new initiatives. This temporary funding status is particularly disruptive for the research community, who rely on consistent direction and support from federal agencies. To this end, 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.)

SIOP is an active member of the science advocacy community in Washington and signing on to the letter closely aligns with a key guiding principle for SIOP government relations to support workforce and workplace research. To this end, SIOP submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Committee earlier this year, urging Congress to support $9 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as provide strong support for the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), which funds a number of I-O research programs.

At the time of this writing, Congress has made some progress toward coming to agreements on funding amounts to finally solidify fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations. Still, political disagreements over issues such as the president’s proposed wall on the southern border threaten to derail these negotiations. We will provide a full recap on the outcomes of these negotiations in the Spring 2020 edition of TIP.

Two New Advocacy Areas Launched

SIOP recently launched two new advocacy area working groups in the areas of defense and security and education and training, respectively. The advocacy areas will focus on advocating for the consideration of evidence-based I-O psychology as policymakers address the various challenges and opportunities related to these fields.

The new working groups will follow the same model as SIOP’s Technology-Enabled Workforce Advocacy Area, Veterans Transition Advocacy Area, and the SIOP Policing Initiative. As with the other initiatives, the advocacy areas are supported by a working group of experts with deep understandings of I-O research and practice findings. The Defense and Security Advocacy Area will be led by Dr. Reeshad Dalal and the Education and Training Advocacy Area is headed by Dr. Joe Allen. Their working groups will further bridge SIOP’s capabilities with the government-relations expertise at Lewis-Burke to efficiently advocate for evidence-based I-O practices in the consideration of federal programs and policies in these realms.

After convening the working groups, the next step will be formally laying out SIOP’s capabilities to share with policymakers through digestible advocacy statements. We will share the finished statements in future editions of this column once complete.

SIOP Future of Work Advocacy Takes to the Hill

As previously reported, SIOP launched a new 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. There has been a flurry of activity in this space since the group was formed nearly a year ago, including several meetings with congressional offices this fall, as interest continues to grow in pursuing legislative solutions to address this multifaceted topic.

Over the past few months, SIOP’s federal relations partners at Lewis-Burke have met with staff from the House Science, Space, and Technology (SST) Committee; the House Education and Labor Committee; and the office of Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL). Lewis-Burke also joined advocacy area working group member Tara Behrend for a meeting with staff from various congressional offices within the New Democrat Task Force on the Future of Work. Lewis-Burke targeted these offices for their interest in promoting sound, evidence-based policy reforms to address the future of work. The meetings are part of a larger strategy to inform policymakers of the importance of I-O psychology and encourage the inclusion of I-O principles in future legislation and deliberations. Lewis-Burke and the advocacy area working group are now in the process of providing feedback and analysis to congressional offices as needed.

As previously mentioned, working group efforts have ensured I-O consideration in legislation introduced in this Congress regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and the workforce. Lewis-Burke will be sure to provide updates on any outcomes of these and future engagements on this topic.

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 or Bill Ruch at



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