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Jenny Baker
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2020 Year in Review

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.

 

Although 2020 was a challenging year, SIOP advocacy was able to adapt, forge meaningful connections with federal audiences, and use new virtual capabilities to engage members like never before, including expanded advocacy training and outreach. To commemorate these and other highlights, we’ve put together a “year in review” that provides a summary of key achievements for 2020 and another infograph for how to get involved in 2021.

President Biden Elevates Social Science; Signs a Flurry of Executive Orders

After an election and certification process, Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in January 20, becoming the 46th president of the United States. Also, after winning two runoff elections in Georgia earlier this January, the Democrats now control the Senate with a razor-thin 50–50 margin, with Vice President Harris being the tie-breaking vote. The new administration will present numerous opportunities for SIOP engagement as President Biden has pledged to elevate science in policymaking and made restoring the federal workforce a top priority. Starting on his first day in office, President Biden has signed a flurry of executive orders (EOs) related to workforce and workplace issues, as well as other topics relevant to SIOP members, including

  • Equity: Actions include revoking the previous administration’s EO on race and sex stereotyping, which would restrict federal agencies and contractors from supporting certain types of diversity and inclusion training (SIOP leadership released a statement last year in support of programs to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace in response to the EO); strengthening workforce discrimination protections at federal agencies to include sexual orientation and gender identity; and mandating that federal agencies conduct equity assessments and effectively measure equity practices.
  • Federal workforce: Actions include rescinding a number of the previous administration’s EOs related to federal employee unions and civil service protections, including ending the new Schedule F classification that allowed agencies to strip certain employees of protections and fire them without cause, as well as instilling measures to increase collective bargaining and minimum wages, among other provisions.
  • Immigration: Actions include preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides legal status for undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children, and revoking the previous administration’s travel ban that was criticized for targeting Muslim-majority countries.
  • Student loans: Extended the pause on federal student loan payments through September 30, 2021 and calling on Congress to address student loan debt forgiveness in future legislation.

These are just some of the dozens of the executive actions taken by the new administration with more expected in the weeks to come. An updated list of EOs can be found on the new White House’s website here.

President Biden has also made a number of moves to elevate science within the administration including promoting the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to the cabinet level. Along with nominating geneticist Dr. Eric Lander to head up OSTP, President Biden has named Dr. Alondra Nelson, a social scientist and expert on social and racial inequity in STEM, to serve in a newly created deputy director position. Dr. Nelson, a distinguished scholar, has been called an “inspired choice” by Nature, garnering praise from scientists and politicos alike. Her nomination signals a step toward the president’s pledge to tackle racism in America and is a huge win for the social science community. Lewis-Burke and the SIOP Government Relations Advocacy Team (GREAT) will look to engage Dr. Nelson as her role is further defined.

116th Congress Ends With FY 2022 Spending Bill, COVID Relief, and Defense Authorization With Wins for I-O Priorities

After months of gridlock, Congress closed the year by passing major legislative packages, including a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending package with funding for all fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations bills, a $908 billion COVID-aid package, and the yearly National Defense Authorization Act, which required a congressional override of former President Trump’s veto. Areas of note for SIOP members include

  • Sustained funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF): NSF is funded at $8.487 billion in the final appropriations deal. Earlier last year, SIOP submitted testimony to the House and Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittees that described the importance of federal investment in I-O research and requested that the committee direct NSF to invest in research into and implementation of the Science of Team Science at NSF. The testimony further urged Congress to support $9 billion in funding for NSF in FY 2021. SIOP also joined fellow members of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) on a letter of support for funding NSF at $9 billion in FY 2021. Although the final amount is below this request, significant progress was made as the final amount was an increase of $208 million or 2.5% over the FY 2020 enacted level.
  • National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act passed: The NDAA, which often serves as a vehicle for a broad variety of bills to advance, included a version of the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act, a bill SIOP advocated for in the past. This bill directed NSF and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to partner on a study aimed at exploring workforce impacts, needs, opportunities, and data gaps arising out of increased adoption of AI. Lewis-Burke sees this as a clear avenue for SIOP to contribute to the conversation and is working with the Technology Enabled Workforce Advocacy Area to connect I-O experts with program leads behind the initiative. Ideally, this engagement will result in SIOP members being selected for the study panel, called to present before the panel, or otherwise consulted when creating the set of recommendations.
  • Inclusion of 501(c)6 organizations in a critical loan program: The COVID-19 relief package included a win for SIOP advocacy by expanding eligibility for forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to include certain 501(c)6 nonprofits with 300 or fewer employees. This would make SIOP eligible for PPP loans if ever needed. The Society joined like-minded groups to advocate for the inclusion of 501(c)6 organizations in federal relief packages throughout last spring and summer, including reaching out to SIOP’s home members of Congress in the Ohio delegation.

Early SIOP Congressional Advocacy Focuses on Federal Workforce Reform and Policing
Lewis-Burke recently met with staff for a member of Congress in a leadership position on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on behalf of SIOP. In the meeting, Lewis-Burke learned that the committee is expected to host a series of hearings on the federal workforce. Anticipated topics include improving morale and ways to support the federal workforce after the upheaval many agencies experienced during the previous administration. The committee plans to get more proactive throughout the year, including consideration of the skills future federal employees will need to succeed in their roles, as well as long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the federal workforce like lasting telework policies. This spring, SIOP plans to host a virtual congressional briefing on I-O topics related to federal workforce reform, including telework policy, diversity and inclusion, and education and training to complement these committee actions. SIOP also intends to serve as a direct resource as the committee considers changes relevant to I-O and federal workforce policy.

Also, as previously reported, following renewed calls for federal policies to address policing reform in the summer of 2020, SIOP leadership worked with Lewis-Burke to relaunch the SIOP Policing Initiative. The initiative aims to communicate relevant I-O psychology findings from SIOP experts in this space to policymakers. The new working group supports the application of scientific theory and data-driven methods and findings to enhance police recruitment and selection processes, supervision and leadership, training and development, diversity and inclusion, and other areas. Policing reform legislation hit a partisan impasse in Congress last year, and lawmakers are looking to reconsider it. With Democratic majorities in both chambers and the White House, SIOP is building on this momentum by participating in a series of introductory meetings with House and Senate Judiciary Committee staff in late February to advocate for the inclusion of evidence-based I-O findings. We will report on the progress of this initiative in future editions of TIP.

SIOP Meets SEAN

In 2020, Lewis-Burke received advance intelligence about plans for a new National Academies partnership with the NSF Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate called the Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN). SEAN is a consortium of social scientists that provide evidence-based responses to inquiries from groups of decision makers at the federal, state, and local levels. SEAN identifies experts to support the network in an ad-hoc manner and respond to questions they have received. Lewis-Burke noted SIOP’s interest in supporting this effort and provided background on relevant I-O findings related to recent workforce disruptions. In February, Lewis-Burke facilitated a virtual meeting between SEAN leadership and Tammy Allen and Steve Kozlowski. As a result of the productive meeting, SEAN expressed interest in partnering with SIOP on inquiries related to I-O topic areas. Drs. Allen and Kozlowski will work with GREAT to be SIOP’s points of contact between SEAN and I-O experts for future consultation on workforce issues. This connection could go a long way toward ensuring I-O findings are adopted by policymakers at all levels.

Federal Funding Opportunity: Army Research Institute Releases Basic Research BAA With Several I-O Topics

The Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI) released its Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for basic scientific research in behavioral science for fiscal years (FY) 2021–2022. The BAA is seeking novel and multidisciplinary approaches in areas of behavioral and social sciences to improve army-personnel readiness. Proposals should address one or more of the following basic research topics of interest: personnel testing and performance, learning in formal and informal environments, organizational effectiveness, and leader processes and measurement.
ARI will accept two types of BAA proposals: basic research proposals, with average awards of $840,785 for a 2- to 3-year period, and early career proposals, for individuals who have never received ARI funding as a principal investigator, with an expected 1 year of funding with the option for additional funding for 1 to 2 years. Basic research proposals are strongly encouraged to include multidisciplinary approaches, and ARI will not support proposals that are primarily applied research projects. All institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, and commercial entities are eligible to apply.

White papers, which are strongly encouraged, must be submitted via email to Dr. Alexander Wind, alexander.p.wind.civ@mail.mil, no later than May 15, 2022 at 5:00 PM (ET). Full proposals must be submitted no later than August 4, 2022 at 5:00 PM (ET). The full BAA can be found on https://grants.gov under solicitation number “W911NF-21-S-0007” or here.

New Policy Newsletter

Lewis-Burke and GREAT have partnered to launch the Washington InfO, a new monthly newsletter to provide SIOP members updates on pressing federal news of interest to the I-O community, including updates on emerging workforce/workplace policies and funding opportunities. For questions regarding SIOP advocacy or to subscribe to the newsletter, please feel free to contact SIOP’s GREAT Chair Alex Alonso at alexander.alonso@shrm.org or Bill Ruch at bill@lewisburke.com.

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