Volume 55     Number 4    Spring 2018      Editor: Tara Behrend

Meredith Turner
/ Categories: 554

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

Jill Bradley-Geist, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and 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, D.C. and to promote SIOP as a vital resource for evidence-based decision making.

Appropriations Update: Congress Reaches Budget Deal and Trump Administration Lays Out Spending Priorities

On February 12, President Trump released his second budget proposal to Congress.  The fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request reflects the political priorities of the White House, but it is ultimately up to Congress to decide which proposals to embrace, modify, or reject as part of the annual appropriations process.

Shortly before the budget was released, Congress and the White House agreed on new funding caps for both FY 2018 and FY 2019 in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which has paved the way for completing FY 2018 appropriations and establishing a FY 2019 budget framework.  Although Congress is hoping to wrap up negotiations in March on FY 2018 funding levels for individual federal agencies, the President’s budget request seeks to set an agenda for FY 2019, accompanied by a $200 billion infrastructure package.  Ultimately, Congress will decide FY 2019 funding levels, but the nonbinding budget request provides a window into activities and planning underway within the agencies and what programs will receive the most attention and focus in the year ahead. 

With respect to funding levels proposed in the president’s request, the Department of Defense (DOD) would be the clear winner, including a 19% requested increase for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  With the higher spending caps just approved, this budget request would provide mostly flat funding (the same level as FY 2017) for many of the largest civilian research agencies, such as National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science.  This is in contrast to Congress, which is expected to use the higher caps to increase many of these agencies’ budgets in the final FY 2018 appropriations bill.  Not all programs fare as well in the Trump budget request.  In a repeat of last year’s recommendation, the request would eliminate several agencies and programs, such as the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  These recommended eliminations are expected to again be rejected by Congress.

The budget request also seeks to impact education and workforce programs, including more than doubling the Department of Labor’s (DOL) apprenticeship program.  Similar to last year, the Department of Education (ED) request would decrease funding that supports college access and affordability, in part to offset proposed increases for programs that enable public and private school choice.  Most notably, the request would eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, GEAR UP, and Title VI International Education programs, while significantly reducing funding for Federal Work-Study. 

Overall, President Trump’s FY 2019 budget request would build on the previous year’s emphasis on defense and national security at the expense of non-defense federal agencies and programs.  The budget request also proposes further agency streamlining, reorganizations, and staff reductions.  These changes reflect a multi-month process by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to shrink the size of the federal government and trim the number of personnel and offices required to conduct oversight or manage programs.  Some of these staff reductions have already begun to occur, through accelerated “buy outs” of personnel, restructuring of offices, or staff attrition. 

Lewis-Burke Associates LLC and SIOP will continue to monitor the situation and seek opportunities to engage on behalf of crucial research programs as deliberations continue.

SIOP Government Relations Introduces the Veterans’ Transition Initiative to Congressional Staff

In December, Adam Kabins joined Lewis-Burke Associates LLC (Lewis-Burke) for a series of meetings with representatives from Capitol Hill to highlight the impacts and applications of I-O evidence-based research to assist veterans as they transition to the workforce; urge stakeholders to apply I-O research to related policies and programs; and position and promote SIOP as a collaborator and resource for these offices going forward. 

The first wave of outreach meetings facilitated by Lewis-Burke were with bipartisan, bicameral congressional offices that have been heavily involved in the ongoing conversation over veterans’ transition to the civilian workforce, including the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees, respectively.  The meetings were a complete success, as staff from each office expressed interest in learning more about the information provided in the Veterans’ Transition Advocacy Statement[RB1] , a guidance document developed by Lewis-Burke in conjunction with SIOP that outlines the critical importance of I-O research-backed solutions to enhance veteran employment experiences.  Further, several committee staff pledged to consider engaging SIOP as a consultative resource in future discussions on veterans’ workforce transition legislation that committees have begun to develop.

Through these meetings, the group learned that both House and Senate committees have been working with the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as other private organizations to focus on both veterans’ transition to and retention in civilian jobs.  Several committee staff believed that I-O research could be helpful in establishing metrics to measure a veteran’s suitability for a civilian job and the development of strategies for translating military competencies a veteran has learned to civilian jobs.  Lewis-Burke and SIOP will continue to interact with these offices and maintain the relationships built through the meetings. 

This outreach was part of an ongoing collaboration between Lewis-Burke and the Government Relations Advocacy Team (GREAT) at SIOP.  Lewis-Burke leads government relations outreach and seeks opportunities to profile I-O findings to federal stakeholders interested in veterans’ transition.  These efforts are in close collaboration with a team of SIOP experts led by Adam Kabins.  The team will continue to coordinate SIOP efforts and I-O research and practice findings relevant to the transition of veterans to the workplace and provide timely feedback and expertise to Lewis-Burke on pressing federal issues as they arise.

Message from Government Relations Advocacy Team Chair, Jill Bradley-Geist: How does your work relate to public policy?

On February 16, I had the opportunity to visit my State Capitol in Denver and participate in meetings where we heard from representatives and economists on pressing issues within the state (and also local and federal) government. Speakers included State Senator Owen Hill (R), State Representative Edie Hooton (D), State Representative Bob Rankin (R), and Natalie Mullis, Fiscal Director, Colorado Legislative Council.

A common theme of the remarks was the importance of the public’s involvement in the legislative process. In particular, the Representatives welcomed input from academic and practitioner subject matter experts on issues related to key policy concerns. Examples of topical issues mentioned throughout the meetings included DACA, cybersecurity, workforce readiness as related to training and education, technology and automation in the workplace, population demographics, and the aging population/workforce. Several of these topics are rooted in I-O psychology and demonstrate the need for our science to be recognized by policymakers and considered in the development of policies at all levels of government, which are enduring goals for the Government Relations Advocacy Team (GREAT) and SIOP leadership.

We would love to know how your own work relates to government and policy issues, and if you have been involved in government advocacy at the local, state, or federal level! To share your thoughts and experiences, please contact Government Relations Advocacy Team Chair, Jill Bradley-Geist at Also, please join us this April at SIOP 2018 Annual Conference in Chicago for a special session on SIOP Government Advocacy and linking your own work to advocacy and public policy issues (Friday, April 20, 3:00 – 3:50 PM – Wrigleyville: Executive Board Session: Link Your I-O Work to Federal Policy & Funding Opportunities).

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