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

Bill Ruch, Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, and Alexander Alonso, Society for Human Resource Management

Since July 2013, SIOP and Lewis-Burke Associates LLC (Lewis-Burke) 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; to navigate the federal political landscape; and to engage with federal and congressional policy makers, promoting SIOP as a vital resource for evidence-based decision making.  SIOP in Washington features government relations activities and news to inform members on SIOP engagement with the federal government and relevant public policy.

Appropriations Update: SIOP Submits FY 2019 Appropriations Testimony on National Science Foundation Funding and House Appropriations Committee Approves Funding for Key Science Agencies

SIOP Submits FY 2019 Appropriations Testimony on National Science Foundation Funding

On April 17, SIOP submitted written testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) urging them to appropriate $8.45 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in fiscal year (FY) 2019.  The testimony also conveys the importance and applications of social and behavioral science research funded through the Foundation.  SIOP’s testimony will be incorporated into the Congressional Record to inform funding deliberations in the House and Senate.  

NSF collectively funds over 60% of the federal social science research portfolio.  These projects are largely overseen by the Foundation’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), which sponsors several projects that support SIOP researchers and practitioners.  Given NSF’s role as the primary conduit for federally sponsored social science research, Lewis-Burke Associates LLC (Lewis-Burke), on behalf of SIOP, has pursued a comprehensive outreach strategy intended to meaningfully raise the profile of I-O research at NSF, directly advocate for federal support for social science, and position I-O researchers to capitalize on NSF funding opportunities.

House Appropriations Committee Approves Funding for Key Science Agencies

A few weeks later, on May 17, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill by a party line vote of 32–19.  The bill would provide a total of $62.5 billion in discretionary funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Economic Development Administration (EDA), and Department of Justice (DOJ), among other programs.  The total allocation—$2.9 billion more than the House CJS Appropriations Subcommittee received in FY 2018—would support large increases to NASA, NSF, and DOJ while also accommodating an additional $2 billion for the Census Bureau as the agency ramps up to the 2020 Census. 

As part of its consideration of the bill, the House Appropriations Committee released its report containing more details and direction to the agencies on CJS programs.  In keeping with the previous year, the House bill would largely ignore many of the spending cuts proposed in the administration’s budget request, including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), minority-serving, and scientific research programs at both NSF and NASA.  Of particular interest to SIOP, the House bill would provide the following funding levels:

  • NSF would be funded at $8.17 billion, slightly below the requested amount from SIOP and the research community, but $408 million above the FY 2018 omnibus level.  The Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account would be funded at $6.6 billion, $317 million above the FY 2018 level.  Among other priorities, NSF would be directed to continue to award grants to support STEM education authorized under the STEM Education Act of 2015, including those related to developing “innovations in mentoring, training and apprenticeships.”  The 2015 act authorized NSF’s informal education portfolio and defined STEM to explicitly include computer science.
  • NASA would receive $21.5 billion, an increase of $810 million or 3.9 percent above the FY 2018 enacted level.  Within this amount, the Science Mission Directorate would receive $6.68 billion, an increase of $459 million and 7.4 percent above FY 2018.  The bill would also embrace the Administration’s proposal to eliminate the Space Technology Mission Directorate and reorient agency-wide technology activities toward solely human spaceflight endeavors.
  • DOJ would receive $31.1 billion, an $805 million increase above the FY 2018 enacted level.  Within this amount, the bill would provide increased funding for Research, Evaluation, and Statistics (RES) within DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), and designate specific funding for research on evidence-based opioid intervention strategies, building police–community trust, offender reentry programs, and violence against women.

SIOP is prepared to work with others in the science policy community to continue to advocate for robust funding for research priories as this bill makes its way to the House floor and as the Senate considers complementary legislation.

SIOP Participates in Coalition for National Science Funding Exhibition and Meetings on Capitol Hill

On May 9, SIOP member Dr. Tara Behrend, associate professor at the George Washington University’s Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication, participated in a series of meetings with key congressional committees on preparing and inspiring the future Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce with innovative STEM-focused high schools.  Dr. Behrend and Bill Ruch from Lewis-Burke Associates LLC (Lewis-Burke) met with staff from key congressional committees with oversight over STEM issues, including the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; the House Education and the Workforce Committee; and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Research and Technology Subcommittee.

During the meetings, Dr. Behrend explained her work on promoting inclusive STEM education and I-O research findings in key areas such as work at the human–technology frontier, artificial intelligence, and other pressing workforce issues.  The staff appreciated learning more about I-O and expressed interest in SIOP's ability to provide future input when the committees consider initiatives to bolster workforce pipelines.  Later that day, Dr. Behrend represented the Society at the 24th annual Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) Capitol Hill Exhibition. 

The Exhibition is an opportunity for CNSF members to display and discuss National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research directly with members of Congress, federal agency officials, and other policymakers and allows the research community to highlight the importance of continued investment in NSF and basic research.  SIOP’s booth at the exhibition featured Dr. Behrend’s research on STEM education.  The booth was popular with attendees, and Dr. Behrend answered questions and discussed the importance of federal investments in I-O-driven social and behavioral science research.

Visitors to the booth included NSF leadership from several key directorates, including Dr. Tamera Schneider, Deputy Division Director of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, as well as various other federal agency officials.  In addition, Dr. Behrend’s research topic provoked interest and conversations with members of Congress, including Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7) and Rep. James Comer (R-KY-1), as well as staff from several congressional offices.  As a whole, the experience helped elevate the profile of the Society and I-O research within the scientific community and to key decision makers in Washington.

CNSF is an alliance of over 140 organizations that support the goal of increasing the national investment in NSF research and education programs.  SIOP joined CNSF in the fall of 2014 and participated in the past three exhibitions.  Through SIOP’s government relations activities, like the CNSF Exhibition, the Society is able to highlight the value of I-O research to federal agency program managers and policymakers and promote SIOP as a prominent and credible stakeholder in the science community’s government relations priorities. 

Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Advisory Committee Meeting Previews Convergence Accelerator Program

On May 10–11, Lewis-Burke Associates LLC (Lewis-Burke) attended the Spring 2018 Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Given the importance of the SBE Directorate for federally funded social and behavioral science, attending this meeting enables Lewis-Burke to monitor developments within the directorate that have relevance for SIOP and maintain relationships with key program officials and administrators.

Of interest to I-O researchers and practitioners was the discussion regarding the development of new NSF Convergence Accelerators, including one on the Future of Work at the Human–Technology Frontier (FW-HTF).  FW-HTF is one of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas focused on multidisciplinary research to better understand and advance human–technology partnership in the workplace.

At the meeting, Dr. Fay Lomax Cook, assistant director for SBE, presented on the forthcoming Convergence Accelerators program, which would seek partnerships with other agencies, industry, foundations, and international organizations to support translational research, testbeds, infrastructure access, and workforce considerations in areas of national importance.  The Convergence Accelerators would support application-driven and use-inspired basic research and would support research teams to take ideas from concept to deliverables.  Convergent and diverse teams of six to ten people would be integrated into cohorts that NSF would “proactively and intentionally” manage.  Through this new activity, NSF would provide seed investment, competition, education, and mentorship.

NSF plans to initiate Convergence Accelerators in a limited number of tracks or focus areas, with each providing specific outcomes and deliverables.  Example FW-HTF tracks presented at the NSB meeting included:

  • “Smart manufacturing environments: adaptive collaboration between humans and machines using Artificial Intelligence (AI) 
  • Cybersecurity at scale: identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities using AI”
  • During the discussions with the Advisory Committee, there was also interest in pursuing an Accelerator on the science of team science.

NSF is still developing the process for how Convergence Accelerators would operate, but laid out an initial plan:

  • Ideas for new Convergence Accelerators tracks would come from NSF-supported researchers and research results; either organically or from focused workshops. 
  • Short proposals to develop new teams would be reviewed by NSF who would then select around 20 teams (in three to five specific tracks) to participate in an intense six-month team formation process.  NSF would provide small awards for the workshops and teams.
  • The team formation process would likely include a 1-week retreat.  The process would allow cohorts of teams to work together with support from NSF and external mentors. 
  • Following the team formation phase, teams would then be invited to pitch ideas to NSF to win awards of approximately $1-2 million per year.  At the end of the project, NSF could present a prize for the best outcome.

In addition to discussions of the Convergence Accelerator program, NSF program officers for the FW-HTF said that they were considering future solicitations on the risks and remedies associated with the technology-enabled workforce, which could include research on how emerging technologies are building new fields and ways to develop proper skillsets.  I-O researchers should prepare for forthcoming opportunities for research on the impact of automation on the economy and the future workforce.  Lewis-Burke will continue to provide information on this and other developments relevant to SIOP.

For more information about SIOP Advocacy efforts or to learn how you can get involved in government relations activities, please contact us directly at Alexander.Alonso@shrm.org or Bill@lewis-burke.com.

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