House Defeats Attempt to De-Fund
Selected NIH Grants, Senate Debate Expected in September
On July 10, 2003, during debate on the appropriations bill
to fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education
(LHHS), the House of Representatives narrowly defeated an amendment
offered by Rep. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) to defund five NIH grants on sexual
behavior. The vote was a close 210-212.
APA and other behavioral science and public health
organizations worked tirelessly to get out information about the amendment
and persuade House members to vote no. The APA Public Policy Office sent
out two electronic action alerts to SPIN readers and the Public
Policy Advocacy Network (PPAN) to let psychologists know about the
dangerous amendment, and many responded by emailing or calling their
member of Congress.
Appropriations LHHS Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula
(R-OH), Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Bill Young (R-FL), Rep. Randy
Cunningham (R-CA-50) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-8-MI) spoke against the
amendment on the House floor. Ranking minority member David Obey (D-7-WI)
and APA member Rep. Brian Baird (D-3-WA) both eloquently defended the
funded research and the peer review process.
Rumors abounded that a similar amendment would be offered
the following week during the Senate debate on the LHHS spending bill and
another alert was sent. However, due to prolonged debate on other
legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security, the Senate will
not be bringing the bill to the floor until after the congressional August
recess. Public Policy staff will continue to work the congressional staff
to educate them on the importance of sexual health and behavior research
and may again ask for our members to engage in some advocacy efforts.
about the issue, including summaries of the targeted grants, the House
floor debate and how members of Congress voted.
House Passes Labor-HHS Spending bill -- No Senate
On July 10, the House of Representatives passed
legislation to fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services
and Education for the 2004 fiscal year (which begins October 1, 2003). The
narrow vote on the bill's final passage (215-208) reflected the fact that
not a single Democratic House member voted in favor. Despite the
excitement generated by the Toomey amendment, funding for NIH was not the
real controversy-- funding for education programs was. Democrats argued
that the bill underfunded federal programs for education by as much as $8
The House bill contained $27.66 billion for NIH, an
increase of approximately 2 percent. The House appropriations committee
leadership pointed out that the increase for NIH research would actually
come closer to 7 percent because of various accounting maneuvers.
The Senate bill was expected to come to the floor shortly
on the heels of the House bill, but now it appears the bill may not be
debated until after the August recess. The Senate bill provides a larger
increase for NIH, $27.98 billion total.
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APA Comments on Homeland Security
While finalizing the details of our Science of Deception
Workshop, science policy staff became aware of a Senate bill entitled the
"Homeland Security Federal Workforce Act" (S.589). Among other
things, the bill seeks to strengthen and improve the management of
national security, encourage government service in areas of critical
national security, and assist government agencies in addressing
deficiencies in personnel possessing specialized skills important to
national security. The bill also seeks to incorporate the goals and
strategies for recruitment and retention for such skilled personnel into
the strategic and performance management systems of Federal agencies.
Although the bill provides for the award of science fellowships through
the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), it explicitly excludes
"social science" from the definition of science in determining
which fields of study qualify for the award.
On July 10th, APA joined the Consortium of Social Science
Associations in endorsing letters of inquiry to the bill's sponsor,
Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and other co-sponsors. We have not yet
received any response, but will follow the issue closely as the bill moves
closer to a vote on the Senate floor.
Coincidentally, the first round of Undergraduate
Scholarships and Graduate Fellowships awarded through the Science and
Technology Directorate of DHS will be announced at the end of this month.
It remains to be seen how well the social sciences will fair in that
competition, but we will report back in a future issue of SPIN.
In a related development, DHS announced the first
solicitation for "university-based homeland-security centers,"
focusing on risk-based modeling to better understand the impact and
consequences of terrorism.
the "Homeland Security Federal Workforce Act" (S.589) [pdf].
the letter of inquiry to Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) on S. 589.
the announcement on "university-baed homeland-security centers"
from the Department of Homeland Security [pdf].
APA and COSSA Co-Sponsor Congressional
Briefing on Educational Performance Gaps
On July 17th, APA co-sponsored a congressional briefing
for Hill staffers with the Consortium of Social Science Associations
(COSSA) entitled, "Enhancing Educational Performance: Social,
Motivational and Cultural Factors." Two of the three speakers were
APA members - Rebecca Marcon from the University of North Florida and
Patricia O'Reilly from the University of Cincinnati. Their presentations
highlighted research findings and provided policy or programmatic
recommendations for improving student academic performance. Marcon
discussed differential factors affecting young children's educational
achievement in Washington, D.C. schools, and O'Reilly gave a broad-based
talk on the particular needs of young adolescent girls in the educational
system. The final speaker, Harvard economist Ronald Ferguson, presented
data from his Tripod Project, which focuses on understanding and
addressing racial disparities in educational motivation and achievement.
More than 60 people attended the briefing in the House
Science Committee hearing room, including staffers from the offices of
Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), John Kerry (D-MA), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT),
and Ted Stevens (R-AK); Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Rick Boucher
(D-VA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Sheila Jackson
Lee (D-TX), Diane Watson (D-CA), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA); Delegate Donna
Christensen (D-VI); federal agencies including the Department of Education
and the National Science Foundation; and outside groups including the
National Education Association.
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APA Works with CIA and RAND to
Hold Science of Deception Workshop
On July 17-18, RAND Corp. and the APA hosted a workshop
entitled the "Science of Deception: Integration of Practice and
Theory" with generous funding from the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA). The workshop provided an opportunity to bring together individuals
with a need to understand and use deception in the service of national
defense/security with those who investigate the phenomena and mechanisms
of deception. Meeting at RAND headquarters in Arlington, VA, the workshop
drew together approximately 40 individuals including research
psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists who study various aspects of
deception and representatives from the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense
with interests in intelligence operations. In addition, representatives
from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the
Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security
were present. Following brief introductions and welcoming remarks from
Kevin O'Connell, Director of the Intelligence Policy Center within RAND's
National Security Research Division, workshop participants divided into
break-out groups to discuss thematic scenarios following a format used in
a previous conference on counterterrorism held at the FBI Academy in
The scenarios dealt broadly with issues such as embassy
walk-in informants, threat assessment, intelligence gathering, and law
enforcement interrogation and debriefing. Participants were prompted in
advance to think about research issues and practical considerations they
wanted the broader group to consider. Across the two days, there were a
number of thought-provoking discussions suggesting the need to develop
both short-term and long-term research programs on deception. Workshop
participants will review transcripts from the meeting toward the goal of
developing a more detailed summary suitable for public consumption.
My profound thanks to both Scott Gerwehr, Associate Policy
Analyst at RAND, and Susan Brandon, Program Officer for Affect and
Biobehavioral Regulation at NIMH, who jointly conceived of this project
while Susan was still Senior Scientist here at APA. Special thanks to Kirk
Hubbard, Chief of the Research & Analysis Branch, Operational
Assessment Division of the CIA, for generous financial support and for
recruiting the operational expertise and to RAND for providing conference
facilities and other logistical support.
the thematic scenarios
from the workshop.
the FBI's 2002 report on counterterrorism.
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APA Monitoring Veterans Administration
In recent months, the Veterans Administration has welcomed
a new Chief of Research and Development and faced increased scrutiny from
the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the Government Accounting
Office regarding human subject protections and research office
reorganizations. PPO staff are closely watching the activities of both the
new Chief and Members of Congress in order to represent the needs and
interests of psychological researchers at the VA.
APA is active in the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health
Research coalition (FOVA), working with other science associations and
veterans groups to craft annual funding recommendations for Congress and
meeting with Hill staffers regarding the VA research budget. FOVA invited
Dr. Nelda Wray, the new VA Chief of R&D, to meet with the coalition in
June for a discussion of her decision to "de-fund" some
peer-reviewed research projects and her plans to reorganize and revitalize
the VA research process. Wray reiterated her strong support for the peer
review process, but also noted that grant seekers will have to show strong
evidence of not only scientific merit but previous publishing prowess as
she moves to incorporate new standards for peer review panels to consider.
Wray's focus will be on more successfully and quickly getting bench
research through the translational stage to implementation within the VA
system. Her management recommendations include adding science advisors in
the field and program managers similar to those at NIH and NSF, markedly
increasing funding for and mentoring of young scientists, and developing
clinical research centers of excellence and centers for the study of
organizational and leadership issues. APA plans to bring in a group of VA
psychologists to meet with Dr. Wray early in the fall.
On Capitol Hill, VA research is a hot legislative topic.
Two subcommittees of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, the
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Steve Buyer
(R-IN), and the Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT)
have held hearings this summer on human subjects and research protections
within the VA. The hearings arose in the context of a VA research
"stand down" this spring (the result of research misconduct
allegations), a planned reorganization of the VA Office of Research
Oversight (to replace the defunct Office of Research Compliance and
Assurance), and renewed attention to "credentialling" of federal
research employees (basically background checks mandated by federal law)
and accreditation of IRBs. Rep. Buyer has introduced a bill (H.R. 1585) to
"ensure the ethical treatment and safety of research subjects"
and grant the Office of Research Oversight more independence within the
VA. APA will continue to keep our members apprised of new merit review
criteria and revised research goals at the VA, as well as congressional
the text of H.R. 1585 [pdf].
APA Pays Visit to NICHD Director Duane Alexander
On July 24th, APA CEO Norman Anderson, Science Directorate
Associate Director Merry Bullock, and PPO staff Karen Studwell met with
Duane Alexander, MD, Director of the National Institute of Child Health
and Human Development (NICHD) to discuss the behavioral research portfolio
at NICHD and some NIH issues that have recently been of concern to APA.
Dr. Alexander first thanked APA and its members for their advocacy efforts
to defeat the amendment offered in the House of Representatives that would
have removed funding from several NICHD grants involving sexual and
demographic research. He indicated that NIH is working on follow up
materials to further educate members of Congress about the importance of
sexual health research and that NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, MD, has been
very supportive of the research as well.
Other items of discussion included the need for greater
representation of behavioral science in the NIH Roadmap, which
we have reported on in previously in SPIN. Dr. Alexander, who
co-chaired the Roadmap working group on the clinical research workforce,
indicated that behavioral research training was included into their
initiatives. He noted that one new emphasis will be on training broad
multidisciplinary research teams. He also said that the working group is
working on addressing ways to standardize and streamline federal
regulations governing research so that all research comes under a single
policy. This will include standardization of required paperwork and
example-based guidance to the regulations.
Dr. Alexander encouraged psychological researchers to take
advantage of the current friendly climate for research on prevention; in
particular, childhood obesity. As physical activity and eating behaviors
are directly linked to the rise in obesity, it represents an opportunity
for behavioral approaches in multidisciplinary efforts contribute to new
knowledge and interventions, targeted directly to children.
photograph of Dr. Alexander with Norman Anderson and Merry Bullock.
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New NIH Directors to Present at Convention
For those of you headed to Toronto for the convention,
there will be a joint session featuring Thomas Insel, MD, Director of the
National Institute of Mental Health, Nora Volkow, PhD, Director of the
National Institute on Drug Abuse, and T.K. Li, MD, Director of the
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The session is
scheduled on Friday, August 8th at 10:00 a.m. and being chaired by APA CEO
information about the APA Convention.
If you have any questions regarding SPIN or specific
science policy issues, please feel free to contact any of APA’s Science
Mumford, Ph.D.,, Director of Science Policy
Kobor, Senior Science Policy Analyst
O'Beirne Kelly, Ph.D., Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer
Studwell, J.D., Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer
Robinson, Legislative Assistant