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

Jill Bradley-Geist, University of Colorado Colorado Springs; 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.

Tax Reform Update: House Bill Passes,
Senate Bill Under Consideration

On November 16, the House of Representatives passed The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1), along party lines.  The Senate later moved their bill out of Committee and began debating the measure on November 30.  Senate Republican leadership is finalizing modifications to the legislation that were needed to secure the necessary 50 votes to pass the bill.  The Senate Republican leadership anticipates passing their bill late on December 1 and entering conference negotiations with the House the week of December 4.  Ultimately, Congress hopes to reach agreement on a final bill that can be sent to President Trump by the end of the year.  Of particular concern to SIOP is a proposal in the House bill that would result in increased tax liability for graduate students. 

Many doctoral students currently receive a tax-free tuition waiver or benefit as part of their graduate package under Section 117(d)(5) of the tax code.  If the House proposal is included in the final congressional tax package, it would repeal 117(d)(5) and make any waived tuition taxable, thus adding many thousands of dollars to an individual graduate student’s taxable income.  For some students, this could result in triple the tax liability and several thousands of dollars in additional payments to the IRS.  The Senate is currently debating its own version of tax reform, which does not contain the House provision, but it may be considered as part of the conference negotiations with the House on a final bill.

In response to concerns about tax reform’s impacts on graduate students, SIOP has joined other scientific societies in encouraging grassroots advocacy by members to urge congressional representatives to preserve graduate student tax benefit provisions.  For members who want to take action, the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) has put together helpful advocacy materials for outreach by graduate students.  The materials include a script for contacting members of Congress, contact information for member offices, sample tweets, and other resources.  As these bills are further considered, SIOP will seek additional opportunities to join with the scientific community on similar advocacy efforts on behalf of its membership.


Appropriations Update: Time Running Out to Fund Government

The current continuing resolution (CR) that has kept the federal government running since the start of the new fiscal year (FY) on October 1 is set to expire on December 8.  This deadline gives Congress little time to negotiate and pass new legislation approving FY 2018 spending.  With most of Congress’ attention directed towards tax reform, disaster relief, and other issues, it is increasingly likely that they will be forced to pass another short-term CR that maintains current FY 2017 funding levels to prevent a government shutdown.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had initially said that appropriators had set their sights on passing a catch-all spending measure, known as an “omnibus” appropriations bill, before the December holiday break, but public disputes between President Trump and Democratic leaders threaten to stall any negotiations.

The current Senate and House FY 2018 appropriations bills exceed self-imposed spending caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011.  Without changing or repealing the caps, any spending deal that exceeds them would trigger automatic cuts, also known as sequestration.  Republicans want to raise the caps to provide more money for discretionary defense spending, while Democrats will only agree to this if the caps are also lifted for nondefense discretionary spending.  Further complicating matters is the issue of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which Democratic leaders have indicated must be part of any FY 2018 budget deal to gain their support for the measure to pass.

On November 28, Minority Leader of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) chose not to attend a scheduled budget negotiation meeting at the White House because the proposed CR did not include a provision to protect “Dreamers” under the DACA program, and the president preemptively tweeted that the meeting likely wouldn't result in a deal to fund the government.  Republican leadership is now considering a strategy to implement a CR that would sustain government funding through December 22 and a second one to fund operations through January.  It is thought that the deadline before Christmas could put enough pressure on both Republicans and Democrats to agree on top-line budget numbers, and the second CR would allow lawmakers time to fill in the details and pass a final FY 2018 spending bill. 

In April, SIOP submitted written testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, and Science urging the Subcommittees to appropriate $8 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in fiscal year FY 2018.  The testimony also conveys the importance and applications of social and behavioral science research funded through the Foundation.  Lewis-Burke Associates LLC and SIOP will continue to monitor the situation and seek opportunities to engage on behalf of these and other crucial research programs as deliberations continue.

NSF Releases Solicitation for Cyberlearning for Work at the Human–Technology Frontier Program

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently published a solicitation for the Cyberlearning for Work at the Human–Technology Frontier program, which aims to advance innovative technologies that facilitate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and reeducation for those entering an increasingly technological workforce.  This solicitation is a revised version of the Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies program and advances the agency’s Work at the Human–Technology Frontier Big Idea, which will guide forthcoming NSF investments.  This is also an ideal opportunity for I-O experts to ensure that the science is incorporated into future training programs for a more technologically integrated workforce. 

This interdisciplinary program integrates education and learning sciences, computer and information science and engineering, and cognitive and behavioral sciences in pursuit of experimental cyberlearning technologies.  The solicitation includes the directorates for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE); Education and Human Resources (EHR); Engineering (ENG); and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE).

Projects should demonstrate innovations in both technology and learning and should address the following:

  • “Design and develop future learning environments to educate or reeducate workers for new work environments and experiences in collaboration with advanced technology;
  • Develop relevant formal and informal learning experiences as well as just-in-time training on the job;
  • Support the needs of diverse workers from a broad set of backgrounds and experiences; and
  • Support the future work of teachers in classrooms and other related settings.”

NSF anticipates making $15 million available for approximately 20 awards, with individual awards of up to $750,000 over a maximum of 3 years.  No cost share is required.  The submission deadline for full proposals is January 8, 2018 and then annually on the second Monday in January.


SIOP Members Spotlight: Veterans

Adam Kabins

In our current TIP feature of SIOP members engaging in government advocacy work, Adam Kabins discusses advocacy initiatives to support veterans. 

In continuation of SIOP’s partnership with Lewis Burke Associates, the Government Relations Advocacy Team (GREAT) has defined one of its key advocacy areas for 2018: supporting veterans transition. Specifically, over 200,000 veterans transition out of the military and into the civilian workforce each year with associated challenges. Although veteran unemployment has continued to decline, many veterans still face issues as they exit the military and enter civilian life. These issues can range from difficulty in translating the KSAOs acquired during the military into meaningful civilian competencies to integrating in a work culture that clashes radically with deep-seated military ideology and approach.

Likewise, numerous government, military, and private organizations have attempted to provide solutions to some of these issues. SIOP recognizes that IO psychologists are uniquely positioned to help support effective veteran transition programs. This includes translating complex military assignments into meaningful work characteristics to support better veteran employment, coaching veterans to have a more strategic viewpoint on their career goals, training recruiters and hiring managers to better understand military experience, as well as helping organizations improve their selection processes so that it is not unfairly biased against veterans.

To those efforts, the GREAT committee has solicited the help of veteran researchers and practitioners to create a Veteran Transition subcommittee dedicated to: (a) advocating for I-O psychologists’ involvement in support of these efforts and (b) creating a forum to discuss research streams and practical solutions to veteran transition problems to be acted upon and implemented through the advocacy team. The subcommittee has released a statement that describes the role that I-O psychology can have in supporting veteran issues.

The subcommittee is led by Dr. Adam Kabins who leads the prehire selection consulting in North America for Korn Ferry. In addition to presenting on veteran’s issues at past SIOP conferences, Adam has presented to the Department of Defense on similar topics as well as supports the Leveraging Military Leadership Program (LMLP) at Korn Ferry. The LMLP provides pro bono career coaching and management guidance for veterans who recently exited the military as well as proprietary services for organizations looking to become a veteran hiring destination.

The Veteran Transition subcommittee is an eclectic group of individuals spanning all areas of I-O psychology: external consulting, internal consulting, research, and military:

  • Dr. Julia Bayless: Julia is the director of Talent Assessment at Capital One, focusing on identifying top talent through robust and innovative solutions across the Capital One enterprise.  Capital One has a host of veteran and veteran family initiatives related to joining the organization for well-matched employment opportunities as well as providing support for veterans and their families while on active duty.
  • Dr. Meredith Kleykamp: Meredith is an associate professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland and director of the Center for Research on Military Organization. Her research examines the connections between the labor market and three specific institutions: the military, prison, and unions. She has a particular interest in elucidating the mechanisms underlying differences between civilians and veterans, and how the societal context of reception of military veterans shapes their transition from military to civilian life.
  • Dr. Peter J. Reiley: Peter is the cofounder and vice chairman of the board of directors for the Foundation for VETS (Veteran Employment Transition Support), a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity supporting military veterans through research and evidence-based practice. He is also an active-duty Air Force officer with over 20 years of military service and currently serves as director of Personnel & Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
  • Dr. Christopher Stone: Christopher is an assistant professor of Management and associate department chair in the School of Business at Emporia State University. After serving 8 years in the United States Air Force, he became interested in how the veteran label affected professional pursuits in civilian life. His work includes researching how stereotypes of veterans are used in employment selection and identifying the barriers veterans face in the pursuit of higher education. 



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