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

Jack Goodman and Alex Alonso


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.


SIOP Advocates for NSF Funding as Congress Considers Reauthorization

As Congress moves forward with the annual appropriations process to determine federal agency funding for the next fiscal year, SIOP has submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee with oversight of the National Science Foundation (NSF). In the testimony, SIOP urges the subcommittee to provide $10.2 billion in funding for NSF in fiscal year (FY) 2022, including strong support for the NSF Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE). Additionally, the testimony requests that the subcommittee include language in their accompanying report that encourages NSF to implement the science of team science in the agency’s funding strategies for large-scale and multidisciplinary research projects. SIOP also joined the broader science advocacy community in signing on to a letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) advocating for robust funding to NSF, raising SIOP’s profile and establishing it as an invested party in the science advocacy space.

In addition to determining annual funding, both the House of Representatives and the Senate have begun working on legislation to reauthorize the National Science Foundation (NSF) this year. Although differences remain in their respective legislative frameworks, both focus on broad themes of utilizing research and development to increase domestic competitiveness, making STEM education and careers more accessible to underrepresented groups, and creating a new directorate within NSF to focus on technology transfer. Of specific interest to I-O psychology, the House’s NSF for the Future Act directs NSF to ensure the participation of social, economic, and behavioral science researchers in cross-cutting programs and to award grants to study “the factors that influence growth, retention, and development of [the STEM] workforce.” The Senate’s NSF reauthorization bill, the Endless Frontier Act, includes a requirement that NSF and other agencies assess how federal support can be used to expand workforce development and employment systems, as well as strategies for upskilling workers. As Congress continues to work on reauthorizing NSF over the course of the year, Lewis-Burke will monitor for issues of relevance to I-O psychology.

Policing Outreach Continues as Congress Considers Reform Legislation

In the fall of 2020, House Democrats and Senate Republicans released draft policing bills that were accompanied by a series of executive orders from the Trump White House. Party leaders were unable to come to an agreement on the issue, leading both bills to fail. Now that Democrats control the House, Senate, and presidency, there is a renewed interest in policing-reform legislation. The House considered and passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act earlier this year. The Senate is still working on developing their policing bill, which is expected to be released in the coming weeks. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) are reportedly working on a bipartisan policing bill that they hope will be able to pass the Senate. SIOP established a working group of I-O experts in policing and has met with congressional staff of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and other congressional leaders in policing reform to provide I-O insight on issues such as recruitment, promotion, performance management, and diversity and inclusion, along with other I-O topics found in policing bills. The working group plans to continue engagement with Congress, the Biden administration, and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine as movement on policing reform progresses. An overview prepared by the working group with examples of how I-O can contribute to the conversation is available here.

Health and Well-Being Advocacy Area Holds
Introductory Meetings With Congressional Committees

The SIOP Health and Well-Being Advocacy Area held several introductory meetings with senior staff on the House Oversight and Reform Committee Government Operations Subcommittee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Government Operations and Border Management Subcommittee. The meetings focused on issues facing the federal workforce as employees begin to return to in-person work. Cris Banks, SIOP member and leader of the Healthcare Advocacy Area, discussed with staff how I-O psychology can help federal agencies lay out a comprehensive strategy as they begin returning to work after more than a year working remotely. The committees are considering drafting legislation that will instruct the federal government on how to return to in-person work, and staff were welcoming of SIOP’s expertise in this space. In addition, committee staff also asked about using I-O to better recruit and retain employees as part of the federal workforce. SIOP will continue to be a resource to congressional staff as committees begin considering various pieces of legislation relating to these issues.

SIOP Meets With NSF Education and Human Resources Directorate

Steve Kozlowski, SIOP Research and Science Portfolio Officer, and Richard Landers, SIOP Technology-Enabled Workforce Advocacy Area lead, met virtually with National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) agency officials, including Dr. Karen Marrongelle, NSF Assistant Director for EHR. During the call, Kozlowski and Landers discussed several areas of potential collaboration between EHR and SIOP members, including artificial intelligence impacts on the workforce, institutional change as a component of education reform, modifying undergraduate education curricula to meet emerging and future workforce needs, and how to better equip K–12 students with workplace experience and information needed to make career choices, among other topics. Dr. Marrongelle and other EHR officials emphasized that although EHR programs are not specifically focused on social science approaches, there are many opportunities within their programs for I-O psychologists to participate and potentially win research awards or host workshops and other convenings. Finally, the EHR participants encouraged interested SIOP members to reach out to an NSF program officer for relevant programs to discuss submitting a proposal related to these topics and receive feedback. If you believe your work could align with EHR priorities, email Jack at Lewis-Burke for more information: Jack@lewis-burke.com.

SIOP Advocacy on Workforce and Education Opportunities

In response to a request for stakeholder input, SIOP submitted a set of recommendations to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as they consider a reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and other workforce-focused legislation. SIOP’s evidence-based policy recommendations were developed with input from SIOP members and include proposals to include I-O psychologists on state workforce development boards, create best practices and other support resources for conducting skills-based needs assessments, and increasing thought diversity at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This action complemented a comment drafted by APA and SIOP to the same RFI on workforce disruptions due to COVID-19. SIOP will continue to engage with Congress as workforce-related legislation advances.

SIOP additionally engaged the U.S. Department of Education (ED) following the release of ED’s fiscal year (FY) 2021 Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) competition. The GAANN program provides funding to graduate education departments for the establishment of fellowships in certain in-demand fields of study identified by ED. For the first time, the FY 2021 GAANN competition included I-O psychology as an eligible field of study, underscoring the importance of and demand for I-O professionals. In response, Georgia Chao, in her role as SIOP president, sent a letter to Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper, ED Acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, thanking her for designating I-O psychology as an area of national need and offering SIOP as a future resource. This designation will be used by Lewis-Burke to advocate for the inclusion of I-O in other federal programs.

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 Jack Goodman at jack@lewis-burke.com.


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