Public Policy Briefs

Federal and Legislative Update for the Behavioral Sciences

Educational Research Funding Fares Better Than Expected....So Far

A rollercoaster ride pales in comparison to the ups and downs faced by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) during consideration of its FY 1996 funding. Early this summer, the GOP-controlled House made good on its promise to reduce drastically the federal role in education by cutting $3.9 billion (16%) in funding for education programs in its FY 1996 appropriations bill. Many of the programs administered by OERI were either eliminated (e.g., the Eisenhower Professional Development Program) or dramatically reduced (e.g., the Technology for Education Program).

Furthermore, the House transferred additional responsibility for education research to OERI, which will cost the Office approximately $200 million, but provided OERI an increase of only $15 million. The research programs that the House suggested could be funded through OERI include special education research programs, school-to-work national programs, safe and drug-free schools national programs, vocational education research programs, and adult education research programs. Essentially, the House action resulted in a 41% cut in education research and development.

The Senate Appropriations Committee's bill, approved in September, restored the education research programs to their original place in the Department of Education and gave OERI research a modest inflationary increase over FY 1995. Considering the proposed cuts and reorganization for the Department of Education, OERI research fared well. This is especially true because the FY 1995 Rescission Bill did not include a cut in funds for OERI research--as it did for many other education programs.

The real work--convincing the House to accept both the Senate numbers and the Senate language--begins this fall. APA will continue in its efforts to advocate for the Senate's version of the FY 1996 appropriations bill. For more information, contact Nina Levitt, EdD, in the Public Policy Office.

Update on Family Privacy Protection Act

As Psychological Science Agenda goes to press, the fate of a bill detrimental to federally funded behavioral research involving minors is still undetermined. The Family Privacy Protection Act, which is pending in the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, would require written parental consent for any federally funded survey containing questions on controversial subjects. APA has argued that this legislation would cause the cost of conducting surveys to escalate so much that surveys would no longer be a feasible means of data collection.

One reason that the bill is still pending is that the former Chair of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, Sen. William Roth (R-DE), has taken the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee, following the resignation of Sen. Robert Packwood (R-OR). The new Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee is Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK). Although it is too early to tell whether Chairman Stevens will adopt a different agenda than his predecessor, it is likely that the chnge in committee leadership will bring a re-examination of some of the issues before the Committee.

APA, together with a coalition of science and health organizations called the Research and Privacy Coalition, has worked to develop a legislative alternative to the Family Privacy Protection Act. The language produced by the Coalition may be introduced as a separate bill in the Senate or used as a substitute amendment when the Act is considered by the Governmental Affairs Committee. The alternative language would retain for Institutional Review Boards the role of determining whether written parental consent should be required to protect minor subjects in survey research; however, it would require that parents be notified, informed about the survey, and given an opportunity to decline their child's participation in any survey.

Anne Petersen Meets With Psychologists at APA Convention

Anne Petersen, PhD, NSF Deputy Director, met with a small group of psychologists at the 1995 APA Annual Convention in New York for an informal discussion on NSF's support for behavioral science. The meeting, which was arranged by the Science Directorate and Public Policy Office, focused on several issues of importance to research psychologists: NSF support for the Human Capital Initiative (HCI) in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate; the use of results from psychological research in the programs of the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate; and the efforts of the Chair of the House Science Committee to eliminate SBE.

Dr. Petersen reassured the group that NSF supports the behavioral and social sciences and also HCI. Of great importance, she said, is to keep open the channels of communication between her office, APA, and other scientific organizations. Dr. Petersen invited APA staff to keep her alert to issues of interest to research psychologists.

In addition to APA staff at the meeting, APA members participating included Linda Bartoshuk, PhD, John Cacioppo, PhD, Michael Domjam, PhD, Judith Goggin, PhD, Neal Johnson, PhD, Lynn Liben, PhD, and Kurt Salzinger, PhD (APA Board of Directors).

APA Recommends NIMH Research Priorities

As part of an initiative to advance research on children's mental health, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has requested APA's advice and recommendations. APA was asked to 'identify specific research findings that have not been adequately communicated to the broader public" and to "delineate the highest priority research areas over the next 5 years."

APA recommended that the information disseminated to the public highlight research findings on prevention initiatives, destigmatization of mental disorders, treatment of specific disorders, and the effects of child maltreatment, acts of violence, and natural disasters on children and adolescents. Recommendations were made in three areas: basic research (e.g., the effects of substance exposure, both pre- and postnatal); clinical research (e.g., programmatic treatment research and outcome studies on various therapeutic approaches); and systems research (e.g., the impact of financing structures on the type and quality of mental health services rendered to children and adolescents). These recommendations were based on comments made by many APA members with expertise in the areas of developmental, clinical-child, and pediatric psychology.

APA presented its recommendations to NIMH at a consultation meeting on September 20, 1995. This meeting provided APA with the opportunity to address NIMH's ongoing implementation of the National Plan for Research on Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders.

For more information, contact Pat Kobor in the Public Policy Office.

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