Public Policy Briefs

Federal and Legislative Update for the Behavioral Sciences


APA Exhibits at DoD Hill Reception

APA joined 16 research-intensive universities at a May 22 reception and exhibit featuring university research sponsored by the Department of Defense (DoD). The Capitol Hill event was organized to showcase the contributions of university research to addressing national security needs and was designed to educate members of Congress and their staff about the merits of DoD support for basic research.

Stephen Kosslyn, PhD, of the Harvard University Psychology Department, represented psychological science at this event. The APA exhibit featured Dr. Kosslyn's research sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). The exhibit, 'DoD's State-of-the-Art Technology: The Role of Psychological Research in Visual Perception and Decision Making in a Complex Environment,' depicted how Dr. Kosslyn's research is used by the military. For example, his ONR research on perception and visual-spatial abilities led to the construction of tasks that can weed out those who will not succeed as pilots. This screening, performed before training begins, could save the military a considerable amount of money, as wash-out rates during flight training are high.

This was the second Hill event that APA has participated in to inform the 104th Congress about the value of federally supported psychological research. The first, described in the last issue of Psychological Science Agenda, focused on research supported by the National Science Foundation.

Search for NIMH Director Reopened

Following a long and unsuccessful effort, the search for a permanent director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is being readvertised, with applications due by the end of August.

According to Harold Varmus, MD, Director of the National Institutes of Health, he is now modifying the composition of the search committee in an attempt to identify a new group of candidates who did not surface in previous efforts. Dr. Varmus hopes to find the 'leader for the next 10 years' for NIMH, and in order to do so, the search committee may need to look at less prominent scientists with strong potential for leadership and breadth of expertise.

NIMH has been without a permanent director since Frederick Goodwin, MD, left for George Washington University last April. Rex Cowdry, MD, has served as the Acting Director of NIMH since that time.

Kenji Hakuta Appointed to First OERI Research Policy and Priorities Board

Education Secretary Richard W. Riley named Kenji Hakuta, PhD, APA Member and Professor of Education at Stanford University, to be Cochair of the new 15-member National Educational Research Policy and Priorities Board. The Board was established with bipartisan support as part of the Educational Research, Development, Dissemination, and Improvement Act of 1994 to develop a long-term research agenda and to set priorities for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI). Board Members will serve 6-year terms with initial appointments randomly staggered.

Dr. Hakuta, an experimental psychologist, has conducted research on first- and second-language acquisition, cognitive development, and bilingualism. He is currently studying the adjustment patterns of Latino students with different immigration histories. Most recently he chaired the Stanford Working Group on Federal Education Programs for Limited-English Proficient Students, which issues recommendations for Goals 2000. As Cochair of the National Educational Research Policy and Priorities Board, Dr. Hakuta will play a significant role in the future of educational research in America.

APA President Testifies on DoD Budget Request

Robert J. Resnick, PhD, APA President, testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on National Defense on May 16. Dr. Resnick presented a strong case for continued Department of Defense (DoD) support for psychological research in the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), and the Army Research Institute (ARI). APA's testimony supported the FY 1996 request for ONR and AFOSR, but urged an increase for ARI, which faces another decrease in funds for basic research in FY 1996. Last year, Congress eliminated $200 million from DoD-sponsored university research. APA, along with the Association of American Universities (AAU), has been working to convince Congress of the value of this research and its contributions to meeting national security needs.

Kurt Salzinger Testifies on NSF and EPA Appropriations

Kurt Salzinger, PhD, member of APA's Board of Directors, testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies on April 5. Dr. Salzinger's testimony focused on the FY 1996 budget request for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Congressional Fellows Selected for 1995-1996

APA is pleased to announce the selection of the 1995-1996 APA Congressional Fellows. Each fellow will serve a 1-year appointment, beginning September 1995, as a special legislative assistant on the staff of a member of Congress or Congressional Committee. The new Congressional Fellows are Steven Greene, PhD, Assistant Professor, Princeton University; Michael Stevenson, PhD, Associate Professor, Ball State University; Janette Benson, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Denver; Alan Omoto, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Kansas; and David Nickelson, who holds a JD/PsyD. Also serving as a Fellow will be Margy Heldring, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Seattle. First selected as a 1994-1995 Fellow, Dr. Heldring deferred her fellowship due to a run for political office.

Dr. Omoto will serve as the first-ever William A. Bailey AIDS Policy Congressional Fellow. The Bailey Fellowship, jointly funded by the American Psychological Foundation (APF) and APA, was established to honor the contributions of APA staffer Bill Bailey to national AIDS/HIV and gay and lesbian policy issues. Bailey died in April 1994 from complications due to AIDS.

Dr. Benson's fellowship is funded through the Esther Katz Rosen Fund, which is dedicated to the advancement and application of knowledge about gifted children. The Fund is administered by APF.

For additional information about the Congressional Fellowship Program, contact Andrea L. Solarz, PhD, at (202) 336-6067; or via e-mail at azs.apa@email.apa.org.

APA Science Policy Fellow Extends Fellowship

The current APA Science Policy Fellow, Karen Kovacs, PhD, has been asked by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to extend her fellowship for another year. Dr. Kovacs, the first APA Science Policy Fellow, has been at OSTP since September 1994. Her extension will run through August 1996.

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