Population Scientists “Log On” to Talk Data, Funding, and Research

On February 28, a delegation of officers and invited members of the Population Association of America and Association of Population Centers representing a dozen states met with 32 offices in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to share examples of federally supported population research activities and findings and to express support for funding key agencies that directly and indirectly support the population sciences.

For the second year in a row, PAA and APC met virtually with congressional staff whose bosses serve on key committees that are responsible for funding federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Health Statistics, Census Bureau, and National Science Foundation, or are responsible for conducting oversight of these agencies. In addition, the delegation met with staff who work for three of the four members who chair the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Social Determinants of Health–Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK), and Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). During these meetings, the delegation discussed contributions that population scientists are making to further understanding of how social determinants of health have created very large health disparities in our country, including those by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and geography of residence, and to explore ways in which PAA and APC can support the work of this relatively new Caucus.

Another major focus of this year’s Virtual Advocacy Day was to meet with select members on the House Science Committee and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to discuss our interests in legislation that Congress is considering to reauthorize the National Science Foundation (NSF). These meetings were an excellent opportunity to reinforce the instrumental, unique role that the NSF Social, Behavioral, Economic (SBE) Directorate plays in supporting social and behavioral sciences overall and to encourage legislation that will stimulate enhanced collaboration between SBE and the other NSF Directorates.

During the Virtual Advocacy Day, participants urged congressional offices to complete the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 appropriations process and discussed how the delayed start of FY 2022 has compelled scientists to suspend survey research and precluded their ability to recruit survey participants, gather data, and hire graduate students and administrative staff. Participants also shared PAA and APC’s funding priorities and requests for FY 2023.

The annual advocacy day is excellent opportunity to thank supporters on Capitol Hill and to inform other offices about the important research population scientists are conducting with support from federal scientific research and statistical agencies. The materials that the participants distributed on Capitol Hill are posted on the PAA website.