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April 15, 2002
Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Research and Development Colloquium on April 11th, John Marburger, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and presidential science adviser, proclaimed “the importance of the social sciences.” He told the audience of 300 university administrators, science policy advocates, and analysts, that “the social sciences in general have much more to offer on the difficult problems of our time than we are currently acknowledging.”
Since, like the other sciences, “social science also possesses the three tiers of infrastructure, discovery science, and issue-driven science,” Marburger wondered “why we have failed in the past to develop and use the social sciences more effectively as a tool for public policy.” He suggested that one reason might be “that the social sciences suffer from treating issues that are so familiar as to breed contempt.”
The President’s science adviser said there are a number of areas where the social sciences can be useful. “Management and evaluation are activities that can be studied objectively and improved systematically with the tools of social science,” he stated. In addition, Marburger argued that “no issue deserves more attention from the social sciences than that of the future of the technology workforce.” This is particularly important when “the market for intellectual talent has been a global one for many years,” and current national security and national economic competitiveness concerns may make it difficult to continue to attract and retain the foreign students and workers who make up much of the U.S. technology workforce.
Marburger also declared: “We are not yet systematically including the social sciences in the mobilization for the war against terrorism, and this needs to be done.” He did acknowledge the input offered by social scientists that “provided structure and dimension” to the National Academies meeting on terrorism last September. He also suggested that “the deep and serious problem of homeland security is not one of science, it is one of implementation.”
Although many, including those at the National Science Foundation appropriation hearing (see page three), believe that technology will solve the terrorist problem, other speakers at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting picked up the idea of more fully integrating the social sciences into the effort against terrorism. M.R.C. Greenwood, Chancellor of the University of California at Santa Cruz, in her William D. Carey lecture, noted the “complex social and cultural struggles” that must be understood in this “interconnected world.” Lewis Branscomb, Co-Chair of the National Academies Committee on Responses to Terrorism (whose report will be released in early June), speaking on a panel entitled “Science and Technology’s Role in the War on Terrorism and Homeland Defense,” declared: “We have to pay attention to what the social sciences and humanities have to tell us.” We also need, he added, to better mine databases and explicate human factors decision systems.
Baruch Fischoff, Professor of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University and who also participated in the panel, presented his research results regarding the assessment and communication of risk and their application to terrorism situations. He reminded the audience that people react to these events with preset traits that include: their current beliefs and how they affect future understanding; their limited cognitive capacity to understand everything that is being communicated; their emotions which confound and support understanding risk; and their sometimes unsure notions of what they really want.
Reporting on the results of an immediate post-September 11 study, Fischoff suggested that the people who were most angry about the attacks tended to be the most optimistic about the future. He also noted that women expressed less anger and experienced higher degrees of uncertainty.
NRC Roundtable on Terrorism
Fischoff was also a participant in the National Research Council’s (NRC) “Roundtable on Social and Behavioral Sciences and Terrorism” held in mid-March. The Roundtable was sponsored by the NRC’s Committee on Law and Justice and co-chaired by Michael Chertoff, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, and Phillip Heymann, former Deputy Attorney General and now a Professor of Law and Government at Harvard. The session brought together government officials and researchers for a day of discussion.
The Roundtable included an historical perspective on terrorism by Martha Crenshaw, a Wesleyan University political scientist. Crenshaw and her colleagues have compiled lists that suggest terrorism has a long history and from the terrorists’ perspective is “a reasoned response to their perceptions of the world.” She suggested September 11 was a culmination of a process that has included many incidents in the past 50 years. After reviewing these, Crenshaw concluded that the big question on the table is how do democracies cope in the face of these seemingly endless attacks?
Although the Roundtable did not exactly answer the question, the dialogue focused on a number of research issues. For example, Fischoff discussed how adolescents, whom are often recruited into these terrorist organizations, make decisions. Dan Nagin, also of Carnegie Mellon and a member of the National Consortium on Violence Research, focused on learning about people’s willingness to use violence. Chertoff expressed concern about what is deterrence when you are confronted with suicide bombers. Robert Groves, Director of the Survey Research Center at Michigan, argued for more event driven analysis and better data collection. Crenshaw noted that much of what we know about terrorists is anecdotal and qualitative.
Richard Nakamura, Acting Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, noted that globalization has fostered situations where actors can mobilize without states and argued further that it is necessary to stigmatize suicide and make it socially inappropriate. Heymann wanted to know more about the effectiveness of social controls and norms vs. sanctions. Thomas Schelling, an economist from the University of Maryland and a member of the National Academies counter-terrorism panel, asked for more scenario building and gaming of possible future terrorist situations. (A recent session held at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia that involved psychologists, political scientists, FBI Behavioral Science officials, and other law enforcement personnel did take up Schelling’s suggestion.) Philip Rubin noted that the National Science Foundation’s long-term funding for basic research on responses to extreme events, corpus linguistics, and geographic information systems will aid the anti-terrorist efforts.
Heymann summarized the discussion by suggesting that a number of issues remained on the table for further discussion. These included: the state vs. individual; terrorist organizational goals; cultural differences; information gathering; motivation and root causes; and preventing attacks by identifying targets, protecting targets, or by taking preemptive action against potential attackers. Furthermore, examining the human dimensions of prevention, such as airport security, the infrastructure of knowledge gathering and conveyance, the tradeoffs necessary in the U.S. confrontation of the terrorists, and consequences management, both the physical and psychological dimensions, are all worthy of continuing attention, Heymann concluded.
The Roundtable hopes to meet again soon.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) had the annual defense of its proposed budget before the House VA, HUD, Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee on April 11. Panel Chairman James Walsh (R-NY) noted that the Administration’s FY 2003 budget for NSF includes a proposed 4.7 percent increase. He pointed out, however, that if you remove the programs slated for transfer from other agencies, the increase is closer to three percent. Even though this tripled last year’s proposed one percent increase, which Congress eventually boosted to eight percent, Walsh said that the FY 2003 budget enhancement was still “meager.” The Subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) dubbed the proposed increase “disappointing.”
Walsh also indicated that he was upset that the proposed budget cut “core” programs, particularly in the physical sciences, which he credited with developing the technology that was helping the U.S. win the war on terrorism.
NSF Director Rita Colwell defended the Administration’s proposal, indicating that it met the priorities the Foundation identified. These included nanotechnology, information technology, biocomplexity in the environment, learning in the 21st Century, mathematics and statistics, and the $10 million seed funding for the social, behavioral, and economic sciences. (See Update, March 4, 2002) National Science Board Chairman Eamon Kelly, former president of Tulane University, echoed Colwell’s defense, but voiced his strong opinion that “we are seriously under-investing in basic research.”
Both the NSF witnesses and the members of Congress continued to make the case that advances in the medical sciences, that have spawned the large budget increases for the National Institutes of Health, are underpinned by basic research in the non-biomedical sciences, particularly the physical sciences and engineering. Therefore, the basic research supported by NSF needs similar boosts.
Rep. David Price (D-NC) took note of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) efforts to tie budgeting to performance. He suggested the difficulty in determining funding levels for basic research based on performance measures, given the long time frame sometimes necessary to achieve payoffs from these studies. Colwell indicated that NSF, with OMB’s encouragement, will hold a workshop in mid-May to explore the development of “reasonable measures” for basic research. And she noted that the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy has also been wrestling with this question. Kelly added that the difficulty Price pointed out goes hand-in-hand with the inadequacy of the data measuring the output of basic research.
Walsh also seemed concerned that the NSF’s instrumentation program was being cut to free up funds for the new Science of Learning Centers. Colwell responded that instrumentation was important, but these proposed interdisciplinary, multi-campus centers, that will investigate how people learn, had a higher priority.
The Subcommittee hopes to mark up its FY 2003 bill, which includes funding not only for NSF, but for the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, by mid-May. This could be delayed depending on how soon the Appropriations Committee makes its allocations to the thirteen Subcommittees.
Last Thursday, four prominent political scientists joined an assemblage of government officials as witnesses before a Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on proposed legislation creating a Federal Department of National Homeland Security. The measure is co-sponsored by Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA).
Lieberman used his opening statement to give some background on the bill. It would create the Department as a Cabinet-level agency, headed by a secretary of homeland security to be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. This individual would also sit on the National Security Council. The Coast Guard, the Border Patrol, the Customs Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be the key entities moved into the department.
Testimony at the hearing was divided among four panels. The first featured six members of Congress who have been instrumental in pushing the Lieberman-Specter bill or other related legislation. The members sounded a common theme in their testimony: too much time has passed since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, and it’s time to get moving on the creation of a Federal agency that can coordinate the protection of our homeland. Only Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) among the panelists struck a different chord – he favors a department focused solely on border security.
The next two panels featured testimony from three government officials – former Senator Warren Rudman (R-NH), who is currently Co-Chair of the U.S. Commission on National Security, U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, and Mitch Daniels, Director of the Office of Management and Budget. To no one’s surprise, Rudman and Walker both argued forcefully for the creation of a statutorily-based homeland security (HS) structure.
Daniels, however, raised some eyebrows by stating that the Bush Administration is “open to the question” of forming an independent department with such a mission. Tom Ridge, who was appointed to lead the newly-created White House HS Office last fall, has stated on many occasions that he doesn’t need statutory authority to carry out his mission. As a former governor and member of Congress (R-PA), Ridge has the close ear of the President, and the White House has often suggested that the formation of a HS department is unnecessary. While it’s unclear how negotiations between Congress and the Administration will progress, it is likely that the two sides will form a working group to discuss the matter, as proposed by Senator Lieberman.
Political Scientists Weigh In
The final panel included testimony from Philip Anderson, Director of the Homeland Security Initiative at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, I.M. Destler of the University of Maryland, Elaine Kamarck of Harvard, and Paul Light, Director of the Governmental Studies Program at the Brookings Institution.
Anderson opened his comments by stating that coordination among the agencies focused on different aspects of HS is already difficult enough, and will only become more complicated with time. He then, however, adopted a tone of hesitancy in noting that in this current time of crisis, creation of a new Federal department may be an unwelcome distraction to our national security apparatus. He followed this argument by pointing out that a new agency would be impeded by the lack of a HS strategy to guide its mission. (The President, however, has directed Ridge to devise such a plan.) Anderson then devoted the remainder of his remarks to the makeup of this strategy.
Destler, whose prepared testimony was co-authored by Ivo Daalder, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings, began by asserting that the creation of a HS department is unnecessary. Instead, Ridge’s White House Office should be given statutory and budget authority. Destler argued for this approach on the assumption that a Secretary of Homeland Security would become entangled in endless turf battles with Cabinet colleagues such as the Secretaries of Defense and Health and Human Services, the Attorney General, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
It would be better, he continued, to have an official such as the Homeland Security Director serve “as an honest broker (who) can evoke authority of the White House.” Destler noted that Ridge has been effectively serving Bush much in the same fashion used by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. This style allows Ridge to coordinate efforts and facilitate consensus development among top officials. Destler concluded, however, by arguing two points: 1) that it’s necessary to give the Director certain statutory powers that will cement and strengthen the role Ridge has carved out for his office and 2) that Senator Gregg’s idea to form a Border Security agency would be a welcome change to the structure of the Federal government.
Kamarck, who served on the Clinton Administration’s reinventing government project, supported many of the reforms in the Lieberman/Specter bill. She used her testimony to make the case that the creation of a HS department would allow the government to fix a number of the bureaucratic conventions that are still in place as a result of the Cold War, but are ill-equipped to deal with terrorists threats. She outlined problems in the protection of U.S. borders, challenges confronting our efforts at cyber-security, and risks resulting from ill-timed natural disasters. Kamarck also touched on the difficulties inherent in staffing a HS department due to certain rules related to the hiring of civil servants. She ended her statement by advocating for the closure of the White House Office, which would be continued by the Lieberman/Specter bill, as duplicative.
Rounding out the panel was Paul Light, who commenced by positing that a HS department or agency will eventually be created – it’s just a matter of time. He proposed the convening of “a national commission on executive organization as a first step toward making the tough choices needed to ensure that the new department has all the authorities and units its needs to be successful.” Light asserted that the formation of a HS department “meets the traditional tests that have been used to judge the merits of (Cabinet-level agency) creation.” He then expressed some hesitation about components of the Lieberman/Specter measure, but he did argue forcefully for the continuation of Ridge’s White House Office.
As of right now, it’s unclear how quickly the bill or any alternative may move through Congress. In this election year, there may be limited opportunity to bring the issue to floor debate, but as noted by the panel of members of Congress, it’s been seven months since September 11th and the time has come for action. And Daniels’ remarks expressing a willingness by the Administration to explore the issue may also serve as an impetus for movement in the legislative branch. Whatever happens, there is no doubt that political scientists will continue to play a key role in the debate.
On April 11th, the House Government Reform Committee convened to discuss Executive Order 13233, issued by President Bush last November to govern the release of documents covered by the 1978 Presidential Records Act (PRA). The Order has been vehemently opposed by scholars as being contrary to the intent of the PRA, and experts also claim that it will have a chilling effect on research.
E.O. 13233 created provisions that allow a former president – or his or her heirs or designee – to block the release of requested documents without ever having to claim executive privilege. The incumbent president is granted even more power: any document release must be cleared by the White House, even if the former president has approved the discharge. Under the PRA, however, presidential records are supposed to be made public 12 years after a chief executive leaves office, unless a privilege claim is made and upheld or the release of a record would jeopardize national security.
Another major distinction between the PRA and E.O. 13233 is based on burden of proof. Under the Act, a former chief executive asserting privilege must go to court to uphold that claim; under the Order, an individual must file suit to win release of a blocked record. When the President signed the Order five months ago, the Administration argued that the new rules were necessary to further protect national security in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
This argument, however, didn’t stop researchers and public advocates from assailing the move. Columns were written in several major newspapers declaring that the new provisions impede the public’s right to know, and many scholars echoed the thoughts of the late historian Hugh Davis Graham who said of the Order, “This is a real monster.” These attacks soon took form in a court case, as the American Historical Association, the National Security Archive, the Organization of American Historians, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Public Citizen joined Graham and fellow scholar Stanley Kutler of the University of Wisconsin in filing suit to block implementation of E.O. 13233. The American Political Science Association has since joined the list of plaintiffs.
Congress Enters the Fray
At last Thursday’s hearing, several members of Congress representing both sides of the aisle joined the list of the Order’s critics. Representative Steve Horn (R-CA) opened the session by introducing a Bill that would rescind E.O. 13233, create timetables for the release of requested documents, and place the legal burden back on a former or incumbent president who wishes to withhold a record. Horn’s Bill is co-sponsored by Committee Chairman Dan Burton (R-IN), Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA), and more than 20 other members.
The hearing featured forceful testimony from scholars Robert Dallek of Boston University, Richard Reeves, a columnist for the New York Times, Joan Hoff, Director of the Contemporary History Institute at Ohio University, and Kutler. All of them told the Committee that the Order will have a chilling effect on research and should be repealed immediately. Reeves shared a compelling anecdote during his testimony: “My reaction (to hearing about E.O. 13233) was to send (President Bush) copies of my books on (Presidents Kennedy and Nixon). I said that they might be worth something some day as artifacts because it would be impossible to write them under his new order.”
To this point the White House has shown no signs of backing down. It’s not clear how soon Horn’s legislation may make it to the House floor or the court case (which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia) may be heard, but it is apparent that E.O. 13233 will have to survive a number of challenges in the coming days.
The problem of excessive drinking by college students is entrenched, complex, and multifaceted. Accordingly, changing the culture of drinking at U.S. colleges will require a collaborative, research-based effort supported by institutional leaders, says a blue-ribbon panel of college presidents, scientists, and students. The panel, the Task Force on College Drinking, released its findings April 9th in the first National Institutes of Health (NIH) report on college drinking, A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges. The report is a focused review of existing research literature on the topic and outlines a series of recommendations for colleges and universities and for the scientific community.
“Our data clearly point to the need for better interventions against high-risk drinking” by college students age 18-24, declared Ralph Hingson of the Boston University School of Public Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Hingson’s research, “Magnitude of Alcohol-Related Mortality and Morbidity Among U.S. College Students Ages 18-24,” draws on existing data sources to estimate the annual national prevalence of deaths, injuries, and other consequences of college drinking and makes up the centerpiece of the Call to Action. “This study, and the NIH report released today by the Task Force on College Drinking, is an urgent call-to-action for educators, researchers, students, and society in general,” emphasized Acting National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Director Raynard Kington.
The Task Force divided itself into two panels: the Panel on Contexts and Consequences and the Panel on Prevention and Treatment. Each panel issued a report that examined the scientific literature, highlighted the gaps in current knowledge, and indicated promising directions for future research -- High-Risk Drinking in College: What We Know and What We Need to Learn and How to Reduce High-Risk College Drinking: Use Proven Strategies, Fill Research Gaps.
A dominant theme that emerged from the group’s deliberations is the importance of science-based research in establishing alcohol policies and prevention programs. The Task Force also stressed that additional research is needed to answer important questions about many aspects of excessive student drinking. “Although research alone will not solve the problem, it will point the way to solutions,” says the panel.
Focusing specific attention on the need for longitudinal studies that track trends over time to guide policies and programs, the reports also include a series of suggested questions for researchers, including:
· What are the key environmental characteristics that influence drinking?
· How should environmental characteristics and environmental change be measured?
· How does the academic environment affect student drinking patterns?
· How are social norms campaigns most effectively carried out?
· How effective are student-to-student interventions?
· What are the most effective and cost effective ways to conduct outreach for alcohol services?
· Are comprehensive college-community interventions to reduce high-risk college drinking effective?
· Where should decision-making responsibility be focused: in city government, the college and university, another group or institution, or a combination of players?
The Task Force on College Drinking was convened in 1998 by then-NIAAA Director Enoch Gordis to conduct a comprehensive review of research on college drinking and the effectiveness of interventions currently in use. Gordis retired from the Institute in 2001.
Colleges and university presidents who participated on the Task Force included: Tomas A. Arciniega, California State University at Bakersfield; Robert L. Carother, University of Rhode Island; John T. Casteen III, University of Virginia; Edward T. Foote II, University of Miami, Michael Hooker (deceased), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; William Jenkins, Louisiana State University; William E. Kirwan, Ohio State University; James E. Lyons, California Sate University, Dominguez Hills; Reverend Edward A. Malloy, University of Notre Dame; Susan Resneck Pierce, University of Puget Sound; and Judith Ramaley, University of Vermont.
The Task Force reports are available on the web at www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has named an interim management team made up of four public health experts to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) following the retirement of Director Jeffrey Koplan.
David Fleming, currently the CDC Deputy Director for Science and Public Health, will serve as Acting Director. James Hughes, Director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID), and Julie Gerberding, Acting Deputy Director of the NCID, will oversee the CDC’s bioterrorism efforts. Michael Olsterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, will serve as Thompson’s representative at CDC during the transition to a permanent director. The White House has not yet submitted a nominee to replace Koplan, who left his position on March 31st.
The American Sociological Association (ASA) has named Sally T. Hillsman, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), its new Executive Officer effective May 15, 2002. She will replace Felice Levine, who is leaving to become the Executive Director of the American Educational Research Association.
Hillsman has been at NIJ, where she directs the Office of Research and Evaluation, since 1996. Prior to this position, she served as Vice President for Research at the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia. She spent several years at the Vera Institute of Justice in New York, where she rose to become Director of Research and then Associate Director. She has also taught at Queens College of the City University of New York.
Hillsman currently serves as a member of the Social and Behavioral Science Working Group of the National Human Research Protections Advisory Committee and on the Committee on Evaluation for the Crime Reduction Program of the British Home Office. She is also a member of the ASA’s Committee on Professional Ethics and has been a Vice President of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.
She was a featured speaker at the 2001 COSSA 20th Anniversary celebration (her remarks are on the Consortium’s web page at www.cossa.org/transcript.htm) and has worked closely with COSSA on issues affecting research on crime and criminal justice. She has conducted a wide range of studies on justice system policy issues, including intermediate sanctions, pretrial decisions, case processing, prosecution and court delay, as well as policing and narcotics law enforcement.
Hillsman earned her BA in sociology and economics from Mount Holyoke College and received her Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University.