Volume 24, Issue 13
July 11, 2005
With the completion of the Transportation/Treasury/HUD/Judiciary/District of Columbia appropriations bill on June 30, the House of Representatives met its goal and passed all of its FY 2006 spending legislation before recessing for the July fourth holiday. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) made this a cornerstone of his successful campaign to lead the panel, and he delivered.
As usual, the Senate lags behind, with only three of its FY 2006 spending bills having passed in that body. However, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) expects to move the four bills that have emerged from the committee process, including Commerce, Justice, Science, Agriculture and Rural Development, to the floor soon after the Senate returns on July 11. The remaining five bills have not had markups at the subcommittee or full committee level, including the huge Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education bill. That bill will be marked up at the subcommittee and full committee levels during the week of July 11.
Agriculture Funding from Senate Panel
The full Senate Appropriations Committee marked up the FY 2006 Agriculture and Rural Development bill on June 23. Like the House, it rejected Administration attempts to phase out Hatch Act programs, almost totally eliminate Special Grants, and transfer programs into the National Research Initiative. The Senate panel matched the House and last year’s funding levels for Hatch Act programs at $178.8 million. For Special Grants, the Committee provided $110.3 million, including $1.2 million for the Rural Policies Institutes. The total funding is about $3 million above the House level, but $10 million below last year. However, the conference committee usually provides more funding for these grants than either the House or Senate.
The National Research Initiative Competitive Grants program (NRI) received $190 million, $11 million more than FY 2005, but $60 million below the request. The funding did not include programs funded last year in the Integrated Activities account. The House had moved a number of these programs into the NRI account, inflating its total to $214.6 million (see UPDATE, June 13, 2005).
The Senate panel recommended $78.5 million for the Economic Research Service (ERS), $2.6 million above the House-recommended level, $4.4 million above last year, but over $2 million below the request. The Committee report asks that the Secretary use ERS to conduct “a national study regarding the economic impact of cooperative models on the vitality of rural communities and residents.”
The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) received $145.2 million from the Committee, over $9 million more than the House allocation, the same as the request, and a $16.7 million boost over FY 2005. Within the total appropriation, the panel recommended $29.1 million for the Census of Agriculture.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) emerged from the FY 2006 appropriations process in both the House and Senate with $143.1 million, a $5 million boost over FY 2005.
With the issue of identity theft and privacy coming to the forefront of the Senate agenda this year (see UPDATE, June 30, 2005), COSSA held a congressional briefing on June 23 entitled, “Protecting Privacy: How Much Are We Willing to Give Up?”
While the public eye has focused primarily on identity theft, the issue of privacy goes broader and deeper than this problem alone. Questions about privacy protection have significant implications for public policies such as the Patriot Act, health privacy regulations, conducting the U.S. Census, and database protection legislation. COSSA invited three distinguished speakers to discuss these impacts from a number of perspectives.
In his introductory remarks, COSSA Executive Director Howard Silver referred to three recent stories in the Washington Post that addressed not only the issue of privacy, but questioned the idea that our personal data is safe in an age of rapidly advancing technology. He reminded the audience of congressional staff, organizational representatives, and researchers of Scott McNealy’s (Sun Microsystems) now-famous quote: “you have zero privacy anyway; get over it.”
The Paradox of Privacy
The first speaker on the panel was Sandra Petronio, a professor in the department of communication studies at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis and author of the award-winning book Boundaries of Privacy. Throughout her years of research, she said, she has focused primarily on the psychology of privacy from an individual standpoint, as opposed to a legal one. She went on to explain that the major paradox of individual privacy is that “we always need information and we want access to information, but we always want our privacy needs to be protected.”
Petronio explained two major conflicts in the way that people think about privacy. First, if the larger impacts of compromising their privacy are not salient to them, they are less willing to cooperate. She gave an example of attempts at methamphetamine (meth) production prevention in Kansas. In order to keep drug dealers from buying large quantities of cold medicine to make meth, authorities asked consumers to sign a list at the drug store attesting to their need for more than one package of cold medicine. However, as she explained, people were unwilling to do that. She contended that this meant the issue did not have enough salience for them. Second, Petronio pointed out that while individuals see their personal information as proprietary, agencies and organizations such as the CIA and FBI also see that information as proprietary for them to use and share in order to accomplish larger goals.
People have their own set of privacy rules, whether they know it or not, she explained. There is a set of circumstances under which you might reveal information, for example, and a larger set of circumstances under which you would not intentionally compromise your sphere of privacy. When people share their information, Petronio argued, they decide to make others “co-owners” of that information. The problem comes into play when the co-owners do not have the same privacy sharing rules. “When you tell physicians your private information, you expect the physician is going to treat that information in the way you think it should be treated, whether or not you talk about it. And that is a problem because you don’t always negotiate. So the shareholder-co-owner concept is very important to remember because that means that people have expectations for what is going to happen to their information next,” she explained.
In addition to incongruous information sharing rules between co-owners, there is also the issue of what Petronio calls “boundary turbulence,” or unsuccessful privacy coordination dealing with situations in which information is stolen or coerced. “What happens…with this is when we have privacy turbulence, we have a negative impact on willingness to grant co-ownership. People are not going to be willing to give you their private information. It calls for a revamping of negotiations of coordinated privacy rules,” she explained.
Petronio concluded by saying that often, the “leakiest” information areas happen at the interface of individuals and co-owners whom they trust. Rules, she argued, must be re-negotiated in order for a compromise to be reached that not only allows the necessary information to pass to others, but also maintains a comfortable level of privacy for individuals.
The Digital Person: What We Don’t Know May Be Hurting Us
Daniel J. Solove, an associate professor at The George Washington University Law School and author of the book The Digital Person: Privacy and Technology in the Information Age, began his presentation by explaining that “we are all living with a counterpart of sorts, a digital person who resides in various databases. The digital person is not made up of flesh and blood like you and I are; instead, the digital person is made up of bits and fragments of our data that are being assembled and aggregated together.” He went on to point out that in order to “join in” we must “plug in,” or give out personal data in order to get things like Internet service, insurance, cable, etc. But, as he stated, “every time we establish a relationship with a company, a record about us is created and that creates data about us. And these records are increasingly being assembled together and traded.” Solove gave several example of companies who gather information on certain aspects of our lives – our grocery purchases, voting records, health problems, for example – and either use them or sell them to others who use them. The problem, he said, is not only the collection of this information, but the fact that it is being used without our knowledge.
The government, he pointed out, has been interested for some time in collecting individual behavior information and attempting to use it to predict future behavior or to “profile” people. He illustrated this by talking about the government’s attempt at a “total information awareness” program in 2002, run by the Department of Defense’s John Poindexter: “What it envisioned was creating a database, collecting information from various companies and businesses about our finances, education, travel health and more, and then analyzing the information to detect various patterns or profiles to sort of separate out the ‘naughty’ from the ‘nice.’” While this particular project died, Solove added that it has been resurrected, in part, within several other agencies, many of whom are outsourcing their data money to companies such as Choicepoint (see UPDATE, June 30, 2005).
Solove argued that the major flaw in our current approach to protecting privacy has mainly to do with our outmoded conceptions of what privacy is. He gave the often-cited example of George Orwell’s classic 1984, in which society is constantly under surveillance by “Big Brother.” However, he argued that while this is often given as an analogy for our current privacy problems, it fails to capture the true essence of the issues at stake. “Big Brother envisions a centralized authoritarian power that aims for absolute control. But the digital dossiers are constructed by business that aren’t controlled by central power and their goal isn’t to oppress us. They just want us to buy stuff…a lot of the information in the databases is not that all intimate and not all that embarrassing,” he argued. Instead, he offered Franz Kafka’s The Trial as a more accurate analogy, because it captures “the sense of helplessness, frustration, and vulnerability when large bureaucratic organizations have control over a vast dossier of our personal information.” Another misconception he pointed out is that privacy invasions are generally thought to cause direct, concrete harm to individuals, whereas data privacy invasions may not be so cut-and-dry.
Overall, Solove explained that when it comes to the issue of privacy invasion and identity theft, “the law responds to the harm when it’s too late. It tries to pick up the pieces, it tries to focus on the criminal penalties for the thieves and not enough on the preventative part…” And while he pointed out that we cannot “turn back the clock” on all of this technology, we can take steps to regulate how are information is used by companies.
Public Policy Must Be Informed By Accurate Data
Kenneth Prewitt, the Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and former director of the U.S. Census Bureau, opened his discussion by explaining that there is “no democracy without information. One of the defining characteristics of democracy is you have to give reasons for your public policies.” He noted that Congress is “full of people explaining why this, that, or the other public policy is good for this society, and their explanations are data-driven.” Prewitt argued that without sound information about the population that comes from surveys, neither the economy nor the government can properly function.
Prewitt went on to contend that the major vulnerability of federal statistics and surveys is that they require people to consistently cooperate; filling out the surveys, revealing their information, and sending those surveys back to the government. During the 2000 decennial census, there was an uproar when then-candidate George W. Bush stated that if he received the long-form census, he was unsure if he would answer it. Prewitt argued that this statement and the flurry of legislation that followed it (many of which would have effectively canceled every individual’s obligation to provide information), were very damaging to the long-form response rates in 2000. This led to the conclusion that there is ultimately a very large group of people who would rather not let the government in on the type of information it is seeking in these surveys, he explained. However, the government has since found out that much of the information that people fail to provide is available in other ways.
Prewitt went on to explain that people want to guard their privacy and confidentiality. But, as he argued, confidentiality and privacy are two different things: “Confidentiality is don’t tell anyone; privacy is don’t even ask me that question.” While the Census Bureau’s record on confidentiality is very good, he pointed out, people are still often unwilling to reveal this information. To deal with this problem, the government has to turn more and more to administrative data. But often, Prewitt argued, that data is not as accurate as survey data. The irony in the long run, he said, is that “the American public, out of a concern about privacy, withdraws its voluntary cooperation with surveys and censuses and government collection, they’re going to end up with a system over which they have less control and in which you’re going to have less privacy.” But too often it is difficult to convince people that collecting this information is for the public welfare. Prewitt left briefing attendees with a closing thought: “We have got to start talking to the American public about the fact that information is a public good; we can’t have democracies without it, we can’t have decent public policies without it, and so forth and so on, and that does mean some voluntary sharing of information.”
Methamphetamine (meth) abuse is an escalating health and social problem in the United States. Over 12 million people 12 years of age and older have abused meth in their lifetime, and over 600,000 were current users in 2004. Compared with other illegal narcotics, meth is of significant concern because of its neurotoxic, highly addictive properties. Aside from its damaging effects on the brain, meth use is also closely linked with HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, and other sexually-transmitted diseases.
As a response to the growing epidemic that is increasingly burdening the health and legal communities in rural America, the Friends of the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) sponsored a congressional briefing on June 28 entitled, “Methamphetamine Addiction: Cause for Concern – Hope for the Future.” The briefing provided audience members with an update on NIDA’s research on meth abuse, as well as results from the NIDA-funded Matrix treatment research and a personal account of meth addiction recovery. Although each presentation delved into different aspects of meth abuse, the message from all three speakers was clear: treatment works and NIDA has the research to prove it.
Volkow: Dealing With Meth’s Neurological Damage
NIDA Director Nora Volkow opened the briefing with a broad overview of the meth abuse in the U.S. Although meth abuse appears to be increasing in certain areas of the country, particularly rural communities, results from NIDA’s 2004 Monitoring the Future Survey indicate that meth abuse has significantly decreased among eighth graders, and the abuse among 10th and 12th graders appears to have stabilized. While these findings are encouraging, the number of meth admissions to medical and treatment facilities has quadrupled since 1992.
Through the use of images that showed the brain scans of healthy and meth-addicted individuals side-by-side, Volkow was able to clearly illustrate meth’s adverse effects on the brain. She explained that in humans, meth affects the frontal cortex, nucleus accumbens (pleasure center), and the VTA/SN, which alter the brain in ways that “impair decision-making, memory, motor behaviors, and causes structural and functional deficits in brain areas associated with depression [and] anxiety.”
One particularly striking image showed the neuroscans of a meth addict at 28 years of age and of a healthy individual at 44 years of age. The comparison of both neuroimages demonstrates the extent in which meth abuse accelerates the loss of dopamine transporters in our brain, with the brain of a meth addict at 28 showing the same loss as a 44 year-old person.
However, according to Volkow, research proves that “partial recovery is possible with prolonged abstinence.” NIDA research shows that a protracted abstinence from the drug for at least 24 months can lead to partial recovery of brain dopamine transporters in meth abusers.
Volkow also discussed how the research guiding treatment and prevention efforts has shown that adolescents’ concern with physical appearance and performance abilities strongly influence health-related behaviors such as quitting smoking. NIDA’s efforts to prevent adolescent meth abuse place a heavy emphasis on the physical and mental decay caused by drug, and NIDA prevention materials highlight the ways in which meth adversely affects performance in sports and academic activities in addition to hindering growth and causing tooth decay.
Beyond brain damage, Volkow also discussed how meth “increases the proportion of AIDS cases in adults caused by exposure.” Meth abuse increases the risk of contracting HIV “not only due to the use of contaminated injection equipment, but also due to increased risky sexual behaviors as well as physiological changes that may favor HIV transmission.” The research also shows that meth alters immune function, and that physiological changes resulting from the drug may increase infectivity.
Volkow concluded her presentation by emphasizing the “need to work together to make the public aware of the drug’s toxic and addictive properties;” and “to develop treatments that counteract the neuroadaptions that underlie the addictive process and reverse meth’s neurotoxic effects.”
Following Volkow’s presentation, Vicki Sickels, a counselor for meth research in Des Moines, Iowa, shared her own deeply personal account of her struggle to recover from meth addiction. Although meth research did not figure into her presentation, she called attention to the importance of state and federal funding to pay for the treatment of uninsured meth addicts, because “recovery is the highest for those with resources.”
New Treatment Findings Are Encouraging
For the final presentation of the briefing, Richard Rawson, Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences in the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), discussed successful psychosocial and behavior treatments for meth addiction, in addition to the results from his NIDA-funded Matrix Treatment program coordinated by the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs.
Rawson addressed the pervasive rumors in meth-affected communities that users are virtually untreatable and have negligible recovery rates. “Research shows that meth users respond in an equivalent manner as individuals admitted for other drug abuse problems,” he said.
NIDA has also produced several successful behavioral interventions that have been empirically tested with stimulant using population, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Contingency Management (CM). Rawson explained how these materials were tested among cocaine and crack users, and indicated that there is evidence that cocaine and meth users respond similarly to behavioral and cognitive strategies. Both CBT and CM have proven to substantially reduce use by cocaine abusers and the findings are virtually identical for meth abusers. Moreover, Rawson said that “the preliminary findings for CM appear very positive, in that CM has demonstrated to be a very powerful tool for improving engagement and retention in treatment programs and reducing meth use.”
Rawson then shifted the discussion to his study on the Matrix Model, a manualized, 16 week, non-residential, psychosocial approach used for the treatment of drug dependence. It is designed to integrate several interventions, including individual counseling, CBT, motivation interviewing, family education groups, urine testing, and participation in 12-step programs, into a comprehensive approach to drug treatment.
Based on an assessment of the participants, Rawson found that meth users enrolled in the Matrix program participated in treatment longer, and were more likely to stay meth-free during treatment and six-months after discharge. According to Rawson, the research substantiates that the Matrix model is an effective treatment for meth addiction and has been shown to significantly reduce drug use.
Rawson ended his presentation by highlighting the gender differences in meth use. Unlike other narcotics in which the men outnumber women, the typical gender ratio of meth users in treatment is one man to one woman. Of the reasons self-reported by women for starting meth use, 35 percent used to lose weight and 35 percent used to relieve depression. Rawson stated that the results suggest “the importance of understanding client background factors before they enter treatment.”
After serving in an Acting capacity since 2002, Thomas Feucht (Foyt) has been appointed the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ) Assistant Director for Research and Evaluation. He replaces Sally Hillsman, who is now the Executive Officer of the American Sociological Association (ASA).
The Office of Research and Evaluation, the social and behavioral science arm of NIJ, has seen its budget decline and almost disappear in recent years, but Feucht noted that his appointment “represents NIJ's renewed commitment to the social sciences and to the belief in the value of social science research and evaluation in solving the problem of crime and advancing justice and public safety."
Commenting on the appointment, NIJ Director Sarah Hart declared: "Thom has a proven track record of effective, strong leadership… with his hard work and vision, NIJ established the evaluation division, began a new research program on terrorism, renewed its work in community corrections, policing research, and other key areas of crime and justice, and developed several new initiatives in partnership with NIJ's Office of Science and Technology."
Feucht has represented NIJ and the Department of Justice on several important inter-agency working groups, including the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences Subcommittee, the Federal Geographic Data Committee, and the Forum on Family and Child Statistics.
Feucht has a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Before coming to NIJ in 1994, he was associate professor of sociology and urban studies at Cleveland State University.
Continuing with his crusade to improve the history and civics knowledge of American citizens, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) inserted a provision into the FY 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act requiring that “educational institutions receiving Federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the United States Constitution September 17 of each year.” This day, known as “Constitution Day,” commemorates the September 17, 1787 signing of the Constitution.
This law applies to both local educational agencies and institutions of higher education. Recently, the Department of Education issued a notice to help implement this legislative requirement (see Federal Register, May 24, 2005, p. 29727). Since Congress authorized no funds to carry out the requirement, and there are no sanctions for failure to meet the requirement, the Department simply recommended a series of web sites including those at the Library of Congress and the National Archives to help educational institutions develop their Constitution Day programs. The Department also notes that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will be making information available to all Federal agencies to help train and educate Federal employees on the Constitution.
COSSA provides this information as a service and encourages readers to contact the sponsoring agency for further information. Additional application guidelines and restrictions may apply.
Research on Research Integrity
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the National Institutes of Health (Nursing, Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Drug Abuse, Cancer, Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the Office of Research Integrity), seek to foster empirical Research On Research Integrity (RFA-NR-06-001). The agencies are particularly interested in research that will provide clear evidence of potential problem areas as well as societal, organizational, group, and individual factors that affect integrity in research. While a great deal has been written about integrity in research and its importance, empirical information is lacking in four crucial areas:
11) Standards for responsible conduct (best practices). These standards are complex and not always apparent. There is particular interest in knowing more about the standards for: Data collection, storage, and sharing; Data selection, interpretation and reporting; The use of statistics in data interpretation and reporting significant results; Assigning authorship; Collaboration with other researchers and laboratories, particularly clinical trials and international research.
22) Self regulation which plays a vital role in maintaining integrity in research and for ensuring the reliability of the research record. Areas of particular interest include: Responding to/preventing research misconduct and questionable research practices; Responding to/preventing inadvertent and careless errors; Correcting the research literature; Promoting responsible mentoring and laboratory practices.
33) Factors that enhance or undermine integrity. There is particular interest in knowing more about factors that enhance integrity in relation to: Responsible conduct of research education; Mentoring; Conflicts of interest, particularly those that involve financial gain; The effectiveness of research regulation; The organization of individual laboratories and clinical research settings; and The organization of large research collaborations (clinical trials, multi-site research, international research).
44) Economic, policy, and scientific impacts. The goals of NIH-supported research are to advance our understanding of biological systems, improve the control of disease, and enhance health. Studies are encouraged that will provide realistic estimates of:
Letters of intent are due August 16, 2005. Applications are due September 16, 2005. For more information about the RFA, contact: Alexis D. Bakos at the National Institute of Nursing Research, (301) 594-2542 or firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-NR-06-001.html.
Inside Update. . .
CONSORTIUM OF SOCIAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATIONS
Executive Director: Howard J. Silver
Dep. Dir. for Health Policy: Angela L. Sharpe
Public Affairs: Tracey Lesetar
Govt. Relations Asst.: Julie A. Egermayer
President: Myron Gutman
The Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), an advocacy organization for Federal support for the social and behavioral sciences, was founded in 1981 and stands alone in Washington in representing the full range of social and behavioral sciences.
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