With Executive Officer Kevin Marvel on sabbatical, other managers on the AAS staff are taking turns writing this column. In this installment Joel Parriott, AAS Director of Public Policy, introduces Josh Shiode, our new John Bahcall Fellow.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) is the inaugural recipient of the new AAS Award for Public Service to the Astronomical Sciences, recently approved by the AAS Executive Committee.
The AAS needs members' help to convince Congress of the importance of astronomical research. Please get involved by signing up for our Communicating With Washington program. Deadline: 1 August 2013.
The Committee on Human Spaceflight invites interested individuals and groups to submit input papers describing their own ideas on the role of human spaceflight and their vision for a suggested future. Deadline: 9 July 2013.
The American Astronomical Society and its six divisions (Planetary Science, High Energy Astrophysics, Solar Physics, Dynamical Astronomy, Historical Astronomy, and Laboratory Astrophysics) are deeply concerned about the impact of the Administration’s new conference travel restrictions on the scientific productivity and careers of researchers who are Federal employees and contractors.
The AAS is a member of a coalition of 3,200 national organizations named NDD United. The coalition has worked actively to communicate to Congress that a balanced approach to deficit reduction is necessary and that significant cuts to the non-defense discretionary (NDD) portion of the federal budget called for by the 2011 balanced budget amendment in the form of a sequester would have wide-ranging and negative impacts. The sequester is scheduled to be implemented on March 1st.
Public policy is a catchall phrase that includes actions of and interactions with both Congress and the Executive branch. It also captures activities of the AAS that can have an impact in the wider arena of public life, such as creating and endorsing statements related to science, science policy, or other issues.
The government has other impacts on astronomy besides the obvious one of providing funds for research and research facilities. Policies on education, such as stipend levels allowed under research grants, or student loan tax credits are both set by the government. Policies regarding land use can have an obvious impact on astronomy. Governmental panels can make decisions about how many federal agencies should fund astronomy. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) manages spectrum use and can have both helpful and harmful impacts on astronomy.
Occasionally, an action by government that could have a negative (or positive) impact on astronomy must be stopped (or supported). At these times, a rapid, grassroots-level action on the part of the AAS membership can create a truly positive result in Congress or in other areas of government.
When one of these times arrives, the Policy Fellow works with the Executive Officer and the Committee on Astronomy and Public Policy creates an AAS Action Alert. This is then emailed to the appropriate sub-group of the AAS membership.
No. A single letter to a Senator or Congressman once per year is simply not enough to make your elected representative notice your needs or issues. Regular communication can be tremendously beneficial and the AAS strongly encourages AAS members to develop personal relationships with their elected officials or their staff.
For an issue to become important in a Congressional office, approximately five letters must arrive in a given week. This number is a bit larger for Senatorial offices. When an AAS Action Alert is sent out, we have heard from Congressional offices that many hundreds of letters (from AAS members only in several cases) have convinced the member of Congress to take action on the issue.
All politics is local. The American Astronomical Society needs you to communicate the importance of astronomical research to Congress and the White House. Please fill out this form to indicate your availability.
Local visits with your member of Congress can have a more profound impact then visiting them at Capitol Hill. A local visit with your member of Congress is when you schedule an appointment with him or her during Congressional recess when they are back in their state. Please consider scheduling a meeting with your member of Congress.
Instructions: Kindly complete this survey in order for your reimbursement to be processed for participating in the Communicating With Washington program. Thank you.
The John Bahcall Public Policy Fellowship was created in 2006 to provide an opportunity for early career astronomers to gain experience in the world of science policy and serves to augment the policy advocacy programs of the society. The Bahcall Fellowship is currently a one-year postdoctoral level appointment.