PI Government Relations 101

APA members meet with Rep. Napolitano to discuss immigrant mental health
APA members meet with Rep. Napolitano to discuss immigrant mental health

By Micah Haskell-Hoehl (Senior Policy Associate, PI-Government Relations Office)

A visitor to APA headquarters might walk out the main entrance and wonder about the building’s proximity to the Capitol Dome. If nothing else, it is a fitting reminder of APA’s numerous government relations staff working every day to make connections with Congress and the executive branch in support of psychology. For the Public Interest Government Relations Office (PI-GRO), this advocacy focuses on issues related to priority populations and other public interest concerns.

Strive as we might to communicate all of PI-GRO’s successes and achievements, much about federal policy work remains somewhat arcane. We encourage you to visit this blog often and, in part, to learn more about how PI-GRO works, what goes into advocacy initiatives, and what drives these efforts. To make this content unique, our office plans to go a bit more in-depth about the actual work, as opposed to the brief, though important, statements about accomplishments found on the PI-GRO website.

To kick-off these themes, please allow us to share some information about the most important decisions made regarding PI-GRO: how we set work priorities. Prior to taking action on an issue, PI-GRO and APA consider as main factors whether a goal aligns with the APA mission and whether psychology possesses recognized expertise on the issue. Additional criteria for consideration include:

  • The presence or absence of a position on the issue by APA’s Council of Representatives;
  • Whether APA’s governance structure is encouraging the work;
  • Whether psychology and APA can play a relatively unique role in the effort;
  • The likelihood of the executive or legislative action taking place and APA efforts leading to successful outcomes;
  • The probability of other gains for psychology, even if the chances of success in the advocacy initiative are slight; and
  • Whether the needed resources are sufficient to ensure advocacy success or other gains.

Though PI-GRO does not take action on every issue that splashes across the front page of national newspapers, these criteria allow our office to invest on an incredibly diverse range of fronts. In this, PI-GRO continuously pushes on priority issues for APA and the Public Interest Directorate and increases efforts as needed, when second- or third-tier issues heat up. Always true is the fact that PI-GRO is positioned to make needed impact on behalf of psychology, whether as a recognized leader or in cooperation with partner organizations and coalitions with shared priorities.

In coming blog posts, keep an eye out for content related to those areas where APA provides strong leadership. We look forward to telling you more about efforts around violence against women, UN treaties, children’s mental health, and many other areas.

Keep updated on our work by joining APA’s Public Policy Advocacy Network

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