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4 Institutional Structures for Enhancing State Science and Technology Policy Advice M ost of the institutional structures needed to greatly improve state-level science and technology policy advice already exist. The challenge is to adapt and coordinate these institutions to meet the needs of states and to take advantage of the many opportunities that are currently available. Colleges and Universities Holly Harris Bane described the many ways in which colleges and univer- sities can provide science and technology policy advice to state officials. Colleges and universitiesâin addition to educating students and creating new knowledgeâcan directly provide state policy and decision makers with information. This may require frequent and repeated interactions with state legislators, especially in states where term limits continually bring new cohorts of lawmakers to state capitals, as mentioned earlier. These state legislators âare bright individuals in many, many ways,â said Bane. âThey wouldnât be where they are [otherwise]. But theyâre put into a situationâand often within two years into significant leadership rolesâ where they have to be making policy decisions that truly impact us.â One important lesson for university researchers who are interacting with state legislators is to focus on problems that need to be solved. The work that faculty members are doing may be interesting, but to be useful state legislators must be able to do something with the information they 29
30 STATE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY ADVICE get from researchers. âThat may seem obvious,â Bane said, âbut itâs not always obvious to our faculty members.â One important lesson for university researchers who are interacting with state legislators is to focus on problems that need to be solved. The work that faculty members are doing may be interesting, but to be useful state legislators must be able to do something with the information they get from researchers. Bane recommends that when faculty members are preparing to testify or meet with state legislators, they seek to make their message conciseâ just a half minute or a minute. âYou have to have data to back it up, but the first time you have access to an elected official, you donât pull out all the data,â Bane said. âOnce you get the hook, then you have all the data- driven information behind it.â Bane also pays close attention to the political currents at the local, state, and federal levels. âThe world is political in terms of influencing public policy, and [it] definitely helps when all the political stars are aligned.â Proponents of change need to try to align the political forces to move a policy ahead. Partly for that reason, university outreach to legislators is generally most effective when it is done in partnership with other institutions. Bane said that progress has been especially notable when the university has partnered with other colleges and universities, with professional societies, and with businesses. In particular, âour best success in terms of influenc- ing public policy has been when industry has been able to step up and get involved in the process.â The individuals who are willing to champion an issue often come from the private sector, Bane noted, and these champions are more likely to be risk takers. Such commitments and innovations are often necessary to move an initiative forward. Colleges and universities also should focus on systemic change rather than one-time commitments. Sometimes this requires broadening the focus of an initiative to include the interests of multiple stakeholders. For example, a policy initiative focused largely on homeland security made little progress in Ohio until the initiative was broadened to include an eco- nomic development theme. Another example is a science and mathemat- ics education initiative that languished until it was broadened to include instruction in âcritical languagesâ that are important to U.S. interests. Finally, colleges and universities have a direct impact on K-12 edu- cation through the teachers and administrators they educate, and the importance of K-12 education to the prospects of individual states and
INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURES 31 the nation as a whole cannot be overstated. The success of innovation at the state level is âcontingent upon a successful public K-12 educational system,â said Karl Pister. âWe must never forget that. This is a systems problem in the most elaborate sense of the word âsystem.ââ The success of innovation at the state level is contingent upon a success- ful public K-12 educational system. We must never forget that. This is a systems problem in the most elaborate sense of the word âsystem.â Despite the importance of colleges and universities, there is serious concern about the âsystemic structural issues associated with sustaining the university structures that are necessary for supporting economic inno- vation,â said M.R.C. Greenwood, former provost and senior vice president for academic affairs for the University of California. The United States is spending a smaller percentage of its gross domestic product on publicly funded research and development than are other countries, despite calls in national reports, such as Rising Above the Gathering Storm, to boost the U.S. research and development system, and this funding shortfall needs to be a focus of policy makersâ attention, she observed. State Academies and Councils The more than 40 state academies of science in the United States have great potential to offer science and technology policy advice, but today that potential is largely untapped. The members of state academies have a tendency to âtalk to each other, not to other people,â said Charles Lytle, president of the North Carolina Academy of Sciences. According to Ed Haddad, âThe state academies are not always recognized for the expertise that they do contain and are not utilized enough as a resource,â even though state academies are often thoroughly aware of the issues being dealt with at the state level. Larry McKinney cited the same expe- rience in Texas: âWe have many resources, but theyâre not used by our legislature.â In seeking to influence state policies involving science and technol- ogy, academies need to reach out not only to state legislators and gover- nors but also to the business communities in each state, said John Burch of the Kansas firm Ergosyst Associates. Many businesses are not aware of the resources that a state academy can offer, even when their business is based on science and technology. Many of the state academies have common interests and opportuni- ties. For this reason, they could learn a great deal from each other. Sev-
32 STATE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY ADVICE eral people at the convocation suggested that the state academies work together specifically to coordinate their efforts and share best practices, perhaps under the auspices of an organization like the National Academy of Sciences or the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The involvement of a national organization also could help state acad- emies attract the interest of younger researchers. State academies have many options in seeking to influence state sci- ence and technology policy (many of these options are discussed in the next chapter âCommunicating Science and Technology Policy Advice Effectivelyâ). For example, Haddad described an initiative undertaken after the Florida Academy of Sciences arranged to have two scientists speak on a television show called the âDaily Buzzâ that is widely broad- cast in the United States. Since then, the academy has developed a list of proposed small television segments that is being sent to media in the central Florida area. Such efforts emphasize the importance of being proactive rather than reactive. Researchers need to put their case forward, said Bowles, as busi- nesses, environmental groups, utilities, and many other organizations do. Such involvement often requires special training, which could be pro- vided or supported by such organizations as the National Academies. Participants also were enthusiastic about the potential for advisory groups, like the California Council on Science and Technology, to influ- ence state policies. These councils can connect policy makers to the sci- ence and technology knowledge base in a state, and their independence enables them to provide a perspective that may not be available through other means. It is important, however, that such councils be sustainable if they are to provide independent and timely advice. âIf you depend on a state budget, it can go up and down and disappear at any point,â said Atkinson. Atkinson suggested that those who have had experience with state councils of science and technology list the ingredients that make a council effective and enduring. States also could compare their experiences with advisory councils in science and technology to extract lessons about what works and to foster the much more widespread creation and use of such councils. âItâs really something that should be done, in my judgment, in every state in the nation,â said Atkinson. State Science and Technology Advisors A state science and technology advisor can be a particularly powerful influence on state policies, partly because he or she can emphasize the More information about âThe Daily Buzzâ is available at <http://dailybuzz.tv/>.
INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURES 33 pervasive influence of science and technology on policy. Many policy makers tend to view science and technology as a filter on policyâin other words, science and technology are factors in some policies but not others. A science and technology advisor, said McMahon, can demonstrate that science and technology are actually âorganizing principles for govern- ment and policy.â According to Elfner, âthe policy arena is much broader than the policy du jour, so to speak. We need to keep in mind that there are mechanisms that need to be in place to affect policy all across the board, in all the fields of science, technology, and engineering.â Many policy makers tend to view science and technology as a filter on policyâin other words, science and technology are factors in some poli- cies but not others. A science and technology advisor can demonstrate that science and technology are actually organizing principles for gov- ernment and policy. Tom Bowles laid out what he sees as the desired characteristics of a sci- ence advisor. The first quality is to have an advisor who has demonstrated success in leading and managing research and development. âLeadership means you have to be credible,â Bowles said. âIf people . . . think you are just someone whoâs a pure academic, whoâs never done much except table-top research, businesses and large organizations are not going to pay much attention to you.â Other people should recognize an advisorâs role in making decisions. This may require that science advisors do some self- promoting, and âscientists are not much used to promoting themselves.â But science advisors may need to make their credentials and accomplish- ments more apparent. People should hear that âyou have to go talk to this person if you want to get something done.â A second important qualification is breadth of knowledge. âYou have to know what youâre talking about,â said Bowles. This can be difficult for scientists because of the specialization of research. âI remember when I passed my general exams at Princeton, [my faculty advisors] said, âCon- gratulations, you now know more science than you will at any other time in your life.â And they were right, because after that you start narrowing down, you know a whole lot more about a little bit.â But in todayâs econ- omy, cross-disciplinary interactions are essential, even though academic researchers tend to specialize in their own fields. A third qualification is strong communication skills. The people you are advising need to know what youâre saying. âI remember the first cabi- net meeting I went to with Governor Richardson. I started talking about some of the opportunities in information technology, in nanotechnology,
34 STATE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY ADVICE in biotechnology, and at the end, the governor said, âTom, that was really great. But half the people in this room donât have a single idea what you just said.â And he then went on to translate it since, as secretary of energy, he had a strong background in [these subjects]. Even though you try and tone it down, it can still be a challenge.â Expressing ideas in relevant terms does not mean âdumbing downâ an idea. Rather, it means talking to people in terms they understand. âWeâre an agricultural state, and Iâll tell you, the farmers and ranchers [I meet] are some of the smartest people I know. You canât profit [in farming and ranching] unless you know what youâre doing,â commented Bowles. Advisors also need to be able to address a very wide range of legislators. âSome of them donât even own a personal computer or have an e-mail address. Some of them are incredibly tech-savvy. Most of them are in the middle. They know itâs important, but they canât tell you why and they canât explain it to their constituents. Youâve got to get through that.â The fourth qualification is the ability to perform. âYou canât be all talk. Politics is a hands-on sport. You need to get in and convince the legislature. You need to do things. You need to show successes. You need to show a return on investment. You need to provide metrics. You need to provide accountability, because [legislators] are skeptical about investing in science and technology. Unless you can show them that this is more important than fixing the leaking roof in their elementary schoolsâor just as importantâyouâre not going to get any support.â Bowles made an appeal to convocation participants who represent universities and laboratories to begin training individuals who can serve in advisory roles. âThe set of skills that you need in influencing public policy is very different from the set of skills that you need to be a sci- entist,â he said, âand we donât do a good job . . . of preparing people in how to interact appropriately with politicians or [interest] groups.â Instead of preparing scientists and engineers solely for research positions, Bowles advocated that students be prepared for public service, rather than having them learn on the job. âA few people will go off and do that by themselves. But if we want to have a real impact, we need to set up some effective way of helping them, of supporting them, and [offering them] incentives.â Jay Cole, education policy advisor to Joe Manchin III, governor of West Virginia, suggested that the National Academies work with the National Governors Association to create a network of state science advi- sors. The members of the network could learn from others about what works and what does not. States that do not have a science and technol- ogy advisor could learn from interactions through the network what would be necessary to create and support such a position.
INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURES 35 The set of skills that you need in influencing public policy is very dif- ferent from the set of skills that you need to be a scientist, and we donât do a good job . . . of preparing people in how to interact appropriately with politicians or [interest] groups. Instead of preparing scientists and engineers solely for research positions, students [also should] be prepared for public service, rather than having them learn on the job. A few people will go off and do that by themselves. But if we want to have a real impact, we need to set up some effective way of helping them, of supporting them, and [offering them] incentives. Working with State Legislators and Their Staffs Matt Sundeen of the National Conference of State Legislatures, which is a bipartisan nonprofit organization based in Denver with about 200 employees, spoke about his experience providing scientific and techno- logical information to state legislators and their staffs to help inform their policy- and decision-making work. There are currently 7,382 state legislators in the United States. Before the 2006 election, the split between Democrats and Republicans among legislators was about even; now Democrats exceed Republicans by about 650 (fewer than 100 state legislators have other party affiliations). The split between legislative control of the states is currently about even, with Democrats having a slight advantage. State legislatures are very diverse, both within and among states. Some are full-time legislatures, but most are part-time. In some states, the legislature may meet for as little as one month a year and some meet just every two years. Bills are handled differently in different states, which can make it difficult to track issues from state to state. Also, many legislators do not have offices in their capitol buildings. âThat makes it very difficult to go in and work with that lawmaker,â Sundeen said, âbecause youâre essentially trying to accost them in the hallway as opposed to actually sitting down in their office and presenting your case.â Legislators themselves are more diverse now than they have been in the past. About 26 percent are women, 8 percent are African American, and 3 percent are Latino. Because of term limits, legislators are getting younger on average, with an average age of 53, whereas the average age was more than 60 a decade ago. And 15 years ago, more than a quarter of For more information about the National Conference of State Legislatures, see <http:// ncsl.org>.
36 STATE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY ADVICE legislators were attorneys, whereas now the percentage is about 15 per- cent. âWe have farmers, auto mechanics, educators,â said Sundeen. âWe have people coming in from much more diverse backgrounds.â Beyond the legislators are about 35,000 legislative staff. Staff mem- bers, too, have a very wide range of responsibilities and backgrounds. Among the staff members are partisan staff, caucus staff, nonpartisan staff who are shared among legislators or legislative committees, research counsels, bill drafters, fiscal staff, committee staff, personal staff, admin- istrative staff, interns, constituent relations staff, and so on. âYouâll have to work with a lot of these people, and itâs not the same in every state.â Furthermore, while legislators turn over with each electionâespecially in states with term limitsâmany staff members remain in their positions for longer periods. Almost all legislators and their staffs need help in dealing with science and technology policy issues. They may want enough neutral and honest information to establish a position on an issue. They also may be looking for information to support a position they already have established. Legislators obviously affect state funding for research, Sundeen pointed out. But they also may affect other sources of funding that have an influence on research. By the same token, issues of funding tend to predominate on the legislative agenda. If an issue is not connected to the budget, it is less likely to get attention. When science and technology do rise to the surface in a legislative proposal not related to funding, it is often because the issues are politically charged, as with intelligent design creationism, stem cell research, or abortion. And, in these cases, legisla- tors are likely to bring personal values to their deliberations that go well beyond the purely technical issues involved. State legislators face a huge workload. More than 100,000 bills were considered in the 50 state legislatures in 2006. As a result, legislators are constantly bombarded with information and requests. âEverybody wants to tell them about their bill,â said Sundeen, so legislators are plagued by âinformation overload.â One of the great advantages of working with state legislators is that they often are more accessible than their Washington, DC, counterparts, according to Sundeen. Furthermore, a state lawmaker may have a much more direct influence on a state or local issue than a federal lawmaker. âA lot of the federal policy decided in DC really doesnât have a direct impact on the everyday lives of the people in the states,â Sundeen said. âBut I think a lot thatâs done at the state legislative level has a very direct impact on the people within the state.â Sundeen offered convocation participants a number of tips for work- ing effectively with legislators and their staffs:
INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURES 37 â¢ egislators need information that is actionable. âYou have to give L them something thatâs actually something that they can do, thatâs within the authority of the state legislature to do, and it has to be given to them in a timely manner.â Legislators and their staffs do not need a 200-page thesis, said Sundeen; they need a two-page brief, with model legislation, if possible. â¢ esearchers need to be willing to meet with legislators and their R staffs and provide expert testimony if requested. âPolitics is a very hands-on business. You have to be able to shake hands with people. And they have to be able to understand who you are, what youâre dealing with, and what topic areas you know about.â â¢ dvocates and policy advisors need to establish relationships A with legislators and their staffs early, before an issue becomes politically charged. If a legislator is already bombarded with infor- mation, it will be difficult to get a word in edgewise. Orienta- tion sessions for new members are especially valuable, since they provide an opportunity to establish personal relationships with incoming legislators. âFrom day one, you should be sending them information about your state academy of science or about your academic institution and let them know what you have to offer,â said Sundeen. âEstablish those relationships as early as you can, because if you wait until theyâre actually working on a bill, I think youâre probably too late.â â¢ he minority party should not be ignored. âTodayâs minority is T tomorrowâs majority,â said Sundeen. Forging alliances with just one party or with policy makers who do not have much power can tie the hands of an advisor. â¢ nformation should be easy to understand, so policy makers know I how it relates to an issue. Policy advisors also should make clear what the limits are on the information being providing. They should know the opposing arguments about an issue and share them with a legislator. And when providing information to staff, it is best to make the extra effort to reach the appropriate staff member. The summer intern in a legislatorâs office, for example, is probably not the right person. Sundeen recommended that policy advisors get feedback from leg- islators and members of their staffs. âItâs not a one-way street,â said Sundeen. Legislators and their staff have much to offer the science com- munity. Policy advisors should ask legislators for advice, âeven though you might not think you need it.â Finally, Sundeen suggested working closely with the constituents of
38 STATE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY ADVICE a legislator. âLegislators want to get reelected,â he said. âThe axiom [is that] five letters makes it an issue. So if you can have five constituents contact their legislator about an issue, that makes it more important for the legislator.â The National Conference of State Legislatures has launched a new policy initiative to create permanent links between state legislatures and the science community. According to Sundeen, âwe want to centralize some of the resources that we have on this issue [and] involve people from all sides.â The goals of the project are to increase the quantity and quality of information going to legislators and legislative staff through such means as research, databases, site visits, technical assistance, brief- ings, papers, and so on. The National Conference of State Legislatures is also seeking feedback from legislators about the kinds of information they need, and the organization is tracking legislation to determine what kinds of science- and technology-related issues come up repeatedly in state legislatures. John Ungerâa state senator from West Virginia, an advisor to the U.S. Department of Energyâs National Energy Technology Laboratory and the host of a public affairs radio talk show in West Virginiaâemphasized the political side of policy making. There is often âa big disconnect between ideas and policy,â he said. The best ideas do not necessarily always pre- vail. Politicians have other considerations. In particular, they often need to gauge public opinion and political pressures before they make a decision. As Unger put it, they have âa finger in the air testing the wind.â Given this reality of state policy making, âwhat we need to do is change the wind,â said Unger. The great social and political movements of history have come about when ideas mobilized people and politicians responded. âIdeas matter,â said Unger. Because of the political aspects of policy making, Unger agreed with Sundeen that policy advisors can have a great impact by working through the constituents of a policy maker. Legislators want to serve their constitu- ents well, both to do their jobs well and to get reelected. In both cases, they will be reflecting their constituentsâ desires. Unger also emphasized the importance of working with newly elected legislators. Such legislators are often in the process of forming their leg- islative goals and agendas. âIf you can convince them that your specific project or idea or whatever could be the difference, youâll have a cham- pion then for life,â said Unger. Unger added that it is important to know who has the ear of the gov- ernor or a key legislator. Such a person might be in business, in education, in government, or elsewhere, but âthose are the individuals you need to go and make an appoint to talk with.â Ask for their advice and help, explaining your position carefully and clearly.
INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURES 39 A particularly valuable approach is to have scientists and engineers work on model legislation, which then can be offered to policy makers. By replicating the process that lawmakers go through to write a bill, you âstart thinking like a policy maker, and therefore it will help you to com- municate with policy makers,â said Unger. If members of the scientific and engineering communities feel that they are disenfranchised from the political process, working on model legislation can engage them in the process and empower them to seek change. Scientists and engineers need to defend the integrity and value of their professions, Unger insisted. In politics, positions will be attacked by those who oppose a particular action. Even though professional rewards do not necessarily follow such actions, âyou owe it to your profession to stand up and defend it,â said Unger. A final consideration, according to Unger, is that many different kinds of people need to be part of the decision-making process. Scientists or engineers may think that they know the correct answer. But when a broader spectrum of the stakeholders in a decision are brought into the process and made a part of the decision, a wider range of information is usually gathered. The decision that ensues may not necessarily be based entirely on scientific or technological considerations, but it will then have the support of the stakeholders. âYou have to build those stakeholders processes, and when I say stakeholder I mean people for you and people against you. . . . And sometimes the answer may not be exactly what you want to go after, but you may get an answer that can work, and thatâs an important policy.â Several other convocation participants cited the value of working directly with legislators and offered ideas for how to make such meet- ings happen. William Harris, president of Science Foundation Arizona, recounted that, when he was working in Ireland, he and a group of science and technology policy advisors met over breakfast about once a month with small groups of legislators who were interested in science. The dis- cussions, which revolved around topics like vaccination, were informal but dealt with important subjects. âScientists tend to talk to each other,â said Harris, âand we donât invite politiciansâ into the conversation. Lee Allison, the state geologist of Arizona, described an analogous program in Kansas. Following each legislative session, legislators were offered a three-day field seminar in which they traveled by bus across the state looking at natural resources and environmental issues. The rule was For more information about Science Foundation Arizona, see <http://www.sfaz.org>. Articlesdescribing the Kansas Field Conferences are available at <http://googledex.kgs. ku.edu/search?q=field+conference&site=kgs_main&client=kgs_main&proxystylesheet=kgs_ main&output=xml_no_dtd>.
40 STATE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY ADVICE that there could be no lobbying, just the exchange of information. The program organizers developed such a good relationship with the legisla- ture that the chair of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee asked the group to do a tutorial for the new members of the committee and freshman legislators on energy and resource issues. âWe were in a position after 12 years of having a tremendous amount of credibility and contacts throughout the legislature, and they called on us routinely when they had questions because they knew we were going to give them straight answers,â said Allison. When the New Mexico Geological Survey, which is based in Socorro, emulated the program, it was so successful that the legislators made it a formal committee meeting, so now all the com- mittee members can attend the three-day field seminar. âItâs a tremendous program,â Allison said. Sigma Xi has organized what it calls its Science CafÃ© programs, where scientists and engineers make themselves available to talk with the public in a conversation, without slides or chalkboards. A straightforward extension of this program would be to organize Science CafÃ©s for state leg- islators. âWe just arenât targeting that particular audience at this point,â said Kelly Sullivan. âSo we could put the word out to our chapters to say this is another way we can serve the public understanding of science, which is one of our key missions.â Nancy Huddleston of the National Academies suggested that a sur- vey of the executive and legislative branches of state governments be conducted to ascertain from where and how they get their information about science and technology. Based on the results of the survey, organi- zations could structure events and activities to provide legislators with information in the most effective ways. For more information about Science CafÃ©s, see <http://www.sciencecafes.org/>.
INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURES 41 State Legislatures: A Quiz Scientists and engineers often claim that state legislators know relatively little about science and technology, so Matt Sundeen of the National Conference of State Legislators offered a quiz at the convocation to see how much the partici- pants knew about state legislatures. 1. Which state chamber has the least number of members? 2. Which state legislative chamber has the most members? 3. Which legislature has the highest percentage of female legislators? 4. Which state has the highest capital in the United States? 5. Which state has the easternmost capital? 6. Which state in the continental United States has the southernmost capital? 7. Which four state capitals are named after U.S. presidents? 7. Â Â Lincoln, Nebraska; Madison, Wisconsin; Jefferson City, Missouri; Jackson, Mississippi. Answers: 1. Alaska. 2. New Hampshire. 3. Vermont. 4. New Mexico. 5. Maine. 6. Texas.
42 STATE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY ADVICE Issue Focus: State Energy Policy A set of breakout sessions at the convocation examined state science and technology policy advice specifically in the context of energy. Excerpts from one of the breakout sessions, while not part of the convocationâs plenary sessions, demonstrate some of the ways in which science and technology policy advice come into play on a specific issue. To provide sustainable energy without irrevocably damaging the environment, a wide range of energy options must be considered. Scientific and technological advice will be essential in determining the life-cycle costs and benefits of each source. If necessary information is not available, information gaps need to be identified and filled. Some participants stated that nuclear power must be one of the energy options considered, and the same systematic and rational processes must be applied to it as to other potential energy sources. Potential problems, such as nuclear waste storage, must be identified, along with possible ways to resolve problems. Informa- tion also should be developed about plausible scenariosâif a particular action is not taken, what are the consequences? By taking a comprehensive approach to an analysis of potential energy policies, comparisons can be made across options. Metrics that can enable these compari- sons should be developed for each energy source, with comparable information about inputs and outcomes for each form of energy. Drawing a distinction between liquid transportation fuels and energy for power generation may be necessary, although trade-offs between the two exist. Science and technology policy advice should try to anticipate how policy mak- ers will respond to advice and what they will say to their constituents. Policy makers are more interested in short-term, tactical information than they are in long-term, strategic information, and they are more likely to act on the former. The political context differs among states, and these differences need to be taken into account. However, many issues are the same or comparable across state lines, enabling collaborative efforts and standardization. For issues that cut across state boundaries, the National Academies and other national organizations can act as arbiters, validators of findings and results, and sources of information. National organizations also can convene regional meetings to examine issues shared among states.