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SPA Follows Policy Initiatives

1 July 2011 724 views No Comment
Clyde Tucker, Committee Chair

    The charge of the ASA Scientific and Public Affairs Advisory Committee (SPA) is to consider public policy issues relevant to the statistical community; make recommendations concerning these issues to the ASA Board of Directors; and serve as a liaison between the ASA and other statistical experts, organizations, and the media on these issues. During 2011, SPA has followed a number of important policy initiatives that have relevance for ASA members and the statistical community as a whole.

    Committee members have been involved in discussions about the organization of the new Office of Financial Research created by the Financial Reform Act. This new office will need the advice of statisticians with respect to the creation of research databases and methods of analysis. Steve Pierson, ASA director of science policy and a liaison to SPA, has held meetings with congressional staff to foster legislation for improving statistics education throughout the United States.

    The committee also has devoted considerable attention to issues surrounding auditing elections. Several committee members have participated in discussions led by staff from the National Institute of Standards about the creation of standardized methods of electronic data interchange of ballot information to facilitate auditing. Recently, members of SPA drafted a letter to the Massachusetts State Legislature providing recommendations on valid statistical methods for conducting election audits.

    The committee has remained active in the debates over climate change. Both ASA member David Marker and Pierson attended a climate summit held earlier this year in which representatives from 15 interested societies were present. One major item of discussion was the creation of an information clearinghouse for findings from scientific studies on climate change. SPA has plans to be active on other policy fronts, including health care, national security, and education.

    SPA is sponsoring a number of invited and topic-contributed sessions at JSM this year. Members of SPA will serve as judges in a competition among posters that have policy relevance. And the committee has its own invited panel, “The Implications of Statistical Measurement on Public Policy,” that will be held at 8:30 am on August 3 in CC-A209. For more information, visit the online program.

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