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The Psychological Impact of Furloughs


by SIOP Administrative Office

SIOP Engages with Congressional Policy Makers

As part of SIOP’s ongoing advocacy work with consulting firm Lewis-Burke, the Society hosted two congressional roundtable discussions in December on the psychological impact of furloughs on the federal workforce.

Staff members from the Maryland and Virginia congressional delegations in both the House and the Senate were invited to participate in the conversation December 9 because of the large proportion of federal workers housed in their districts.

SIOP members David Costanza, Associate Professor of Organizational Sciences and Psychology at the George Washington University; Jay Goodwin, Chief of Basic Research at the Army Research Institute; and Tim McGonigle, Senior Consultant at SRA International, spoke on behalf of SIOP and the importance of industrial and organizational psychology research, practice, and applications when implementing organizational change in the federal work environment.

The congressional roundtables served as an opportunity for SIOP to engage with federal policy makers to discuss how and why I-O psychology should be used to make policy decisions and organizational change. SIOP participants underscored the importance of preserving the psychological contract between an employer and an employee.

“These events were a great success in large part due to the ability of SIOP and its members to react quickly to a potential opportunity,” Carla Jacobs, of Lewis-Burke Associates LLC. “The roundtables raised the visibility of SIOP as a resource for policy makers, and we look forward to replicating the roundtable model in other policy areas.”

Congressional staff from Congressmen Bobby Scott’s (D-VA-3) and Jim Moran’s (D-VA-8) respective offices participated in the roundtable in the House and were particularly interested in how managers in the federal workforce can rebuild trust with employees. Similarly, staff members from Senator Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) office were interested in the perception current and prospective employees have about working for the federal government. Many participants in the discussion inquired about and expressed concern for recruiting and retaining federal employees during the challenging budget environment, as the federal workplace does not have a strong sense of stability and security.

SIOP will continue to engage with these offices, as they have been vocal in support of programs and policies that assist the federal workforce. Senator Mikulski serves as chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. She is a strong advocate for the federal workforce, as approximately 260,000 federal employees reside in Maryland. Congressman Scott represents the corridor along the James River in Virginia, including parts of Richmond, Newport News, and Norfolk, which is home to many federal workers, both military and civilian. Congressman Scott also serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Congressman Moran represents part of northern Virginia, including Alexandria, Falls Church, and Arlington and Fairfax Counties, which are home to many federal workers in the Washington, DC area. He is a senior member on the Appropriations Committee, as well.

The roundtable discussions were seen as a success for SIOP and the Society’s government relations efforts by those involved. SIOP will continue to engage with congressional staff and serve as a resource to promote I-O psychology research and practice across the federal government.