House Appropriators recognize role of professional societies

By Jamila Blake

©Bob Wick, BLM

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations filed a report (House Report 115-238) associated with the FY18 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill which acknowledges “that maintaining the professional competencies of the Federal workforce is necessary to assure sound scientific management principles are applied to resource management.”

While the report itself will not become law, it provides strong encouragement to federal agencies funded by this appropriations bill — like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — to support employee participation in professional societies.

The Report states, “professional societies, such as the Society of American Foresters, the Society for Range Management, The Wildlife Society, American Fisheries Society, and others provide opportunities for employees to maintain professional competencies through continuing education, scientific journals, and interaction with other professionals.” Inclusion of this language in the Report is a strong demonstration of the value House Appropriators see in federal employee engagement in natural resources professional societies. Federal agencies often look to committee reports for guidance on priority issues and program implementation.

On Aug. 16, thirteen professional societies — including The Wildlife Society — sent a letter to the Committee thanking members for their recognition of the important role professional societies play in the natural resources field.

In the letter, the organizations emphasize that professional societies can help agency employees enhance their collaborative efforts — such as those with federal, state, and local governments, non-governmental organizations, and private industry — and expand their networks. The letter points out that federal employee participation in professional societies “can substantially contribute to maximizing the efficiency and efficacy of an agency’s ability to serve the American people.”

The bill, and its associated report, has been approved by the House Appropriations Committee, but has yet to be voted on by the full House. Congress is currently in recess with hopes to quickly move through FY18 appropriations when they return in September.

Learn more about the U.S. Federal Budgeting Process in Section 5 of TWS’ Policy Toolkit.

Jamila Blake is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Wildlife Policy and Programs team. Read more of Jamila's articles here.