APA projects surplus in 2003, deficit in ‘04

By John Thomas, Associate Editor
March 1, 2003 - Last updated: May 31, 2011

Washington– With many fewer employees and a culture that reflects reduced expectations, The American Psychological Association (APA) will enjoy its first surplus budget in many years in 2003, but faces a potential $4 million deficit in 2004.

How to pare that potential deficit will be an ongoing discussion item for the APA Council of Representatives, which met here for its February meeting.

The Council adopted a budget that shows a surplus of $385,300.

But a number of factors are emerging that have the potential to drive the organization into the red next year.

One of the factors that drew the most attention was the 2004 convention in Honolulu, which despite the optimism of some is believed will cost the APA a significant amount of money because of anticipated low attendance.

“If we are going to be facing a huge deficit, why are we going to Hawaii?” asked James Bray, Ph.D.

When told by Jack McKay, the chief financial officer for APA, that it would cost the organization twice the amount to cancel the meeting than the APA will lose by holding it in Hawaii, Bray reminded the Council that the APA had once canceled a meeting in Chicago because the Illinois Legislature failed to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

But, McKay said the situation was entirely different in that the decision to cancel the Chicago meeting didn’t really cost the national hotel chains much loss since the convention utilized their hotels in the new site.

APA President-elect Diane Halpern, Ph.D., said that she expects the Honolulu convention would turn out to be successful and that Council members should be talking up how great the experience will be rather than expressing so much negativity about it.

Restaffing of many vacant positions and salary increases will also put a strain on the 2004 budget, Council was told. Many of the staff who are on four-day workweeks through the end of this year are expected to return to a full work week in 2004.

J. Bruce Overmier, Ph.D., said that as painful as it was to think about, Council should consider setting staffing caps instead of hiring more workers.

In another action, Council approved recognition of sports psychology and assessment and treatment of serious mental illness as proficiencies in professional psychology.

Norman Anderson, Ph.D., reported that after six weeks on the job as the new APA chief executive office, he could confidently say “so far so good.”

“Think of The West Wing,” Anderson told Council. “Every day there is a dizzying array of complex issues that have to be dealt with. In other words, I love it.”

The February meeting marked the first time all states, provinces and territories with psychological associations as well as the APA’s graduate student organization had their own seats on Council. Representatives from the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam as well as several new Canadian provinces and a half dozen states have increased the size of Council to 164.

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