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The APS Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) initiates in-depth studies on topics ranging from energy and environment to national security issues. In this process, POPA takes the lead — subject to Council approval — in securing outside funding and establishing the Study Group. The final decision on the release of the study is made by the Council, with advice from POPA and a review panel appointed by the Council. In addition to these large-scale studies, members of POPA have carried out smaller studies, some of which have led to informal reports which when read and accepted by POPA (but not reviewed with the formality of APS Studies), become POPA Reports.
The traditional role of the American Physical Society has been to serve the physics community through the organization of technical meetings and publication of journals. Beginning in 1973, however, the Society undertook to expand its role to serve emerging public needs. As one component of its concern with the relationship between physics and public policy, the Society has undertaken a number of studies of timely technical issues. The final decision on the release of these studies is made by the APS Council, with advice from the APS Panel On Public Affairs (POPA) and from a Review Panel appointed by the Council.