From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

Science and Technology Policy

I posted the following on my Facebook page on 2/9/17

So, I’ve mentioned my interest in the Federal Government’s attitude toward science and technology. You may or may not know that the White House has an Office of Science and Technology Policy. It was created under President Ford. Prior to 1973, the President had a Science Advisory Committee, chaired at that time by Dr. Edward David. Dr. David resigned due to disagreements with Nixon. Nixon decided he didn’t need a science advisor, and did not replace Dr. David.

It wasn’t until after Nixon’s downfall that a permanent office (OSTP) was created. (My own bona fides on this — for two years, in the Bush 41 White House, I was at USC and served assistant to one of the White House advisors in OSTP). While these are appointed positions, it’s my experience that they are far removed from politics (or at least it was that way under Bush and Clinton). Thus, it’s with a great deal of sadness that I note that all of the positions are currently vacant.

I’ll keep you posted from time to time, and see if the current WH occupants decide to fill these critically important roles (and with whom), or if, like Nixon, this president decides he doesn’t need a science advisor.


Just to update you — I wrote this 15 months ago. I just checked with the White House, and “googled” the OSTP to make sure. Yes, the most important science advisory office on planet Earth is still empty.


OK, it’s finally filled.  Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier has been approved by the Senate and sworn in as Chair.  He is a meteorologist, formerly on the faculty of U. Oklahoma, and his research focuses on extreme weather events.  Even though he is the first non-physicist to hold the job, his appointment has been generally positively received by the scientific community.  His predecessor, Dr. John Holdren (Obama’s appointee) called Droegemeyer a “solid choice”, and Democratic congressman (and former CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) Rush Holt expressed approval of the nomination.

There is presently no news out of OSTP, and no indication if any of the other key positions in OSTP have yet been filled.  (June 13, 2019)


I’m terrifically pleased to announce that Dr. Eric S. Lander was designated by Pres. Biden in early January (yes, before the inaugural) to head up OSTP, and his appointment was unanimously confirmed by the Senate earlier this month.  Dr. Lander jointly holds a professorship in biology at MIT and one in systems biology at Harvard Medical School.  While at OSTP, he will be on leave from both institutions.  He was previously an external advisor to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)  during the Obama Administration.  Dr. Lander will serve in the President’s Cabinet. (June 23, 2021)

Written by johnkilpatrick

February 10, 2017 at 11:39 am

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