White House’s dwindling science office leaves major research programmes in limbo

Jul 11, 2017

By Sara Reardon

US President Donald Trump has pledged to shrink the federal government, and he seems to be starting with science. Nearly six months after taking office, Trump has not chosen a science adviser, and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has dwindled from around 130 staff members under former president Barack Obama to 35.

The vacancies have diminished the White House’s ability to coordinate science policy and spending between agencies, and have left government-wide programmes on topics such as cybersecurity, regulation of genetically modified organisms and science education without clear direction. And the problem is expected to worsen, with the continuing exodus of the OSTP’s non-political (or ‘career’) staff; four senior people left on 30 June alone. Many are frustrated that the White House is not calling on scientific expertise when making decisions.

OSTP insiders fear that it may be difficult for the next science adviser — who normally directs the office — to restore it to its role of scientific coordinator. “Anyone who is nominated, if they are confirmed, is going to have to play catch-up,” says a former OSTP staff member, who is still a government employee and not authorized to speak to the press. “And I don’t know if they’re ever really going to have a seat at the table.”

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3 comments on “White House’s dwindling science office leaves major research programmes in limbo

  • From the article:
    Many are frustrated that the White House is not calling on scientific expertise when making decisions.

    That, surely, must worry any conscientious American. It certainly confirms (as though confirmation were still needed) that this US administration is woefully incompetent.



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  • @OP – And the problem is expected to worsen, with the continuing exodus of the OSTP’s non-political (or ‘career’) staff; four senior people left on 30 June alone. Many are frustrated that the White House is not calling on scientific expertise when making decisions.

    The same is happening with diplomatic staff and legal advisors!
    (What do those tedious “so-called judges” know about law?)

    Trump appointed know-it-all air-heads, don’t need all those “big-government” experts to advise them or to regulate anything! (allegedly) – They can blunder around making those risky, beginner-level, “great” howling errors, all by themselves!



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  • Tee-hee.

    The UK needs a break after being screwed over by Brexiteers taking 5% margin off the bulk of our technology sales. American competition will be actively reduced. No wonder Musk is looking to invest in China where the High Tech market is moving to, where the new industries are nurtured by supporting science and where the educated consumers live…

    There are so many winners out of Trump but not a single American, though the dull witted appear to be cheering still.



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