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.”
Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.