Taking “Science” Out of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Source: CRS.

From The Hill:

The science division of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy reportedly had no staff members as of Friday.

Sources told CBS News that the last employees in the division, three holdovers from former President Obama’s administration, all left the White House this week.

Under Obama, the science division was staffed with nine employees who crafted policy on STEM education, crisis response and other key issues, according to the report.

I will confess I am totally unsurprised by this development.

15 thoughts on “Taking “Science” Out of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

  1. 2slugbaits

    Unfilled jobs are a problem all across the Executive Department. My brother-in-law is a senior career diplomat and cannot move on to his next post because as acting ambassador in his current position he cannot leave until Trump nominates a new ambassador to replace him. Meanwhile, he can’t fill his new deputy ambassador position, so that post is unfilled. This is a problem all across the government. People are frozen in their current “deputy acting” jobs, which creates a kind of Swiss cheese effect within the departments. Trump seems to think that running the Executive Department is just a slightly expanded version of running a family business. So we’ve got Ivanka and Jared Kushner acting as some plenipotentiary czars roaming across all kinds of domains they knows nothing about. SAD!

    1. jonny bakho

      The Science Advisor position is empty too.
      Scientists pushed GWBush to name a science advisor
      It resulted in no new money for science and Bush did not ask for advice
      The Bush science advisor, Marburger was tasked to defend teaching intelligence design in schools and other nonsense
      That leads to the press quoting the science advisor as an expert on the science and scientists calling the Science advisor a prostitute.
      What is the probability that Trump might name a climate change denier to head OSTP?
      A bad “Science Advisor” is worse than no advisor at all.
      Many institutions will be in shambles after 4 years of Trump

    2. Rick Stryker


      Since you asked, the President is merely implementing the recommendation of the Heritage Foundation report Science Policy: Priorities and Reforms for the 45th President , which concludes:

      “The OSTP and its surrounding bureaucracy do not provide anything in service to the President that specially appointed committees might not also accomplish, as has historically been done. Eliminating the OSTP (or at least electing not to staff it until Congress can act) would not block the President from access to science and technology advice. Rather, it eliminates a formal office whose purpose is unclear and whose capabilities are largely redundant with what the President is able to, and already does, access through his executive agencies and through his own advisory committees.”

      1. CoRev

        Folks, remember the promise to clear the swamp. Who says the OSTP is even needed, let alone wanted.

        1. baffling

          it is not a surprise that flat earthers would be in favor of eliminating OSTP. if you promote antiscience positions, you certainly would be against having an office dedicated to modern science and technology.

  2. 2slugbaits

    Trump draining the swamp. That’s funny. But hey…Trump is convinced we need a voter fraud commission to make sure Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck don’t vote. What a clown show.

  3. Anonymous

    I have a Ph.D. in a hard science and a broad technical background in science and engineering.

    Things like this office are just fluff and silliness. Window dressing. Who cares. Would you love Donald Trump if he staffed the office?

    P.s. It’s not like you all have such great intuitions on technology and science as they relate to economics. You’ve certainly blown it on the oil industry.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Anonymous: Hmm. OK. Don’t need no stinkin’ scientists in the WH is your conclusion.

      PS: I’ve worked with people in OSTP. Have you? From my experience, it seems useful to have people with such specialized knowledge informing decisions.

      1. Anonymous

        I knew one R1 professor who didn’t get tenure and did a gig there and he was nothing special. Of course there are many thousands of working scientists, science administrators and the like. Big Science is an institution and really…a commodity.

        I think you are into the fetish and the aura of science more than the reality. It’s a social thing with you. Not the actual interest in how things work. Not the shelf full of Dover paperbacks across all the classic fields because you just dig it and really learn it. It’s more about some conceit you have that liberals are smarter than conservatives.

        Again, you are just stuck in a track. You want to hoot at Trump. And it rocks your boat that anyone could disagree. Take a step back and think instead. Don’t be so sure of yourself. Sometimes it’s smarter to be more intellectually unsure. Look at the oil thing and how much James missed the beat on that. It wasn’t just luck. It was blind spots, bias, and being too sure of himself. And he still hasn’t learned from it or admitted it. Check out the “story of the decade” from 2007 about SA running out of oil if you want an example. Again, it’s not just being wrong…it’s not learning from it. That’s not a curious scientific attitude.

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Anonymous: I don’t know how you know what is a fetish for me, or not. I live surrounded by (tenured) scientists at a major research university. My brother has a PhD in solid state physics (a “hard” science in some people’s book). I could speculate about what you fetish-ize (“Dover paperbacks”???), but I prefer not too.

          What you need to get tenure is not necessarily what makes a person valuable in an organization like OSTP. One is aimed at generating new knowledge, the other is in interpreting research in the context of policy issues. So the fact the person didn’t get tenure at a top research university is not relevant in this case.

  4. Anonymous

    I did my time in R1. It is nothing special to me. I was in solid state too. It is just not that special.

  5. Anonymous

    I did my time in R1. It is nothing special to me. I was in solid state too. It is just not that special.

    I can tell people who are bright and curious and insightful. Whether in business science or the military.

    Really the union card is not a big deal. It’s the weakest PhDs who value it most.

    Again you are into the aura of science rather than the reality if you think that office makes a difference. James spent decades studying oil and gas and yet still over relied on arguments from peak oilers. A curious and analytical mind us more important than a professor on government salary.

    I got a hoot out of the guy who studied the beginning of NSF and said the scientists were as bad as the farmers…

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Anonymous: Ok, I’ll take your word for it. Judgment is everything. You know, just like Donald Trump; he said he had the best words, and the best people. And a sufficient number of people took him at his word. And so far, worked out just swimmingly.

      As an aside, apparently for you, everything is “not that special”.

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