white house

Eric Lander Active in First Few Weeks as OSTP Director; Community Awaits PCAST Appointments

In the first few weeks since his confirmation on May 28, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Eric Lander has been active in advocating for President Biden’s ambitious science policy agenda, most notably the proposal for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), the DARPA-like research agency proposed to be housed within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). During the June 10-11 meeting of the Advisory Committee to the Director of NIH, Lander presented a more thorough vision of ARPA-H’s role as a high risk, high reward vehicle to address specific societal questions….

White House Reconstitutes President’s Council of Advisory on Science and Technology

On October 22, the Trump Administration issued an executive order reconstituting the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). PCAST is comprised of experts from science and technology from outside the government who volunteer to advise the White House; it has not met since the Obama Administration. In addition to reconstituting the council, the President also appointed seven members to PCAST. The members primarily have backgrounds in the private sector: Dario Gill of IBM research, A.N. Sreeram of Dow Chemical, Sharon Hrynkow of Cyclo Therapeutics, H. Fisk Johnson of S.C. Johnson Inc., Catherine Bessant of Bank of America,…

White House Announces Winners of Early Career Awards in Science and Engineering

On July 2, the White House released a list of recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The award recognizes scientists and engineers in the early stages of their research careers who show exceptional promise for the future of scientific leadership. Several social scientists were named among the recipients, showcasing expertise in fields such as economics, education, linguistics, public policy, psychology, sociology, and others. The full list of award recipients can be found on the White House website. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

President Issues Executive Order to Reduce Number of Federal Advisory Committees

On June 14, the White House released an executive order directing federal agencies to eliminate at least one-third of their advisory committees by October 2019. The executive order applies to committees established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and provides exemptions for committees authorized in statute and merit review panels that are “necessary to fund extramural research.” While merit review panels are exempt from the order, science advisory committees—important for delivering scientific advice and guidance to agency leaders across the government—are not. Agencies are directed to terminate at least one-third of their advisory committees by the end of the…

White House Announces New Joint Committee on U.S. Research Community

On May 6, the White House National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) announced the formation of a new Joint Committee led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) addressing the issues and burdens facing the U.S. research community. Specific issues the Joint Committee will address are administrative burdens on federally funded research, rigor and integrity in research, inclusive and equitable research settings, and protecting American research assets. The Joint Committee will also engage with the research community for input on policy making. The Joint Committee’s membership will be comprised of OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier, National Institutes of Health…

Kelvin Droegemeier Nominated to Lead OSTP

On August 1, President Trump nominated Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier to serve as the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The OSTP director has traditionally, but not always, held the title of Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, otherwise known as the president’s science advisor, but it is not clear if Droegemeier would fill this role as well. Dr. Droegemeier holds a Ph.D. in atmospheric science and has served on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma in Norman for 33 years and as the university’s vice president for research since 2009….

White House Outlines FY 2020 R&D Budget Priorities

On July 31, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Mick Mulvaney, with Michael Kratsios, Deputy Assistant Secretary to the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), issued a joint memorandum to federal agency and department heads on “FY 2020 Administration Research and Development Priorities.” The R&D memo lays out key White House priorities as agencies begin working on their budget submissions for the next fiscal year. The FY 2020 memo shares many priorities with the FY 2019 memo, including acknowledging the important role of science and technology to America’s global leadership and emphasizing national…

Trump Administration Releases Proposal to Reorganize the Federal Government

The Trump Administration released its comprehensive plan to restructure and reorganize the federal government on June 21, Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century, which includes proposals to make major changes to the federal bureaucracy and social safety net programs. This plan continues efforts by the Administration to restructure and reduce the size of the federal government. Implementing the majority of the reforms proposed would require Congressional action—and are therefore unlikely to be realized—but they provide clear insight into the priorities of the Administration and serve as a blueprint for possible actions over the next few years. The plan proposes…

White House SBS Team Celebrates One-Year Anniversary

On September 15, the White House’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) celebrated its one-year anniversary. SBST, a group of behavioral scientists within the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), is chaired by the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). It also includes the participation of federal agencies, departments, and White House offices. The 2016 Social and Behavioral Sciences Team Annual Report cites the progress made by the team in implementing President Obama’s Executive Order 13707, “Using Behavioral Science Insights to Better Serve the American People” (see Update, September 22, 2015). The 2016 report…

White House Releases First-Ever Working Group Report on Language and Communication

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s (OSTP) National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Subcommittee on Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences recently released the first ever, Report from the Interagency Working Group on Language and Communication, “an inventory of current programmatic activities across Federal agencies and departments that relate to the scientific and technological aspects of language and communication.” The report explains why the government and the American people benefit from its investments in R&D activities relating to language and communication. A key feature of the report is the Language and Communication R&D Taxonomy providing a “common framework…

White House Releases Antibiotic Resistance Action Plan

  On March 27, the White House released the National Action Plan for Combatting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. The Action Plan outlines “federal activities over the next five years to enhance domestic and international capacity to prevent and contain outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant infections; maintain the efficacy of current and new antibiotics; and develop and deploy next-generation diagnostics, antibiotics, vaccines, and other therapeutics.” The plan is consistent with an initiative in the President’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2016 that would allocate $1.2 billion to combatting antibiotic-resistance (see COSSA’s analysis). Back to this issue’s table of contents.

White House Issues Report on Expanding Opportunity and Addressing Challenges Facing Women and Girls of Color

On November 13, the White House Council on Women and Girls (CWG) released a report, Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity. The Council is chaired by Valerie Jarrett. The report highlights the tremendous achievements women of color have made; it also examines the inequities and “distinct” challenges facing women of color and looks at efforts underway to close the gaps in educational outcomes, pay, career opportunity, and health disparities, among other areas.

White House Hosts Conference on BRAIN Initiative

On September 30, the White House hosted a conference on President Obama’s BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative. The Initiative is a large-scale effort to provide researchers with important insights to treat a variety of disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and traumatic brain injury, among others. Four agencies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), have together committed more than $110 million to the Initiative in FY 2014 (see Update, April 7, 2014, pg. 26).

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