Sen. Chuck Grassley Seeking Information on Science Fellows Serving in the Biden Administration

In December, Politico reported on what some view as a growing influence of Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO, in the Biden Administration. The article cited financial support provided by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), which receives funding from Schmidt, for salaries of fellows serving in the Administration under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program. The IPA program is widely used across the federal government to allow for the temporary placement of non-governmental employees to federal agency posts for a short period of time “when this movement serves a sound public purpose.” The employees’ salaries are paid by their sponsoring organization, not the federal government; however, there are limits on the types of organizations that can participate (i.e., for-profit organizations are prohibited).

In letters to 10 federal departments, agencies and offices, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has requested additional information on the IPA appointments made specifically through FAS’s Day One Project. Given its ties to Schmidt, Grassley alleges that conflicts of interest may exist with the placement of the FAS fellows, specifically related to Administration actions on technology investments in areas like AI and quantum. Grassley has requested that each agency provide information on the assignees and their salary sources, employment agreements, and all other records referencing FAS, the Day One Project, and Schmidt’s various activities, by January 24. Given that the Democrats still hold the majority in the Senate, it is unclear whether this probe will gain traction in Congress. However, COSSA will continue to closely monitor this and other oversight activities pertaining to science policy in the federal government.  


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