In DepthU.S. Science Policy

Trump's science shop is small and waiting for leadership

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Science  14 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6347, pp. 117
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6347.117

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The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is open for business under President Donald Trump. But so far it’s a shadow of its former self under President Barack Obama. The 1976 law that created OSTP lets presidents tailor the office to fit their priorities. Under Obama, OSTP grew to a record size and played a role in all the administration’s numerous science and technology initiatives. In contrast, Trump has all but ignored OSTP during his first 6 months in office, keeping it small and excluding it from even a cursory role in formulating science-related policies and spending plans. OSTP is not alone across the federal government in awaiting a new crop of key managers. But such inaction can be paralyzing for a small shop. Trump has yet to nominate an OSTP director, who traditionally also serves as the president’s science adviser. Nor has he announced his choices for as many as four other senior OSTP officials who would need to be confirmed by the Senate. An administration official, however, told Science this week that an unofficial reshuffling of OSTP’s work flow is underway—and that there’s a short list for the director’s position.