“The director position has been vacant for more than a year, and we believe it is critical to appoint a well-qualified individual, with background in science or engineering, to this role as soon as possible,” Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Gary Peters of Michigan said in a letter on Thursday. The two are co-chairs of the Senate Science Forum.
The OSTP’s job is to advise the president on science matters that affect the country’s economy, national security, environment, health and foreign relations.
But the Trump administration has alienated many scientists, in particular over the issue of global climate change, and thousands protested the administration in a 2017 demonstration, the March for Science. Another march is planned for April 18, 2018.
The OSTP staffing level has plummeted since the Obama administration was in power, according to CBS News. Former OSTP Director John Holdren, who served during the presidency of Barack Obama, told the journal Science last year that the office had peaked at 135 employees but dropped to 35. “On 30 June the last scientist in the science division left,” he said.
The senators’ call for an OSTP director is not the first. In addition to requests in 2017, Democrats from the US House of Representatives pushed for an OSTP director in a Jan. 24 letter. “Your administration has repeatedly downplayed or ignored the importance of scientific fact and scientific research,” they wrote.
The White House and OSTP didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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On – 22 Mar, 2018 By Stephen Shankland