The federal government employs a surprising number of scientists. In addition to the thousands of researchers at federal laboratories, there are hundreds of scientific advisory committees, and eighty-three high-level science appointees. At the one year mark, President Trump is way behind his predecessors - either Obama or G.W. Bush – in filling those.
A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists finds that fewer than a quarter of the appointed positions have been filled, including the top job – director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who usually serves as the President’s top science advisor.
The scientific advisory committees are also languishing, with more than half meeting fewer times than directed by their charters. Most of the members of the National Park Service’s top advisory panel just quit because they hadn’t met once in the past year.
Genna Reed, a science and policy analyst in the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and lead author of the new report, says the lack of science advisors in this administration should be a concern, regardless of political views.
“Science isn’t the only consideration,” said Reed. “However, when science is not at all considered, then that becomes a problem.”