1 August 2018
AGU is pleased to see that President Trump has taken action to appoint Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, a well-qualified scientist from our community, to head the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). After nearly 560 days, the longest any Administration has been without such crucial science advice, this nomination has been long in coming.
AGU has been consistently outspoken about the need for an OSTP Director to ensure that sound science informs administration policies that have sweeping consequences for the nation’s economy, security, and public health, and well-being. In an AGU-led online petition launched 21 November 2016, AGU urged President Trump to make appointing a Science Advisor an immediate priority and on 24 February 2017, 10,000 signatures were delivered to the White House. In a From the Prow post earlier this year, AGU once again called upon President Trump to move quickly to choose a qualified Director to run OSTP.
As the Vice President for Research and Regents’ Professor of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and former vice-chair of the governing board of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Droegemeier not only has the scientific expertise necessary for this position but also experience advising policymakers and communicating science to a broad audience, skills that are crucial for the task at hand. He will have a tough job ahead of him. Without a director in place for such an extended period of time, personnel at OSTP have been essentially rudderless, working without clearly defined direction or goals. It will be the next Director’s job to bring strong leadership to the agency and chart a strategic direction for the office.
The pursuit of scientific knowledge has been integral to country’s global leadership and is essential for informed decision-making. With the issues we’re facing as a nation and world today – from updating deteriorating infrastructure to combating health epidemics, providing clean air and water and securing valuable natural resources and minerals – we will need the expertise of scientists from across disciplines. Heeding the advice of a qualified Science Advisor and OSTP Director can help to ensure that our nation makes the most informed decisions possible. Should Dr. Droegemeier be confirmed, AGU stands ready to assist him.
This appointment cannot come quickly enough – right now, wildfires are raging across the western U.S., Europe and the Arctic, while record setting heatwaves are scorching the globe and many communities in Puerto Rico and elsewhere are still struggling to rebuild after past storms. The counsel provided by Director and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to bring scientifically sound solutions to the pressing issues facing our nation is more important than ever. We strongly encourage President Trump to afford scientific advice from Dr. Droegemeier the full respect it deserves and to treat the Director of OSTP as a full White House Science Advisor, as past Presidents have done.