Menu

Majority of Top Government Science Jobs Unfilled

Only 12 positions out of 44 have received nominations, and half of Trump’s nominees have strong ties to the industries they would oversee, a new report shows.

Aug 31, 2017
Catherine Offord

ISTOCK, ATHERTONCUSTOMSNearly three-quarters of top federal science positions remain without nominations, and more than half of US President Donald Trump’s nominees have potentially problematic ties to the industries they would regulate, according to a new analysis from The Center for Investigative Reporting published in Reveal News yesterday (August 30). The analysis follows months of inaction on the appointment of scientific officials that have left many federal agencies without leadership roles.

“Even the external advisory bodies have really ground to a halt,” Andrew Rosenberg, director of The Center for Science and Democracy at the advocacy nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, tells Reveal. “The philosophy of this administration is that the most important thing we can do is deregulate.”

Of the 44 top federal science positions, 32 remain without any nominees at all. Of the nominated 12, only two have been appointed, and a further eight are awaiting a vote in the US Senate. In the meantime, federal agencies in charge of the nation’s science programs and billions of dollars in research spending are lacking oversight.

See “Trump Nominates Sam Clovis to Lead USDA Research”

“Staff can only go so far before they hit these empty seats,” Cristin Dorgelo, chief of staff in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under the Obama Administration, tells Reveal. “I’m most concerned about response to emerging situations, because in those moments, leaders are key, not just for setting the direction of the agencies, but raising up the needs, concerns and gaps to the White House and Congress for attention, action and investment.”

The current report notes that two of the candidates have no scientific background and six of the 12 nominees have strong ties to the industries they would be charged with overseeing. For example, Brett Giroir, Trump’s nominee for the position of assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, is also CEO of biopharmaceutical firm ViraCyte, which carries out the sort of clinical trials the department monitors. And confirmed Defense Department official Ellen Lord spent more than three decades working for Textron Systems—a Defense Department contractor—eventually becoming president and CEO in 2012.

Overall, Rosenburg notes, the administration’s approach reveals little interest in the science that informs policy—a sentiment that echoes that of Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science back in March when Trump nominated his first science advisor, physician Scott Gottlieb, to lead the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“I think it’s been common over the decades for science appointments to lag,” Holt told The Washington Post at the time. “It seems worse now, and it’s not just because the appointments are slow, but there really has been not even any rhetoric from the administration that shows that they think science is important to them.”

See “Trump Nominates Toxicologist for Key EPA Position”

June 2019

Living with Bacteria

Can pathogens be converted to commensals?

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Best Practices: Calculating Cell Confluency
Best Practices: Calculating Cell Confluency
In this white paper, learn how to use a cell imager system to directly and accurately capture and calculate cell confluency!
LabTwin's AI-powered Digital Assistant Now Talks Back and Connects Data Sources in the Lab with New Open API
LabTwin's AI-powered Digital Assistant Now Talks Back and Connects Data Sources in the Lab with New Open API
LabTwin GmbH, the world's first voice and AI-powered digital lab assistant, today announced its new open API that will connect scientists with data sources both inside and outside of the lab. 
BCG Digital Ventures and Sartorius Help Launch the World's First Voice-powered Digital Assistant for Scientists
BCG Digital Ventures and Sartorius Help Launch the World's First Voice-powered Digital Assistant for Scientists
LabTwin GmbH, an independent company backed by Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures (BCG Digital Ventures) and leading biopharma supplier, Sartorius, today announced the launch of the world's first voice and AI-powered digital lab assistant.
Understanding Transcriptomic or Proteomic Datasets to Reveal Biological Mechanisms
Understanding Transcriptomic or Proteomic Datasets to Reveal Biological Mechanisms
When analyzing large transcriptomics or proteomics datasets, we want to understand whether the phenomenon is unusual or commonplace and whether there are informative similarities to other areas of biology. To learn more about how Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA®) and Analysis Match can help, download this white paper from QIAGEN!