On October 27, 2020, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a report describing President Trump’s science and technology (S&T) accomplishments during his first term in office. Notably, a press statement released along with the report highlighted “ending the COVID-19 pandemic” as one of the achievements.
The report, Advancing America’s Global Leadership in Science and Technology – Trump Administration Highlights: 2017-2020, enumerates “significant investments, policies, and other actions” undertaken by the Administration to advance science and technology progress.
“President Trump has solidified America’s standing as the most scientifically and technologically advanced nation the world has ever known,” stated OSTP Director, Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier. “We’ve announced unprecedented investments in artificial intelligence and quantum information science, launched new workforce initiatives and public-private collaborations, and established first-of-their-kind international alliances to develop critical technologies with our allies,” said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios.
The largest section of the report was dedicated to the achievements in promoting the five “Industries of the Future” which included artificial intelligence, quantum information science, and biotechnology. Specifically, the Trump Administration boasts its efforts in modernizing the regulatory approval process for agricultural biotechnology products and the creation of a new interagency Subcommittee on Bioeconomy S&T within the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC).
The report highlights the Administration’s efforts in improving health security and innovation, including measures undertaken to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike the press statement, the report itself does not specify ending the pandemic as an achievement, but it does expound on the efforts made by the administration to fast-track a vaccine against COVID-19, through the Operation Warp Speed program, and its critical role in supporting research and development and related activities.
In addition, the document highlights the many different ways in which the “the federal government has taken action to understand and protect our environment to ensure that the American people will have clean air, clean water, and a resilient environment for generations to come.” The report describes actions taken in “exploring, preserving, & protecting our oceans,” the Trillion Tree’s Initiative, along with the Administration’s efforts in predicting “extreme environmental events.”
Another section of the report discusses efforts in “building the S&T workforce.” The Administration highlights its efforts to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, including creating the Federal STEM Education Strategic Plan released by the NSTC Committee on STEM Education in 2018, “expanding access to high-quality STEM and computer science education to K-12 students” through a 2017 Presidential Memorandum, and partnering with different institutions to launch the National Q-12 Education Partnership.
Despite the Administration’s repeated proposals to drastically cut funding for scientific research, the report touts its efforts in “promoting & protecting the research enterprise”. Specifically, the document discusses how the Trump Administration initiated the Joint Committee on Research Environment (JCORE) in 2019 to bring “together government, academia, and many others to address administrative burdens on federally funded research; improve rigor and integrity in research; create safe, inclusive, and equitable research settings; and protect our research assets while ensuring the research enterprise remains open and collaborative.”