Most scientists would assert that it is an understatement to say that there have been concerns within the scientific community about how science has and has not been used to inform policy decisions during the George W. Bush presidency. At a recent Washington, DC, press conference, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars released a new report intended to prompt the next President to revisit how the White House receives scientific advice. The report, “OSTP 2.0: Critical Upgrade,” is timely, both presidential candidates are expected to begin developing a transition team in this summer.

As former Indiana congressman and Wilson Center director Lee Hamilton noted during the press briefing, “there is a need to strengthen the relationship between scientists and policymakers”. Hamilton continued, “can’t understate the importance of strengthening the dialogue.”

The report was informed by past science advisors from Democratic and Republican administrations, as well as interviews with other experts and an extensive literature review, according to report authors.

The science and technology policymaking capacity of the White House must be enhanced so that the next president can better address key issues facing the nation—from energy and the environment, to national security and the ability of the United States to compete and collaborate internationally, according to materials accompanying the report. Key recommendations in the report include:

  1. The next President quickly appoint a nationally respected leader to be Assistant for Science and Technology Policy who will serve at the Cabinet level;
  2. The Office of Science and Technology Policy be funded adequately, staffed fully, and integrated closely with other policymaking bodies within the White House; and,
  3. Robust mechanisms to obtain expert and timely advice be established and maintained through the President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology, the President’s Council on Innovation and Competitiveness, the National Science and Technology Council, the National Academies, and a Federal-State Science and Technology Council.

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