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John H. Marburger III: A Look Back—and a Look to the Next Administration
After nearly seven years as the White House science adviser, John H. Marburger III came to the AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy in a reflective mood: He defended the record of President George W. Bush in research and development spending, expressed regret for some major initiatives that have yet to take off, and offered some advice about the challenges awaiting his successor.
But in a keynote address that spanned a range of issues and perspectives, Marburger consistently stressed the need for scientists to take the long view. Policy isn't made in a year, or even in a single presidential term, he said, but is instead a slow, cumulative process. And he urged scientists to make personal and professional sacrifices in order to take part in that process.
The policy context for the incoming presidential administration "begins immediately with the need for scientists and engineers who may be recruited by the next president to prepare themselves to say 'yes,' despite what may seem to be enormous down-sides to this and other senior positions in the executive branch," he told a crowd of several hundred researchers and science policy experts. "Whoever becomes President, whatever party gains or loses power, and regardless of the specific policy environment in the next administration, our government needs men and women who understand the science and engineering machinery in our society, and are prepared to make it work for our nation."
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