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Organizations Urge Next President to Move Swiftly on Science Adviser and Science-Related Issues
Nearly 180 organizations representing the business, education and scientific communities have urged the next president to appoint a White House science adviser by January 20—Inauguration Day—and give the adviser cabinet rank.
In 30 October letters to U.S. Senators John McCain and Barack Obama, AAAS joined the other organizations to note that addressing domestic and international challenges such as healthcare, energy costs, U.S. economic competitiveness, and global climate change will require scientific and technological ingenuity.
"It is therefore critical that the next President seek out and rely upon sound scientific and technological advice early and often in the new Administration," the organizations write. "It is essential that you be prepared to quickly appoint a science adviser who is a nationally respected leader with the appropriate scientific, management and policy skills necessary for this critically important role."
The organizations urge the next president to give the science adviser the title of Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and assign the position cabinet rank, the same status currently given to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Trade Representative.
President George W. Bush did not appoint John H. Marburger III as his science adviser until 25 June 2001—five months after taking office—and he did not give cabinet rank to the science post. Marburger, a physicist and former head of Brookhaven National Laboratory, was not confirmed by the Senate until 23 October 2001, after key policies on climate change and stem cell research already had been announced by the White House.
The letter to Obama and McCain was signed by Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Robert M. Berdahl, president of the Association of American Universities; Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president of the Council on Competitiveness; David M. Abshire, president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency; Richard Meserve, president of the Carnegie Institution for Science; and former U.S. Rep. John E. Porter (R-Illinois), chair of a committee of the National Academies on ensuring the best science and technology appointments in the new administration.
31 October 2008