Committee Democrats Review OSTP’s Initiatives and Challenges
(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held an oversight hearing on the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to examine its roles, responsibilities, operations and management, and its function in helping shape our national science policy. Testifying before the Committee was Dr. John P. Holdren, Director of OSTP and Assistant to the President for Science and Technology Policy.
OSTP was established by Congress in 1976 with a broad mandate to advise the President and others within the Executive Office of the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The 1976 Act also authorizes OSTP to lead interagency efforts to develop and implement sound science and technology policies and budgets and to work with the private sector, state and local governments, the scientific and higher education communities, and other nations toward this end.
Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) said in her opening statement, “We live in an increasingly complex world, and the challenges we face will be both impacted by and—hopefully—alleviated by science and technology. As Americans, we should celebrate the fact that a highly respected scientist such as Dr. Holdren has the ear of the President and is truly part of his inner circle of advisors on matters of science and technology.”
“Science, technology, and innovation have been at the core of the American success story since the days of the Founding Fathers,” said Dr. Holdren in his testimony. “Advances in agronomy, electrification, mechanized transportation, and wireless communication have each, in their time, brought waves of economic growth, generated new opportunities, industries, and jobs, and—increasingly—posed difficult decisions and policy dilemmas. How to satisfy our Nation’s energy needs without compromising its environment? How to ensure that increasingly sophisticated healthcare will remain affordable for those who need it? How to exercise our freedom to chat over the airwaves without losing our identities or privacy in the process?”
Dr. Holdren went on to discuss the myriad responsibilities that OSTP has, “While OSTP has had a long and strong history as the epicenter of White House science and technology policymaking and as a key source of sound advice to the President and other Administration officials on S&T-related issues, its responsibilities have become even more demanding in this Administration because of the magnitude of the economic challenges facing the country and the strong historical and projected role of science, technology, and innovation in economic growth and job creation. At the heart of OSTP’s expanded efforts in this domain have been initiatives – many in partnership with other White House offices – to promote advanced manufacturing; create new public-private partnerships in areas such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; and improve access to government data and services. OSTP continues to play key roles supporting the Administration’s priorities in energy, space, environmental monitoring, STEM education, climate change, scientific integrity, regulatory reform, and cybersecurity, among others.”
Ms. Johnson said to Dr. Holdren, “The truth is that OSTP has been asked to do a lot by both Congress and the President. In addition to your more visible initiatives, I know that you have to carry out necessary interagency coordination—a job that probably goes underappreciated and undervalued by all of us. Dr. Holdren, you face many challenges, some of which you inherited, such as the NOAA satellite program, and others that are more recent, such as the arm-twisting you probably had to do to get agencies to complete their scientific integrity policies. I think we forget sometimes that your actual authority is limited and that much of what you accomplish you do through leadership, persuasion, and persistence. You have an important responsibility, and we want you to succeed.”