Scientific Society CEOs Ask Trump to Draw on S&T Expertise

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Publication date: 
28 November 2016

In a letter to President-elect Donald Trump, the CEOs of 29 national scientific societies are calling on Trump to quickly appoint a science advisor and draw on S&T expertise to address national challenges.

Last Wednesday, the CEOs of 29 national scientific and higher education societies submitted a letter to President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team that draws attention to the role that science and technology will play in his presidency as well as its importance in addressing many of the nation’s most pressing challenges. The letter concludes with a set of offers to assist the transition team with “developing a path forward to ensure that U.S. innovation infrastructure grows and flourishes under your administration” and to provide counsel on candidates for top S&T positions in the federal government.

The letter is the product of a working group of scientific society CEOs that meets regularly to discuss issues that affect the scientific community. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) played a lead role in drafting and organizing the letter. Signatories include Rush D. Holt, CEO of AAAS and a former congressman; Robert G.W. Brown, CEO of AIP; Kevin B. Marvel, Executive Officer of the American Astronomical Society; Kate P. Kirby, CEO of the American Physical Society; and Elizabeth A. Rogan, CEO of the Optical Society; among others. (The American Astronomical Society, American Physical Society, and Optical Society are AIP Member Societies.)

As FYI has reported since the Nov. 8 general election, Trump’s plans for the federal S&T enterprise and approach to science policy are largely unknown. For more details on what is known, see FYI #141 Science Appointments in the Trump Administration, FYI #143 Trump’s Science Policy Remains Unclear, and FYI #146 Advocate of Eliminating OSTP Appointed to Trump Transition Team.

The letter reads:

On behalf of the U.S. scientific, engineering, and higher education community we are looking forward to working with you, as 45th President of the United States, and your administration.

As President you will face a wide range of domestic and international challenges, from protecting national and energy security, to ensuring U.S. economic competitiveness, curing diseases, and responding to natural disasters. These challenges share one thing in common: scientific knowledge and technological expertise to address them successfully.

For this reason, we urge that you quickly appoint a science advisor with the title of Assistant to the President for Science and Technology who is a nationally respected leader with the appropriate engineering, scientific, management and policy skills necessary for this critically important role. This senior level advisor can assist you in determining effective ways to use science and technology to address major national challenges. Moreover, this individual can coordinate relevant science and technology policy and personnel decisions within the executive branch of government.

The economic benefits of advancements in science, technology and innovation have been well documented, estimated by leading economists to have accounted for approximately half of U.S. economic growth over the last fifty years. Past government investments in the U.S. scientific and technology enterprise have fueled our economy, created new jobs, and ensured our global competitiveness and national security. At the same time, these investments have enabled the development of a system of U.S. research universities and national laboratories unmatched in the world.

We know that one of your top priorities will be to focus on ensuring that the U.S. economy remains strong and continues to grow. If we are to maintain America’s global leadership, and respond to the economic and security challenges currently facing the nation, we must build on our strong history of federal support for innovation, entrepreneurship and science and technology.

Toward that end we would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you or leaders of your transition team to discuss how the science and engineering community can assist with developing a path forward to ensure that the U.S. innovation infrastructure grows and flourishes under your administration and to suggest candidates for top science and technology posts.


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