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Trump reestablishes council to advise him on science, tech, innovation and education policy

October 24, 2019
By: Ellen Marrison

President Donald Trump this week issued an executive order reinstituting the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to advise the president on matters involving science, technology, education, and innovation policy and named the first seven people to the council. The council will also provide the president with “scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the American economy, the American worker, national and homeland security, and other topics.”

According to a report last year from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy on the role of PCAST, the current model for PCAST was active in the past four administrations, and while President Trump had renewed the PCAST charter earlier in his administration, the Department of Energy had eliminated appropriations for PCAST from its FY 2018 and FY 2019 budget requests. However, the current executive order states that funding, administrative and technical support will be provided by the Department of Energy. The report found that despite differing administrations’ priorities and how they utilized the council, it was effective in generating policy and advising the president.  

The Baker report urged that if the council is to have an impact, the White House should give special attention to the diversity of the council’s makeup (in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, experience, and areas of expertise), and be adequately funded. The president has announced the first seven of the 16 members of the council, with the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Kelvin Droegemeier, serving as the chair of the PCAST. While six of the seven appointees in this first group come from corporate settings, OSTP has indicated that the next group of appointees will include more academic researchers. Current appointees are listed below.

Catherine Bessant is chief operations and technology officer, Bank of America, Charlotte[1]

Dr. Dario Gil is director of IBM Research, New York[2]

Dr. Sharon Hrynkow is chief scientific officer at CTD Holdings, Gainesville[3]

Dr. H. Fisk Johnson is chairman and CEO of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., Racine, WI[4]

Dr. Attiganal N. Sreeram is senior VP R&D/TO of Dow, Inc., Midland, MI[5]

Shane Wall is the chief technology officer for HP and the Director of HP Labs, Vancouver, WA[6]

Dr. K. Birgitta Whaley is a professor of chemistry and director of the Berkeley Quantum Information and Computation Center at Berkeley University, Berkeley, CA[7]


science policy