In 1976, under President Gerald Ford, Congress established the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The idea was to create an advisory committee that could help a president decide how to focus his or her policy with regards to engineering and technology in order to make sure our economy and national security and innovation in the world continued to thrive. But as CBS News explains, never in the 41-year history of the OSTP has office gone as understaffed, leaderless, and without an actual mandate.
A White House official, when asked when there would be a nomination for OSTP director and science adviser to the president, said there were no personnel announcements to be made at this time.
Under Mr. Trump, the OSTP staff has dropped to 45 staffers, a substantial decline from President Obama’s OSTP, which had a staff of 135 people. Another difference from the Obama years — the majority of Mr. Trump’s OSTP staffers do not have a background in science. The office hasn’t formally been restructured, but a White House official said the team has “naturally” streamlined over the past few months with a narrowed focus on three main issues: technology, science, and national security.
That’s a department cut to a leaderless third of what it was just nine months ago. Just in case you wanted to know if this was normal.
“It was clear that [Obama] understood how and why science and technology matter to virtually every facet of the national agenda and that he would understand and run with good ideas presented to him,” said Dr. John Holdren, the former OSTP Director and senior science adviser to Mr. Obama. “Trump is a science and technology talent repellent.”