Half-way into Trump’s term, the Senate has confirmed a director for the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the agency that coordinates science policy across the federal government. In a voice vote Jan. 2, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Kelvin Droegemeier to be director of the OSTP. He will serve as Trump’s top science advisor, providing guidance on key technology issues, including AI, quantum and high-performance computing.
The Trump administration nominated Droegemeier on Aug. 1 and a Senate panel approved the pick on Sept. 5. The position has been officially vacant since John P. Holdren stepped down with the outgoing Obama administration. Absent a director, Trump’s Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios has been the de facto leader of the OSTP.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., praised Droegemeier’s confirmation. “The Senate has confirmed a highly respected scientist and academic to help further our nation’s economic competitiveness and national security,” he said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to working with Dr. Droegemeier and expect his leadership will benefit the scientific community and our nation.”
The incoming OSTP director is an esteemed meteorologist from the University of Oklahoma specializing in severe weather events. He served on the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, for 12 years during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations and was vice-chair for the last four of those years.
OSTP is one of several federal agencies affected by the ongoing partial government shutdown and is relegated to a handful of “essential employees.” Droegemeier is currently in Oklahoma for the holidays and awaiting word on how the shutdown affects his position and official start date.
The news of the confirmation has been met with a mostly positive response from the U.S. science community.
At his confirmation hearing in August, Droegemeier stated, “my role if I’m confirmed as director of OSTP, is to bring unbiased science, the best science available, to the executive branch, to all the parties, and make sure that that information is at the table and available for policy making.”