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President Trump Leaves Science and Technology Jobs Vacant

President Donald Trump

Washington, DC, April 4, 2017 — Cecilia Kang and Michael D. Shear reported in The New York Times that on the fourth floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the staff of the White House chief technology officer has been virtually deleted, down from 24 members before the election to, by Friday, only one.

Scores of departures by scientists and Silicon Valley technology experts who advised President Trump’s predecessor have all but wiped out the larger White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

President Trump has not yet named his top advisers on technology or science, and so far, has made just one hire: Michael Kratsios, the former chief of staff for Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor and one of the president’s wealthiest supporters, as the deputy chief technology officer.

Neither Mr. Kratsios, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Princeton, nor anyone else still working in the science and technology office regularly participates in Mr. Trump’s daily briefings, as they did for President Barack Obama.

“The impression this leaves is that Trump isn’t interested in science and that scientific matters are a low priority at the White House,” said Vinton G. Cerf, a computer scientist, vice president of Google and one of the chief architects of the internet.

The dwindling of the White House science and technology staff for scientific research could have long-term consequences, Mr. Cerf said.

It is unclear whether the vacancies are the result of the Trump administration’s overall slowness in hiring or a signal that the president places less importance on science and technology than Mr. Obama did.

A White House official who asked not to be identified cast the issue as one of timing: Mr. Trump, the official said, is still reviewing candidates to be his chief science adviser, considers the science and technology office important and will soon have a new staff for it.

But critics see the empty offices as part of a devaluation of science throughout the Trump administration, including the reversal of Mr. Obama’s climate change policies and proposals to sharply reduce spending for research on climate change, science and health.

They note that Mr. Obama appointed his top science adviser, John P. Holdren, a Harvard physicist and climate-change expert, in December 2008, weeks before his inauguration.

At the same time, conservatives — including a member of Mr. Trump’s transition team — have called for getting rid of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. (The chief technology officer is a part of that larger office.)

They argue that the office, created by Congress in 1976, is a bloated bureaucracy that duplicates expertise already found at government agencies.

For the full New York Times story, click here.