Report warns about politicizing science

/ Source: The Associated Press

Presidential appointments to senior science and technology posts should be filled more quickly and without regard to political affiliation, according to a report from the nonpartisan National Academies.

The group issued the report Wednesday amid concerns that appointments to the positions have become increasingly politicized. Scientists, engineers and health professionals should be chosen for government service based on their expertise and integrity, the report said, rather than party affiliation, voting record or personal positions on particular issues.

“Failure to attract qualified people to high-ranking S&T positions, or misuse of the federal advisory committee system, would compromise the government’s effectiveness on important issues,” John E. Porter, chair of the committee that wrote the report, said in a statement.

The National Academies is a group of congressionally chartered organizations created to advise the nation on science, engineering and medical matters.

The report recommends that immediately following national elections, the president or president-elect should name a confidential assistant to provide advice and help quickly identify strong candidates for crucial science and technology positions.

Scientists, engineers and health professionals serve on roughly 1,000 federal science and technology advisory committees, examining issues such as safety standards for drinking water and biodefense priorities.