President's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP): Issues for Congress [April 12, 2013] [open pdf - 735KB]
"Congress established the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) through the National Science and Technology Policy, Organization, and Priorities Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-282). The act states that 'The primary function of the OSTP Director is to provide, within the Executive Office of the President [EOP], advice on the scientific, engineering, and technological aspects of issues that require attention at the highest level of Government.' Further, 'The Office shall serve as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans, and programs of the Federal Government.' […] In FY2011, Congress sought to restrict OSTP from engaging in certain activities with China or any Chinese-owned company by prohibiting the use of appropriated funds for these activities (P.L. 112-10). The OSTP expended a portion of its FY2011 appropriation to engage in activities with China that Congress sought to proscribe. The Department of Justice and OSTP asserted that this congressional effort infringed upon the President's constitutional authority to conduct foreign diplomacy. In contrast, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that OSTP violated the Antideficiency Act, though it did not speak to the constitutional issue. Congress enacted a similar restriction for FY2012 (P.L. 112-55) and FY2013 (P.L. 113-6) and may continue its interest in the debate over its ability to restrict the activities of OSTP. Among other issues Congress may wish to consider are the need for science advice within the EOP; the title, rank, and responsibilities of the OSTP Director; the policy foci of OSTP; the funding and staffing for OSTP; the roles and functions of OSTP and NSTC in setting federal science and technology policy; and the status and influence of PCAST [President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology]."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34736