President's Office of Science and Technology Policy: Issues for Congress [December 24, 2008] [open pdf - 1MB]
"Congress may consider several legislative options regarding OSTP [Office of Science and Technology Policy]. First, it may wish to allow the President to have autonomy over OSTP. Currently, the President maintains discretion over the policies, structure, and personnel of OSTP, NSTC [National Science and Technology Council], and PCAST [President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology], often through executive orders. Second, Congress may wish to evaluate whether or not OSTP is still needed within the EOP [Executive Office of the President]. If so, Congress can continue its current OSTP legislative guidance mechanisms, or it can increase the intensity with which it applies those mechanisms. Congress annually evaluates OSTP through the regular authorization and appropriations process, and introduces issue-specific bills that identify actions and issues on which Members of Congress believe OSTP should focus. An alternative is for Congress to increase the intensity of its evaluation by holding oversight hearings on OSTP, or by amending OSTP's authorization statute. When Congress evaluates the various policy options, a factor to consider is that the OSTP Director's influence in the EOP may depend more on the relationship between whomever is appointed to that position and the President than legislative action. On December 20, 2008, President-elect Obama stated his intention to appoint Dr. John Holdren as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology (APST), OSTP Director, and Co-Chair of PCAST, and that 'promoting science isn't just about providing resources--it's about protecting free and open inquiry.' He also indicated his intention to appoint Dr. Harold Varmus and Dr. Eric Lander as the other co-chairs of PCAST."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34736
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