President's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP): Issues for Congress [February 7, 2014]   [open pdf - 808KB]

"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.' The President nominates the OSTP Director, who is subject to confirmation by the Senate. In many Administrations, the President has concurrently appointed the OSTP Director to the position of Assistant to the President for Science and Technology (APST), a position that allows for the provision of confidential advice to the President on matters of science and technology. While Congress can require the OSTP Director to testify, the APST may decline requests to testify on the basis of separation of powers and/or executive privilege. The APST manages the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), an interagency body established by Executive Order 12881 that coordinates science and technology (S&T) policy across the federal government. The APST also co-chairs the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), a council established by Executive Order 13539 and composed of external advisors who provide advice to the President. In the Obama Administration, John Holdren is both the OSTP Director and the APST."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL34736
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