Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP): History and Overview [June 22, 2016] [open pdf - 1MB]
"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, '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.' […] Several recurrent OSTP issues face Congress: the need for science advice within the EOP; the title, rank, and responsibilities of the OSTP Director; the policy areas for OSTP focus; the funding and staffing for OSTP; the roles and functions of OSTP and NSTC [National Science and Technology Council] in setting federal science and technology policy; and the status and influence of PCAST. Some in the S&T community support raising the OSTP Director to Cabinet rank, contending that this would imbue the position with greater influence within the EOP. Others have proposed that the OSTP Director play a greater role in federal agency coordination, priority setting, and budget allocation. Both the Administration and Congress have identified areas of policy focus for OSTP staff, raising questions of prioritization and oversight. Some experts say NSTC has insufficient authority over federal agencies engaged in science and technology activities and that PCAST [President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology] has insufficient influence on S&T policy; they question the overall coordination of federal science and technology activities. Finally, some in the scientific community support increasing the authority of the OSTP Director in the budget process to bring greater science and technology expertise to federal investment decision making."
CRS Report for Congress, R43935
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html