OSTP Director Highlights Priorities in Remarks at AAAS Annual Meeting

February 2019

Kelvin Droegemeier, the new director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), was sworn into office on February 11. The Senate passed Droegemeier’s nomination on January 2, prior to the adjournment of the 115th Congress.

Droegemeier gave his first public remarks on February 15 during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His speech highlighted three priorities that he has for federal research and development (R&D) policy: (1) understanding the R&D ecosystem in a new context, (2) leveraging partnerships across the university and private sectors, and (3) providing safe, welcoming, and accommodating environments for research.

On the first priority, Droegemeier proposed an assessment of the R&D portfolio across all sectors. He pointed to artificial intelligence as an example of where a portfolio approach would be helpful to understand how the different research sectors and disciplines are supporting the work. The ultimate goal of this assessment would be to reduce duplication and increase collaboration.

The second priority builds on work that Droegemeier began in Oklahoma to further develop partnerships between universities and private industry, particularly in data analytics, facilities, and intellectual property. He also called for reviving “blue sky industrial research labs” that would be housed at universities, but supported with private industry and nonprofit foundations.

Lastly, Droegemeier emphasized the need to ensure that scientists are able to conduct their work in safe and welcoming environments that are free from harassment.

“I see our community as a way to light a path for others, not only in the words we speak, but in the actions that we take as well,” Droegemeier said.  

Droegemeier also mentioned some of the efforts that OSTP has taken on so far in the Trump administration, including a recent report on improving access to STEM education, a road map on artificial intelligence, and work to address the opioid crisis.