The National Science Board Has A Mighty Thin Skin?

Put this in the pile of things that suggest to me that U.S. science policy decision-makers can be challenged to find the forest for the trees.

Per a report from Jeffrey Mervis on ScienceInsider, the appointees of the National Science Board were a bit out of sorts when they heard their positions would no longer require Senate confirmation.  New Board chair Dan Arvizu indicated that some board members were a bit upset by the change, in particular by the other positions that no longer require Senate confirmation.  This led members to believe that Congress had other things in mind for the Board.

Regrettably, I lack the imagination to jump to that conclusion (without prompting), and Mervis was unable to confirm anything more specific.  He chalks up the ruffled feathers to a perception of increased status given positions that require Senate confirmation.  I find it more likely that National Science Foundation staff failed to adequately brief Board members.  (I also find it more likely that people not in science and technology policy really don’t care about whether a science or technical appointment was confirmed by the Senate.)

But I’m also sore about the amount of delay associated with getting scientific and technical appointments ready and in office with minimal disruption to the operation of their agencies.  These ruffled feathers aren’t going to help minimize those disruptions.

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