While the Obama Administration got off to a great start with its science and technology appointments, it has stumbled in getting the second-tier science and technology positions filled. While the inability of Congress to do its job has something to do with this, it’s been a challenge to find people all the same.
The latest round of recess appointments includes the nominee for the Under Secretary for Food Safety at the Agriculture Department, Elisabeth Hagen. The position has been open for 18 months. Hagen is currently the Department’s Chief Medical Officer, and has also worked in the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service. Her background is in medicine, however, and not the consumer safety background considered typical for the position. But with a growing salmonella outbreak affecting eggs, it would be good to have someone in the position rather than an empty chair.
The empty chair worth noting, particularly with the rulemaking in progress on conflicts of interest policies at the National Institutes of Health, is at the Office of Research Integrity. The Scientist passes word that there has been no Director of the office since March of 2009. This position requires no Senate confirmation. A search is supposedly underway, but no timeline for a selection has been announced.