While the Obama Administration did appoint many top-level science and technology positions very quickly, my observations have been that the Administration has had trouble filling in the next level of positions. Recent changes at the Department of Energy demonstrate this pretty well.
Secretary Chu recently indicated that Acting Undersecretary of Energy Cathy Zoi would be leaving the Department. It’s one of several recent departures, which include Kristina Johnson, the woman who was the Undersecretary of Energy prior to Zoi taking the Acting job. Zoi was also serving as head of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The deputy in that office, Henry Kelly, will take the top job, and Arun Manjmuar, head of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, has been asked to serve as Acting Undersecretary while a permanent replacement is sought.
For those scoring at home, that’s a lot of double-duty and possible over-extending. As the Energy Department is the focus of many new projects, and the Administration sees it as a potential source of recovery-priming innovation, it would be nice if the senior leadership was at full strength.