More Appointments, But No Confirmations

Since the last round of science and technology nominations I noted in early August, there have been two new nominations.  No confirmations, which suggest the new nominees will become old nominees before they become new confirmees.

One new nominee is for a position that has been unfilled for over 18 months: Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy.  Ellen Williams will remain on leave from the University of Maryland, where she is a University Distinguished Professor of Physics.  Her work has been in materials science, and her Ph.D. is in Chemistry.

She’s already on leave because she has been the Chief Scientist for BP (yes, *that* BP) since 2010.  (How long the University will allow her to remain on leave may influence the length of her tenure should she be confirmed.)

Also of note is the nomination of Rhea Suh as the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of Interior.  I find it of note because I was not aware of this position, which coordinates policies between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Parks Service.  Given what I’ve read about the current and previous occupants of the position (both of whom were involved in other tasks and/or held additional positions), it seems likely that the job is not meant to be too involved in day-to-day activities of either agency.

Again, confirmations remain a contentious issue for the current Congress and Administration.  As other (higher) profile positions remain subject to holds and delaying tactics, I don’t expect these lower tier positions to be confirmed quickly.