From ScienceInsider, word that Suzette Kimball will be nominated to serve as the next Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Her background is in coastal geology, and she has been with the USGS since 1998.
In other science and technology nomination news, Janet McCabe has been nominated to replace Gina McCarthy as the Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation at the Enivronmental Protection Agency (EPA). McCarthy was confirmed (back in July) to become the new Administrator of the EPA and McCabe became Acting Assistant Administrator. McCabe has been with the EPA since 2009, and has a long history of work with state environmental agencies before joining the agency. Thomas Burke of John Hopkins University has been nominated to serve the EPA as Assistant Administrator for Research and Development. Burke would be replacing Paul Anastas, who left the position over a year ago to return to his green chemistry center at Yale. Burke’s training is in public health.
Perhaps a sign of how underwater the administration is on nominations, Burke’s nomination was reported back in November, and Jo Handelsman’s nomination to serve as Associate Director for Science at the Office of Science and Technology Policy was announced back in August. Both were on this list of nominees released on January 8, in part because the new session of Congress may require resending the nominations.
If junior leadership science and technology positions are going to be filled by long-time agency employees after months-long searches (something not unique to this administration, especially in a second term), some reflection may be in order. While I don’t expect Congress to idly sit by while the number of confirmation positions is reduced, at what point do the benefits of having a permanent official in job outweigh the benefits of a specific kind of Congressional oversight?