With confirmation votes from the Senate more rare and infrequent these days, I’ve not been as diligent in tracking the announcements of nominations. Two recently announced science and technology nominees help detail the problem.
Thomas Burke has been re-nominated to serve as Assistant Administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the Office of Research and Development. Since his initial nomination last year, Burke did join the EPA, but as a Deputy Assistant Administrator in the same office (likely due to that position not requiring Senate confirmation). Burke’s eventual predecessor, Paul Anastas, left the position back in 2012.
Another renomination was for the position of Director at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The current Acting Director, Dr. Willie May, was renominated in February. With Burke and May both in place at their intended agencies, their confirmations are likely a lesser priority for the administration and Congress.
Wanda Austin was appointed to serve on the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST) just before its March 27 meeting. Austin is the President and CEO of the Aerospace Corporation, where she has worked since 1979. Her education is in mathematics and systems engineering, and besides her PCAST service, Austin is also a member of the NASA Advisory Council and the Defense Science Board.