The Ornithological Council weighs in on key science positions in U.S. government

The Ornithological Council provided input about some of the key science and technology positions in the U.S. Government, as part of an effort to highlight these roles for the new administration.

The Day One Project, an initiative of the Federation of American Scientists, is developing a list of 100 key existing and proposed leadership roles across the federal government where scientific expertise is most critical. The OC submitted several positions to Day One, highlighting the role these positions play in ensuring science-based decision-making. At the departmental level, the OC highlighted the Science Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior, which offers key science support to the Secretary of the Interior. We also highlighted positions within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The OC submitted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director as a key position, given the position’s responsibility for applying scientific information to wildlife management and conservation decisions. We noted the importance of ensuring that the nominee for this position meets the statutory requirement to be knowledgeable in the principles of fisheries and wildlife management, through scientific education and experience. We also highlighted the Assistant Director for Science Applications, who works directly with, and reports directly to, the agency’s Director, helping to ensure that the director has the scientific information they need to make these key decisions.

The OC also submitted the USGS Director, noting that agency’s responsibility as the nation’s largest research agency devoted to providing science about natural resources, natural hazards, the health of our ecosystems and environment, and the impacts of climate and land-use change. We noted that during the Trump Administration, the USGS was criticized for denying climate change and preventing its scientists from speaking openly about it. Finally, we highlighted the USGS Chief Scientist position, noting that as one of the federal government’s leaders in basic research regarding our natural world, the USGS needs a top scientist who can support its career scientists and provide science-based, apolitical counsel to its Director.

Once the new administration is in place, Day One will track the administration’s progress on filling the 100 key roles it identifies.

UPDATE: The Day One Project released its initial list of the 100 top science and tech roles on Dec. 11.  Three of the positions that the OC identified – Interior Science Advisor, USGS Director, and USGS Chief Scientist – all made the list. The OC will track appointments for these and other key roles as the new administration fills them next year.