.@fordschool - STPP Lecture Series - Science and Technology Policy in the Trump Era
I. My. Name is Nick wiggenton I'm an assistant vice president for, research here, at University of Michigan and I'm. Very excited, today to introduce. This. Panel. On science and technology policy in the trump era before, I do I just want to get a quick plug in for an upcoming, speaker, hosted by s TPP later this year, dr.. Varughese Bowman, from the University of Arkansas, will be here on march 19th, to discuss, digital, development, governance, the state and Information. Technology in, East Africa. Professor. Kintaro Toyama from the. School of information will, be the discussants, so please do join us for that. Now. For today's panel which is sponsored by s TPP. The Rackham, graduate school, and the ufm Office of Research which, we were happy to support, today, singh's, how it based on you know the headlines that. Keep cycling. Through my phone today. You. Know federal policy around research and science is very important, for helping, you of M maintain, our status as the number one public research university, in the country. So. We have a wonderful group group. Of alumni. Here with us who can help us understand, Science and Technology Policy in today's. Rapidly evolving, political, environment, first. We have dr.. Christopher, Avery who is senior global. Client assessments, manager at ICF international, currently. He, serves as, the, deputy director of the National Climate Assessment at, the u.s. global. Change research, program in, this role he has managed the development writing. And publication process, of the NCA and other ongoing, science. Assessments. Before. This position he held a number of senior positions both at the National Council for science. In the environment, and the Department of Energy's energy. Efficiency, and renewable energy office. Previously. He was a triple is congressional, fellow. Mirzayance. Science and Technology Policy fellow, at the National Academies and. Before. That he earned his master's, and PhD in analytical chemistry, here at U of M with, the SDP graduates, or the certificate. Our. Next panelist, is dr.. Usha. Matthew Aisha is currently a triple is fellow. And depart, of defense and previously, served on, the California. Council on science and technology policy, in the office the office of. Assemblymember. Jose Medina who, then retained her as a legislative, aide and communications. Director in that capacity she briefed, the Assemblymember on a range of policy issues, including. Health transportation and, education in. Addition to staffing bills she also handled communications, including. Press releases op-eds, interviews, and outreach, aisha. Obtained, a PhD in cell and molecular biology here. At U of M with an S TPP, graduate, certificate. And. Our final panel panelists. Today as Michelle Hyneman Michelle. Is a researcher, at the Science and Technology Policy Institute a, federally. Funded research and development center in DC. That provides, rigorous, and objective analysis, for the formulation, of National, Science and Technology Policy. Supporting. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and other federal science, agencies. Prior. To joining s TPI she, served as a summer associate at OSTP. Addressing. Policy issues in the environment energy domain under the Obama administration. Michelle. Holds a master's of Public Policy from the University of Michigan with. An Stepp certificate, and, a bachelor's, in chemical, engineering from the University of Alabama. So. The way this will work is each of the panelists, will give. Some brief remarks which will be followed by a panel discussion moderated, by dr. Shobha. Parthasarathy, and. She. Is an associate professor of public policy in women's studies and also director of Stepp. Following. The panel discussion we'll, take questions from, the audience so. Beginning, around 4:40. Staff. Which includes Nikita, which, is back. There and Katie right. There, they'll. Start collecting cards, and then to. Students. Pete. And Lindsey in the front row here along, with Professor joy rody. Will. Facilitate the Q&A, session, so make. Sure to find Katie or Nikita during the talk to, get your questions in and if, you're following along online please. Post. Your questions to Twitter using. The hashtag policytalks. Okay. So without further ado I'd. Like to invite our panelist, dr. Chris Avery to the podium. Sorry. So. Hi everyone it's. Very, cool to be back in a room that I spent. Many hours as a student, I think it's chance to talk to a little bit before. I begin a, couple. Of things I want to say one I want to say thank you to the, Ford school STP the, Office of Research and Rackham for bringing, us back here there, are a lot of really, cool alumni, bit from Michigan doing really cool things and I don't often think of myself as one of them but I'm grateful. To be to be back and get a chance to do that I, also.
Want To say right up front just. Very. Clearly set the stage I am NOT here representing, or on behalf of the US federal government I'm. Not representing, my company ICF. I'm. Here as an alumni so I'm here to say what, I think personally, me as a human and I'm not representing. Any government or company so, I want to make that clear and I'm sure my colleagues will echo. Something. So. We talked a little bit before this, panel just to kind of get a sense of what, each of us were thinking on this particular topic and kind of we. Each have our own little kind of thought process I think but the thing that that. I, figured, I would spend my my limited time on is just. An. Interesting change that I've seen in DC, and the. Science policy community, in, the last two, years actually not this, I think this started before, the. Current president, was elected. That. I think, I've seen a bit of a change in, how science, policy, is, he's, treated, and thought of, broadly. Speaking in, in. The DC world in the policy world and I guess what, I'm really getting toward is, many. Of you who've gone through the Stepp coursework. Have have, heard the phrase honest, broker. Scientist. As an honest broker and, the, teachers here the professors here do a really great job of showing how problematic, that particular description, is, and all. Of that is still true but. What I've actually started, to see more recently and some. Of this is colored by my own, work in the climate science space is, a. Rise. In an. Actual real, version. Of an. Honest broker in as. A scientist, in a policy space. On. The anyone, here would claim that we are in a politically, neutral and, happy time. We. Are we're in a politically, contentious, time and that's. Been going on for long enough that, a lot, of citizens and a lot of politicians are, looking. For for. Places. To. Whatever. Version they think it is accomplished, something to to to, compromise, in some way shape or form to, do whatever it is that motivated, them to be where they're out be where they're are and do what they're doing and. One. Of the things that I that has come out of that from what I've seen that I find unexpected is that science. Broadly. Speaking and, not universally, applied seems. To have, found. A space in this political conflict. To. Be a safe. Space for both sides and I've. Seen a lot of opportunities, where, scientists, in in small ways have. Been, able to come in as an as an honest mediator of fact in between and. I. Think one, of the one. Of the the secrets of success, of that particular perspective. Has. Actually, been around the rise of scientist, as a political, actor which, is a bizarre, flip. Of where there were you probably thought I was going with this but. What. I think. Finally. Happened. Is a recognition, that scientists. Are human. And therefore. We have human nature's, and personal, political beliefs, and, acknowledging. That and, being upfront and honest about that and trying. To articulate, yes I believe this. However. Separate. From that the. Facts as the scientific community broadly.
Speaking Understand. The world to be is this, and it may or may not align with what I believe and that's okay either way but. I as, a scientist, I'm giving you these facts now I as a human and a citizen and a, person with values, want, you to do. And. What I found is that it. Hasn't necessarily changed outcomes. But what it has done is, provide, some. Type of a mental framework, for policymakers, to. Understand, how scientists, can simultaneously be. A, trusted. Neutral source and a partisan, political actor, and, I don't mean partisan in a pejorative sense I just mean partisan, and we all have. Sides. And whatever issue we're, talking about that we all come down on so. I think. What I've seen so. Far and it's it's it, hasn't been, Universal, and it hasn't been one. Direction, and people have screwed, it up but. I've. Seen a broader understanding of. We. Need to stop pretending that we aren't human and that. By acknowledging our, own humanity, and some of our own biases, we've. Actually been able to find some areas where we can remove ourselves from, the politics. Which. I think has surprised a lot of scientific actors, in the in the DC area. There. Are probably a ton of examples where someone. Could could show that I'm wrong, but. I would, say the. Climate space especially I've, seen a. Really, significant, value, of scientist, engaging in the policy space with honesty, you. Know I think most, climate, scientists, in the world are pretty strong viewed, on what they think should happen. As a result of the science knowledge. And. What I've seen scientists. Who are successfully. Engaging in this space in, a way with people who disagree, on the, facts of reality of climate change. What. I've seen them effectively, engage in that space by doing is saying the. Science I've done tells me this the. Values, that I hold as a citizen, of this country tell me that I want you to do this and. That. Seems like a really narrow separation, but what it really ends up doing is making it very clear that the. Scientific space around facts and and understanding. Of the world while imperfect, and not complete is a, separate, space from, the actions, that our values dictate, those facts make us do, so. They inform each other they're connecting each other but being very explicit, about this bifurcation, of us. As scientists. Us as scientific, political actors, I think, is actually I've seen signs that that's actually really helpful and, that could actually in, some ways be. Be a path forward out of some of this. Political. Anger that, we seem to see in the country right now so. There, was sort of unformed. But I hope I got to where I was trying to go at the end so I'll, shut up at that point and hit it off all right hi, everyone in Asia. Just. As Chris just said, I am here as, myself I do not represent the federal government, or, anything like that. And I also want to say thank you to everyone involved in bringing us here so, I'm going to talk about something a lot drier but very important, to this enterprise which is research, funding, so, most, of the R&D that. This country invest in flows through the agencies, and there's two things that, Congress, needs to do for an agency to function the. First is the appropriations, process where. They allocate, money to, go to different agencies and programs and, the second is the, authorization, which, gives. An agency, the legal authority, to use, those funds, now. The president himself doesn't. Exactly. Set, the appropriations, he can, however influence. At the size and composition but. Really what he does is he sends a request to. Congress. Who can accept. Some of it all of it none of it. So. I'm just going to quickly quickly, go through that process just to make sure everyone's on the same page with how that that, works so, the president submits his request to Congress Congress. Has. These resolutions. That. Sets the the key point of those resolutions is to set the total, discretionary. Spending. Amount, then. Each, house goes, through the appropriations, process where, they mark up these bills and then. They come together and kind of hash it all out and. When they hash it all out that goes to the president and he signs it and there. You go now. As. You. Are all probably aware when that doesn't happen there's. Two things that can follow one. Is a government shutdown. And then the other thing that's you. Know not it's, also not ideal is, the continuing, resolution, where funding. Is capped at a fixed, formula usually this is at the previous levels, funding. Amounts the previous, year's funding amounts. It's. Not the greatest I mean it's not great but, because. It introduces uncertainty to. The research enterprise people, don't know.
When. The budget is going to come through and they don't know how much that will be and so it's tough, to plan for new programs and things like that. When. You look at the original. The. The administration's, budget request it is lean around. R&D, funding except, for there's a couple cases. Where that's not true one is the Smithsonian Institute which got a bump. The. Department of Veterans Affairs and then a program under HHS which is like a patient-centered. Outcomes Research Fund. Trust. But. However Congress has a different view on funding levels for you, know places like the NSF the NIH and. So, you. Know as this is being worked out in February the. Agencies, will submit their. You. Know their plans to the office of management and budget for, the next fiscal year's, plan so it's kind of two things happening concurrently but, how. That's all gonna fall it remains to be seen. Great. Um hi. I'm Michele uh same. Disclaimers, so. I do. Not represent my, my organization. The Institute, for Defense analyses. Or. The federal government my sponsors, at OSTP, but. Also thank you all for for inviting me and the. Other great, panelists, to speak with you today and I. Was, thinking I would focus my kind of introductory remarks. On how, science policy is coordinated, at the federal level, and. How, changing, priorities, at. That level can, can. Impact how science, policy is, coordinated, and gets done so. My. Perspective is mainly, focusing, on at the Office, of Science and Technology Policy which, is, a-a. Office. Within the. Office of the president. That. Serves. To inform the. President on. Science. And. Technology. Policy issues, that are relevant to the President's agenda, and. Policy, areas of interest, and. One. Way that the OSTP, works, to to. Advance, science. Policy and coordinate. Science. Policy among the federal agencies, is through the National Science and Technology Council, in, STC. This. Is a body, that. Helps. To coordinate the science. Dr. Lee policy process, they, help to ensure that, there. Is consistency with. The president's, goals on science. And technology policy decisions. At the agencies, and different departments, and. They also try to help. Integrate the president's agenda across. Agencies. They. Also help to ensure, that science, and technology is, concerned, in the development, and implementation of, federal priorities. So it's kind of a two-way street and then. Finally. They they also have kind of an international coordination.
Apiece. And. So through the NSTC. OSTP. Is is able to form essentially, interagency. Bodies. Chris. Actually kind of works with one and which he will likely, speak about later, at. An example of the u.s. group. On earth or GE. U.s. you see our Fe is the global, change research program. And. That. Example, is a it's there's, 13 different federal agencies that. 13. Correct then, that, that. Nsec, is able to coordinate, to form. Policies. Around global, change climate. Change being one, of the major types of change, that we see and. So you you exert you see these. Different interagency, groups formed around many different, science. Areas that are of interest to. Either. The President or or, things of. Relevance. In, the, in, the current environment so. Or, by Congress, as well so. For example there's. Always some lasting. Ones for, example water availability, and quality you. Also might have some fast track action committees that are set up to maybe do zika, or ebola or. Or. Things like that and so through that mechanism. OSTP. Is able to essentially, integrate, all of the advice that our, thousands, of federal, agencies. Or, agents. Are. Providing. All of that expertise, and really provide, the president with. Sound. Counsel, and, objective. Advice. In that area. It. Will address the elephant in, the room OS, TV currently does not have a, director. That's, definitely something we can talk about and. Later. But um I would. Say the. Main changes. That you we've seen or. I've witnessed. And. How OSTP, and the NSTC process, has been, coordinated, in function during. This, new administration. Is. That. Right, now there seems to be kind of a lack of uncertainty. And this comes from the budget. Process but, also from a lack of leadership, and. Due. To that uncertainty. Where. We're seeing a lot of a, lot. Of. Priorities. Not. Able to fully. To. Fully, function and in the way that the OSTP, and SEC process my. Optimally. Function, and. So. It's. Creating, you know even, more, areas. Of uncertainty and in those ways as well. Great. Thanks. To. All of you for getting the conversation, going, before. We. Open. It up from, questions. From the audience I had a few. So. And, I wanted to start with right, so you you've all talked a little bit about. What. Sort. Of small changes that you've seen and and, of course we are many, of us have a lot of connections to DC and you, know move in and out on some of us don't but but I presume, many of us at least read papers occasionally, and so. I think it would be helpful for us to get, a sense of, you. Know how. To how to understand, what we read in the papers, in. The context, of science and technology policy and, one of the things that. I think a lot of us have read I'm not gonna ask you about Russia don't worry. One, of the things that I'm that, I am, interested, in thinking. About is, I. Think a lot of us have read especially, when it comes to science, and technology policy but generally. In policy perhaps the place where we've heard, about it the most is in the context of the State Department is this, notion that. The, that the administrative. State. Is. Being dismantled right, or in Steve bannon's terms that, the the deconstruction, I think, is the term he used, that. What he was what he was going for was was, deconstructing. The administrative. State. And and so we've we've read, about that as I said most famously in the context of the the State Department, that the State Department is getting rid of in. Various ways thousands. Of employees, certainly. Hundreds at this stage and with designs, for more we. Know a little bit that that there's talk about similar, things there's been news about that at the EPA. And. I guess I have. A few questions related. To that the first is is, that a real phenomenon right. Again. We hear about it at the paper in the papers but to what extent is your sense that that's a real phenomenon. And. The second question related, to that is you, know what a if, it's a real phenomenon what does that actually mean what are the impacts on. Policy. On, regulation. On the, role of government in our lives. And, and, you, know sort of related to that sort of you know how does that affect does that affect the, lives of scientists, does that affect. The lives of citizens in a real way that those because, I think you, know, this. Administrative, state that that it's. Now off more discussed, more than ever are, often, technical, workers of some kind right they're they're they're, scientists, and engineers often, or I mean they may be social scientists but they're scientists and engineers of some kind we're working in the bowels.
That Are. That. Are now being, sort. Of cast into this new light into this new administration and, I'm. Curious what your sense of those. Politics, are is that is is is, that a phenomenon. That's occurring and if it is what what are the implications of, that and, it may be different in different places which i think is also something. That again, we read in the papers but we don't you guys are there on the ground and I think it would be useful for us to get a sense of the. Specificity. And sensitivity of, that. Sure. So, I. Would. Definitely say that so I also read the papers right so so I'm also, reading the same information, that you are and so of course, that. It's also tainting whether. Or not I believe it's happening but um I, will say from my personal experience um yes. I have seen impacts, from that um, I'll. Give an example. You. Know we like. I mentioned an STC I work often with these NECC interagency, groups and the State Department the example you raised often. Works our, serves on these and these interagency, bodies, and. When. You don't have the right expert in the room, that. Can be problematic, you're, trying to form a policy. Or doer to come up with a research plan around a very specific issue, and. And. You need that international perspective. In the case of the state foot department and there's, there's maybe nobody to call and. So that that can be hard I, would. Say the. Other major, impact, that I've definitely seen. Personally. Is, the. The impact to, federal, agents, morale. To. To. To. My friends my co-worker is right and it's it's it's just heartening to see people. Feel like they are not valued. That their their, careers, and science-policy serving. Under an. Agency. You. Know. To be, a good civil servant and and and, work. On issues that they are really passionate about that, to not, be. Recognized. Or to be cut. In a way or talked, about in a way in, the news, is. It. Affects them personally too, so yeah. It's definitely impacting. More than just the physical person, being in the office I think, and. I personally worry, about how that's going to impact the, next generation, of people. Who go into civil service I, really. Hope that a lot of you in this room are considering, going into civil, service and. That, you aren't too discouraged. By what you're currently might. Be seeing if you're talking to people who work in science agencies, right now I. Mean. I, agree. And. I don't I don't want to draw attention away from the very human impacts, that. We see in the statement of course it's it's real is it's clearly happening, that's that's quite obvious I.
Do. Think, I do just just a argument. It's more interesting um so just one, thing to challenge, slightly on is that you, know the things a staff or, broadly speaking a staff of employees works, on is, reflective. Of an administration, its policies, and, it, is it, is completely, appropriate that, an administration, use, staffing. As a way to indicate. What. They do and do not think that is appropriate for their staff to work on, I'm. Not I'm, not defending, the choices that are being made I'm just saying like generally. Speaking in a very kind of meta way it's. Appropriate. For a president to come in and say this. Stuff isn't the priority, and therefore I in my capacity as president I'm not going to spend the taxpayer money on it mm-hmm, you, know every, president does that that's part of part of their explicit, job so that that's, that's. Not immoral, or anything that they're doing doing wrong, we may have complaints about how they're doing it or choices about choices, that they're making but. The action in and of itself I don't think is is wrong. What. What it means I think is broadly. Speaking a far more complicated question and I think Michelle hit the nail on the head like yeah there are all of these kinds of questions about what it means for the future and what it means for the future of the scientific, enterprise and, science policy enterprise whether, the pipeline of people who want to come in are gonna be willing to even work in this kind of a space that that, the, fundamental, contract, of working in that place has changed. So, so those are those are very real questions, that I don't think anybody really has an answer to and. I do think that it's also really important to reiterate what you just said of like this is gonna be different different places you know I think that the, impact we see on the State Department is likely to be a lot more significant, and long-lasting than, something like the, Department of Energy where. It's really just about research funding so it'll. Probably slow down the pace of research but it will necessarily change the direction or the content of the research. So. It's. It's hard it's complicated, and I'm. Certainly not complimenting. The the process, by which it's happening but. I do think that at least on some fundamental. Level the, the actions are well within is right. Yeah. I mean echoing, everything you've said my sense and I don't you, know I don't have a. Chart. With me to draw this, conclusion from but my sense of it is that it's not a broad, general, loss, of staff it's particular, you, know offices, and functions where this these changes are happening in this as, Chris said. Whatever. Your thoughts on it maybe it is you know indicative.
Of Where priorities, may or may. But the other question is those people who are doing that work I mean they don't just disappear that, there's, a Cheeto they may go somewhere, else, to, try to do the same function and. Just to draw to that as well it's not just the people that, go. On and do other things the, work doesn't disappear either you, know we may choose to either not to do it or we may choose to delegate, that work to somebody else but, it shifts, to another agency or another place mission out of government into another space yeah but it's not like the, State Department decided to not work on gummy bears so gonna be very longer exist that's a ridiculous example. So. It's like just, just because an agency. Changes. Their priority, does not mean this work disappears. Into the ether it, means that other pathways, have to be found and for, people who are passionate about that particular issue or that particular work the. Way you do that work will change and sometimes. That's scary but that also is an opportunity it means that it's a chance to try a new path and do anything and go a new way and and. There are benefits. To flipping, the script and changing the system and trying something new there are also risks and you can cause a lot of damage but it's. Not a universal evil, I mean. Just as a small anecdote I know an, end. Of more than four people who have you know faced a situation like that who are now gearing up to run for office so, just. You just never know how that balance. Is gonna be struck. So. Um. You. All are starting to get at some of the complexity, that I think is really important, and and hopefully, that we can get at, today. We are in an academic setting after all not not. Trying, to sell newspapers and, but. So. I'm, curious. Again. You, know what what we hear, in the papers and what we know about is. You. Know all of these these. Scary, things that are happening in, policy, and more specifically science policy. And. I'm wondering whether. There are places that. This. Administration. When you think about the administration's, priorities, are there places that are. Places. Within science policy. Or. Within, research, funding but broadly you, know science and tech know policy, that, the, administration. Is interested, in or is investing, in and.
I Think broadly for example that you know obviously. This is an administration, that, has been trying very hard to, increase, military, funding. Right presumably. DoD, funding, is expanding, what. Opportunities, does that create in, terms of Science, and Technology Policy in terms of research funding do we see other places like that within. The the administration's, priorities. Where. We can say okay it is you know that kind of embodies this this complexity. That you guys are getting, at. That. Are you, know sort of actually potentially. Beneficial, for certain parts of the. World of, science and technology and science and technology policy yeah. I mean I can I can you know starting, with okay so. Kind, of you know so there's funding and then there's programming, and this example falls more, along the ladder. So. I mentioned at the beginning in my opening remarks that there's appropriations. And then there's authorization. Right the legal authority to do things but sometimes that, authorization. Bill, can also signal. How. Congress. Would like to see an agency, kind of lay, itself out programmatically, one. Example of that is the 2007. National Defense Authorization Act, and, okay. I'm gonna try to explain this and I'm, gonna try to read the room to see how good a job is, so. You have the Secretary, of Defense and you have the Deputy Secretary of Defense and underneath them are a variety, of different offices, do. I need to speak louder I'm so sorry okay. How. Much did you hear any of that oh. Oh, it's, okay. Much, better so. You have the Secretary of Defense and you have the Undersecretary, of Defense and then underneath. Them are a variety, of under, secretaries, of defense and, there, are under secretaries, for policy, there's under secretaries, for the comptroller's, office you know the financial office and. Right. Now, there. Is an undersecretary for, acquisition. Technology and, logistics and, research. And engineering falls, under, that under, secretary office now, according to this new Authorization, Act that. Research in engineering is going to move to, its own undersecretary. Level which, means that everything, underneath it from, basic, research applied, all of that it's going to have you know greater access to leadership, and be. A little bit more in the spotlight so that could mean you, know it's it's a big endeavor it's gonna take a little bit of time but, it could mean some interesting, things as far as research, and engineering go. And. To piggyback off that that was kind of where, I would where I would go with this question to you this administration has, and. All. Ministrations, have but this. One has really looked. At efficiency. And. And kind of that's. That is in, a way it's, a good thing so. The, reorg of the Department of Defense is a great example of, how. You. Know an agency, might, use these priorities, to streamline. And and. Make. Their make their processes, more efficient. With. Them that we were talking earlier for, example there's there's. All the services, each service branch has its, own you, know kind of business, functional, lines and. Part of the reorg is to also kind of separate those out and so, that that, also helps. Streamline, of, streamlined, processes and and can. Really, help to alleviate, some of the issues that large, departments, that are maybe more, bureaucratic, might. Be having, that. Also applies, to the other science, agencies, not just the Department, of Defense and. These. Can have good impacts and there's, also been some emphasis on or, a lot of emphasis on collaboration and. With this administration be, that, international. Or be. That with academia, or the, private sector and. I, personally. Think that's a it's a good thing for, there to be more collaboration. Of academia especially, in research. And. So, so, those types of priorities, really can create. More. Efficiencies, I think that's a good thing as well yeah it, kind of jump off that I think an interesting place to go is to look at confirmation.
Hearings For various heads of agencies or, a, lot of them release state somewhere there priority issues our interviews, that give interviews and you can kind of get a sense of what, they're looking at that could be interesting for SNT policy, one example is the new head, of I'm forgetting his name this is so bad but, the new head of NIST who said some interesting things I'm looking at tech transfer earnest, oh I'm so sorry. So that's the National Institute for Standards, and. Technology. That's right I always forget the team so. He said some interesting things on tech transfer and, the new the, person, who's been tapped, for NCI, has said some interesting things about is, National, Cancer Institute. It. Was the thing that frustrated, me when I started coming here and doing it has. Said some interesting things about the role of basic, research in. In science and technology so I would look there to to see where priorities, lie. The. Only other thing that I would add is I. Think. There's. An I don't think this I don't know that this is entirely intentional, but I do see one ramification. Enough the. Removal again of the federal. Action. From certain science technology spaces is again that, work is just going somewhere else so. I'm seeing I'm personally seeing a rise of a lot of science of Technology Policy work at the state level because, the federal government is no longer doing it this, may be a dangerous, example but the. Department of Education I think is an, interesting example of that I'm. Certainly. No fan of our of our home, state secretary, but yeah. Functionally. What's happening is that the Department of Education is just like refusing to do stuff which. Is there right that's a policy choice too but those, decisions just being made elsewhere they remain at the state level are being made in the hands of other people so. What. That's doing is increasing the number of venues in which size it's gonna be useful, partners. So. It's. It's. Not. It's. Yeah it's complicated. Specified. That a little bit of thing I. Think. It would be useful actually to, get from, you a sense, of. I. Think. We've been sort of talking a little bit or I've been trying to. Have. You guys talk about. What's. Changing and what's not changing, and what has changed right but. But I realized, in in our conversation, what. We. Haven't explicitly talked, about is. You. Know the relative roles of, political, staff and, civil. Servants or you know sort of career, staff and political, staff and I think there. May be people in the room who don't have a. Understanding. Of you know when, a new administration, comes in I, guess there are two dynamics. Right one is how much of a staff in an agency, like the Department of Energy or the State Department or the Department of Defense or the. EPA how much of it changes, how much of it stays the same in terms of personnel, sorry that's one question and then how much of a change rights if there's the personnel question and then there's a priority question, how much of what people do on a day to day basis. Changes. As a result of those priorities and how. Much is just actually the same between, administrations. So, I'll start. It. Did it obviously this will be a common, refrain it changes. By agency, but. The. The bulk of the leadership, layer either, at the agency, itself or most of the sub offices, are, political, appointees and, they have a shelf life of the administration. So. It's it's very normal, that some fairly, significant. Percentage, of agencies, change when an administration, changes. Civil. Servants are permanent. Employees but, they're not in the leadership, by, and large they may be program, directors, or program, and, things like that but. Most. Civil, servants, don't actually have funding, authorities or budget authorities they may be managing, projects, but, they're not the ones who sign the contracts, those are largely people.
Who Have occupied a higher space of either. High-level, civil servants or political, appointees, and that that's the way the design that's appropriate, for it to work that way and. I think that. The. The second half of your question is like how much does that actually impact the work of the agency is. That I mean of course it has it has it has a real impact but, the. Timescale of that impact I think is also quite important you know many of these agencies are working on time scales that are the. Length of a whole administration or. Longer you know depending of some of the investments from DoD and that, changes. That. Limits, the amount of impact that change. Overall, can have I mean things happen kind of in a direction, and turning. That boat entirely can be can be quite challenging. But. I guess the the, biggest takeaway that I would say that, it changes is actually the process by. Which things change when. When, and, I'm, a little bit biased on this because I saw this happen several times a day OE so I'm actually really interested to know if you guys agree with me if this is how it works with other agencies. Sorry. The Department of Energy. Every. Time a new secretary. Came in, the. Methods. By which things, were approved, and vetted. And considered. And chosen. And selected at, the apartment of energy dramatically, changed and it, was reflective, of how, secretaries. Prioritize. Or interpret, the priorities, that their. Boss the president is giving to them you. Know they're coming along with their own expertise, and their own interests and things like that but they're they're there to execute the president's will and that. Changes. When the secretary changes so I. Would. Talk a lot about politics, we talk a lot about policy, and I don't want to lose that third thread of the process, the. Process by which things happen is equally. As important, as the other two and those, are things that are, actually, completely. Within the control of the administration. That are they're really really really impactful. Yeah. So. I totally, agree see one process, that is at least from, my perspective it's. Not from. The executive. Office of the president that, also happens there too of course there that, it would happen there and how. This processes change can, really impact how a lot, of policy, is made but. I would also say that it's, not just the administration, that's changing Congress, is also always changing, and and these political appointees, have to be confirmed, by Congress and. Many. Of them yes. Many of them not only yes and, as. Well, Congress can also direct. Federal, agencies, to to. Do things and. So federal. Agencies are not just. You. Know, given. Things. Work on from the administration, but, you know Congress, can also dictate those things as well so just to add that, that's. Actually really important, yeah. The. Agencies. And all of the administration, have a whole lot of strings attached to their budgets I mean I mean you guys ever actually show, hands if you guys never actually looked, at the budget bill passed by Congress. That's. More, than I actually expected. It's. Huge. It's a massive, document, and it's because it's not like Congress just says okay Department, of Energy you get fifty five bucks and the, State Department you get a hundred bucks and a pile of string like that there's there's, a, massive. Amount of detail underneath there's like an overall appropriation, to the agency, and they explicitly. Say this thrust in the agency gets this amount of money and these sub offices each get this amount of money and and. Then they say this, this amount of this money will be spent on this if this project, or this program isn't that so there. It's written into law explicitly. What all of these funds are, for. And, there's up obviously. Space in there for, policy choices and process, choices, and all that kind of stuff but. Where. You spend your money is policy, and a. Large. Significant. Amount of strings attached to them comes in here coming from Congress. I'll. Try to refrain from using acronyms, and. There. You go but. I'm in academia where everything's, an acronym. So. I wanted to ask a question on the politics, side of things maybe in hopes, of extracting, some juicy insider, information from, you all so.
A. Year. Ago when the new administration was. Coming into office one. Of the predictions. Maybe that I heard, was that things. Were gonna go more, from sort, of a two-party. Negotiation. Process, between. Republicans. And Democrats to. Something that's more. Congress. Maybe working, together in, a, Congress, versus, executive. Office or administrative, sort of negotiation, style part of that I guess is maybe was predicting, that, we have a unpredictable. And maybe. Administration. Whose views sometimes, change quite rapidly. So. I didn't, know if if that's actually, coming true or if that's been affecting, what, you've seen on the ground in terms of how the Congress, works with the administration. I. Mean I was just gonna say like. When. Any party. Controls. A space there. Begin to be subgroups within that party I mean you saw, it in California with with the the Democratic Party achieving a supermajority there. Are groups. Within that like the moderate ends. The. Other domes and. And. And they still need I mean they still don't agree on everything and kind. Of that back and forth needs to happen and I think that there's an element of that going on in Congress as well that. You know so, it's not just Congress versus the executive, branch it's Congress. Congress Congress and then, the. Executive branch I. Mean. I think we have to remember that. Congress. Is not this plant, that grew in a forest that we all work around now like we, sent those people there we. There. Was there was an election you may remember it and these. People were chosen and. There. Are whether. We like it or not they are by. And large reflecting. The views of the people that are representing, so. III. Push, back a little bit on the idea that Congress is not doing their job their job is explicitly, to represent, the people who sent them there and and fundamentally. There, are a lot of, policy. And, political spaces. In which there isn't a consensus, in our society, yet these. There are some very hard questions that we as a society are grappling, with science. Policy aside like broadly. In the more social setting, there, are some really complicated, questions, that we as a society have not resolved, and I think that's also true in the science policy space and.
One. Thing that part. Of the reason I open my comments with with the honest broker is that, the, davits broker discussion was that. In. Spite, of that lack of consensus. On what, the right path forward is or if we even need a path forward I. Think. That I'm seeing signs, of, an, interest, in talking and, an. Interest, in basing, that conversation. On knowledge and facts and. That. Doesn't, premeditate. A particular outcome. But. I. Think. That there's at least an, interest, in talking again, and, some. Of that. Some. Of that is going to be frustrating, because it doesn't mean that everyone. Is going to agree at the end of talking you, know. So. I don't know if that's a juicy juicy tidbit, for you anymore. I'll. Give you a great example, there's. A new caucus, that has popped up in Congress that the chemistry caucus it's a bipartisan, caucus and it's, actually talking about. Increasing. Some, regulations, at. The EPA about disclosure. Of, chemicals, and chemical safety, for. Citizens and and, there are there, doesn't. Either gonna do anything I really don't think they will by but, the fact that they're having a conversation in a safe space is meaningful, yeah. So that's. One example and I'm seeing other places where I'm seeing Green, nonprofits. Partnering with an oil company to have a conversation about how that oil company can use less, fossil fuels to make as much money and. Oil, companies were not open to these conversations 20 years ago and it's. Not that they're changing their business it's not that we're changing any, actions, but a predicate, 2 nd any kind of change. Or advancement is discussion, and. We. Haven't I personally. Then personally. Not represent the federal government I personally. Think that, part, of the reason that, there's so much angst and anger right now is that we have shut ourselves off, from having the real conversations. To. Actually get to the next step of solving a problem we. Aren't even in agreement on what the problem is yet. So. Until. We can get to some kind of a space where we can at. Least agree what the problem is or at least agree on pieces of the problem, we're never gonna get to any kind of actual change and I, don't think anyone, regardless, of their political stripes, is happy, with the way the world is as it is now.
So. Have. At least having, some amount, of discussion of ways, they want to do, something different or change the world in whatever way you think is best, that. Starts, with some safe space for conversation, and I've at least seen an interest in having the safe space so. That caucus, is just is just kind of one example that I thought. My head but I'm seeing others too yet, that and that right there what Chris just said is sometimes the hardest part of getting to any solution getting, people in a room to have a discussion, is, such a I think undervalued. Part abyssal of the process, most, I think most politicians are very afraid of the idea, having, a conversation and saying I don't know because, I'm gonna be held to these statements, and I, can't learn I can't, just have a conversation and, figure out what it is that I don't know and I and, I actually, the thing that actually gives me a lot of hope in that space was the the, 2016. 21. Year. What 2017, election. In, the state level in Virginia there's a lot of the people and. I saw this on the Republican, side too and the Republican some of the Republican delegates, who won we're, saying you, know I don't actually know what I think on every single issue tell. Me what you citizen, tell me what rep what you personally I'm asking to represent think help. Educate, me so that I represent, you well that. Isn't that I, challenge. You to go try and find that being said in an elections. Ten years ago. So. There. Is change but. It's it's happening at a and. A conversational. Level that doesn't rise to kind of the political coverage, that we tend to see. The. First question is how. Does public, opinion, influence, the, science policy process, and how do policymakers. Balance, expert, opinions with public priorities, which may be skewed by so-called, fake news. Can. You repeat the question one more time right yeah, kind of even right. How. Does public opinion, influence the science policy process, and how do policy, makers balance, expert, opinions, with. Public, priorities, that might be skewed by fake news. Well. That's not a one-word answer. So. As. You might imagine I'm not short on opinions I. Really. Hate the term fake news I really. Do and probably not for the reason that you think I. Think. Fake. News has become an excuse, to dismiss, things with which you disagree and. I. Think that that's something that we in scientific, space need to really fight against, you. Know I see this I see this a lot in the climate change space you, know where, people, who are labeled, as climate change deniers are dismissed, as not welcomed to be a part of the conversation, and I think that's really sad I think. That's really a shame so, just, starting, out in that space I hate that term so I'm gonna ignore it. But. To actually get to your question, I. Think. That question was phrased in a way that I just kind of want to disagree, with this that, I think it's not I, think.
We Need to stop, yelling. At politicians for. Listening, to public opinion that, is quite explicitly. Their job. Their. Job is, there to represent us as the citizens of this country and there are limited sways in, which seven, in California, which 700,000. People can, talk to one person there. Are limited ways in doing that and surveys, while. Imperfect. And criticize about all across the board are one way in which an elected official is trying to understand, what the person the, people that they represent think. So. I think, it's really really, unfair. Of us to criticize, politicians, for. Listening, to their constituents. That. Said. I think it is a fundamental, challenge that. People, and political offices, have, to grapple with of when. They want to consider, technical. Knowledge when it stands in opposition to. What, their constituents think and I'm. Really, this this is that grappling. Is a large part of why I probably, don't really want to run for office because. That's a really hard question. It's, a really, hard question and it changes from minutes a minute it changes, yeah, the way that you weigh those things changes, based on your own personal values in your own lived. Experience. And I don't really, I. Don't. Have a great answer for how they do it because I don't know how I would do it if I was in their job I think it's I think honestly. Thinking that piece is the hardest part about running for office. Grappling. Into it because, I think for again. In an academic space, sure. For, us often. It's hard for us to imagine if. You have technical knowledge that provides you with insights, you, know we often are in a position where we say that should be the overriding. Basis. For a decision sure so when I was working in Congress for Senator Coons, there. Was a debate I watched on the on the House floor or, another house one on the Senate floor and. I thought it was really really interesting and it's stuck with me because, senator. Whitehouse was making a speech in favor of doing something on climate change as he does quite regularly which. Is great I'm happy for it, and another, senator stood up and said you know I'm, not dismissing, the science behind what you're saying but. You're asking me to take money out of our current budget and invest, it in the future a hundred years from now that we don't know what it's gonna look like and there are children who, are homeless in my district, in my state who are starving and, quite, frankly I would, rather spend this money on that now. You, can Curtis that I have a lot of, responses. To that particular comment but, I thought it was actually pretty insightful because what. It shows was a different, prioritization, of now versus later and, when. You can have it there all sorts of criticisms, that you can make of that but I think it's a coherent, policy position, to say the, federal government should focus on feeding and clothing its citizens. So. To me that's one example. Can, I try it so easy we can in. Case the question it was supposed to be asked or could, be there's another way we could address this question it's just not it's. True I went to it in.
Case That was. Please. Yeah, so. Public. Or. Citizens. Can also I guess, have, a say in, science. Policy not, through their elected representative. Well however that is a great way to, to. Influence science policy but there's also things like requests. For information RFI, on. Policy, documents that are currently being developed for. Example and the organization, I work for works on a lot of these policy documents, and we put out RFI's all the time and. We. Ask for public input on or. You know or expert input on on, what, we're what we're working on that, science policy. Process. And. There's also of course public, comment periods and other tons, of other examples of public comments um but. It doesn't so my. Answer is it doesn't just have to be through an elected representative you. As a, citizen. With an opinion or with. Some some really relevant bit, of scientific, information that you feel like needs, to be included in some sort of process, you can submit that information, there are forms, and processes to collect, that and every. Every, comment is read it. Is there's, the job so for example we. Did an RFI. I. Was, known who received all those comments sorted them and wrote a summary of them right so it's, very specific very small it was, a to bunny isn't like 60. But. There's. Other ways it, doesn't just have to be through your episode, if I don't know if you guys want to comment on that as well for me. Yeah I mean agencies, whenever they're doing regulations, have a public, comment period so, that regulations, reports before it's National. Climate Assessment is out for public comment right now everybody. Reviewed. A global change, go. Tell us what you think we want to hear it and I just wanted to make one small. Quick comment about public. Opinion influencing. Science and science policy this, is not gone unnoticed. Obviously, by the agencies, to I forget. The name of the report but in the end in the National Science Foundation's, I. Think, it was their indicators, report. Not. Only they collect all these different metrics but now I believe that they have a new, line. On what. Makes a metric a good, metric and I think that's because they understand, that let me just this forget fake news there's just so much information, out there and how, do you add value to what you're putting out that people grab on to it I mean this is a this is a very big question I. Would. Also just add if, you're reading the if you're reading the news fairly regularly that's great you're a fairly informed person how many of you have ever checked the Federal Register.
How. Many of you ever heard of the Federal Register. Okay. Federal, Register is, a publication, that the government puts out every single day, that summarizes, every. Action that is in the public space every. Single day almost. Every single week I would imagine there's. Something, the least where the government is explicitly, asking for your input with. Directions, on how to give it and it. Is like pulling teeth to get people in the public to actually comment. And participate we, are desperately. Wanting, it do. It I mean it when we ask for it so like Federal Register gov, you, should have that on your list, of things you read on a periodic basis. Next. Question so, can you guys have kind of spoken on this a little bit I think we want to dive a little bit deeper so. Considering, the present political climate, where partisan, divide on issues keeps growing, and there seems to be even more animosity, than ever in between the right and the left how, do we. And people. In DC escape, the danger of being, in an echo chamber where. We're only talking to one side we only choose to have the conversations, with the people who share our beliefs how can we kind of break that down and how have you seen that happen within, your own experience. I. Don't. Wanna keep talking first. Yeah. That's right. My, sense was pay. A lot, of attention to local politics it's smaller people, there tend to draw from a broader base of what they have in common, I. Think. They're just like yeah I'm just gonna. It's. Up there I guess, I would I would I would add on to that and who say that um. Honestly. The only person who's ever changed my mind is someone that I knew you. Know and it's it's that's. Not entirely true and be a little facetious but. There's. A lot of power in this in hey, you person, that I trust think differently than I do let's talk. So. I would say that I don't, see any way out of a. Deeply. Separated. Political, divide other than people. At the local level talking. To people with whom they disagree and, having. Conversations, that may or may not change people's minds you. Know I think that there, are a lot. Of examples in the political zeitgeist, where we've, seen significant. Movement, in, public opinion that only came up from citizen, level like, I just think it's I think it's delusional not delusional, is an unfair word that's a little aggressive I think. I think it's unreasonable, to. Expect Congress. To fix. A. Deeply. Felt. Partisan, political divide, in the citizenry, of the United States you. Know we. Have to save ourselves, so. If. You're only reading, if you're a liberal and you're only reading Huffington Post shame, on you if you're a conservative and you're only reading FoxNews, shame, on you you know I I. Don't think anyone would be surprised for me to say out loud I'm a liberal. Either I'm. A subscriber, to three libertarian, magazines I don't. Always agree with what's in them but I find they're thinking fascinating, and I learn from them yeah. So it's you, you have to seek out thinkers. And and, human. Beings with whom you disagree and talk, to them you.
Know We can't expect, everyone to come to us we have to choose to fix it ourselves. I'll. Echo. It back just a little bit I really think these. Conversations. That that you Schenker's mentioned they're hard to have, and. And, starting, with family is always a good place but. Also, reading. Is is, a really, really great way and educating, yourself on the other side's. Opinions. Or the way that they might approach something what are their values and really trying to to, do that research and confront. With that and think about that even if you don't put. Yourself out there and have those conversations I think at a minimum being, aware, whether. That's listening to a podcast that's, maybe, a little libertarian. Leaning for 10 minutes a day just to get that perspective. Just. Keeping. Just not always. Siloing yourself, is just so important, and. Also not doubling down on your opinions and something, I've definitely learned in. DC you know like really being open to hearing other people's opinions, and. You. Know when they might have an opinion that that goes against the fact that you believe in just recognizing, that and leaving it there. So. I'm gonna take the moderators privilege, to, to, chime. In on this question. Having, having, had, all three of these, illustrious. Alumni. In my class. And. In a class. That. Really. Attempts. To force, people, to do this and so, I think it's. You. Know I think that their responses. Are correct. And wonderful, but I think the, thing that I would add to it is that, you have to really, understand. The logics, in, the. Positions, that you violently, disagree with, if. Those are positions that have legs then. There's a logic, to them. And. There are there, are. Facts. That are associated with that position and there's a style of reasoning and there's a set of values and, in. The class that, I. Wear. I have these all three of them you, know I force students. To roleplay, stakeholders. And I encourage, them to, roleplay. Stakeholders. That they vigorously. Disagree, with because. That's another, place, where. You. Can. Understand, that logic I begin, to understand that logic as a means, of trying. To start. To bridge these divides I. Think we are now at a moment, where we. Caricature. Other people. From. Different political perspectives so. Much that we. Reject. The, idea that there are people at all. And we certainly. Reject. The idea that. Their, positions, might be evidence based so we will, say well you know their facts are wrong they're. You know they're monsters, well, you, know that, it's it's I think in, real political debate that's rarely actually the case, and. I think you are a better political actor, and you're more likely to get what you want, if, you're. If. You if you really embody, and, try to understand, the logics you, know one small thing a little kind, of a flip to that so.
Where I work I meet a lot of people who think, a little bit differently than me and one thing I found very, interesting is, finding. An issue that we both actually agree. On and. Understanding. What, led them to reach the same decision that I did is often, not the same and kind, of having insight into that is also really, really, helpful for these discussions, as well on issues, where you differ. We. Have a question both from Twitter and the audience they're both kind. Of together, as. People with scientific expertise, how, do you, handle or have, you handled in the past, situations. Where your superiors, might make statements. Or have positions, that diverge from a scientific, consensus, regarding, for instance climate change or vaccinations, or things like that. And would. An honest, broker of, science. Simply. Say that these are divergent, views on these topics or would, they advocate, for a particular position. No. Please. Okay. So. I. Think. Virtually every. Sold. You as I did a congressional, fellowship. From. The American Chemical Society, in 2011, and 2012 and there's a group of about 40. Scientists, who get competing. We get placed in Congress to do this every year and in, every, single noes interview processes this exact, question is part of the interview panel. Because. It's a fact of life you, know it's. Unless. You're the president of the states there's somebody that is above you and, even then the. Citizens are Buffum so it's like no, one no one doesn't have a boss and, no one doesn't have somebody else who has other. Some. Other value system or perspective, or structure that they're that they're using and. The. Reality, is is that science. Alone, is not the only answer to every question you. Know science, is say, this as a scientist, a scientist is the mechanism that we as a society use to mediate factual. Disputes, it. Tells you what, is good joy is smiling because she's the one who actually gave me this line. It's, it's. It's how we we, know that the sky is blue or that eating carrots is good for your eyesight or that climate change is occurring but. Politics, is how we mediate values, disputes. Politics. Is why how, we decide, that we're going to incentivize. Eating, carrots, and in elementary. Schools because they're good for you or or, whether when we decide whether or not we want to do something about climate change that's a political, and values choice it's, not a scientific question, so. One. Of the hardest, things I, think personally. Well. Being a scientist working in the science policy space is knowing. My place and. Knowing my limit and there. Are decisions, that get made that, are informed, by the science, but are not only informed, by the science and sometimes. Values. Outweigh, it a lot. Of times values, can outweigh facts, that's. The nature of us as human beings it doesn't make it evil it doesn't make it wrong it just is so. Knowing. Your place I think is one. Of the hardest parts of being humble and being part of this this community, is. That you can't fix everything you can't change everything and just because somebody did something that is an opposition to a fact or scientific knowledge doesn't, mean they're wrong I mean.
That's Hard to swallow that's, the thing about being an advisor though right it doesn't obligate the person listening. To you to take your advice it's just there to inform all, the other streams of evidence that go into their decision-making our. Jobs as advisors is to make sure that the person making the decision is, as well armed yes informed, as possible, the decision is d'affaires there's if. You want to be the person making that decision you. Need to run for their office. And. My, where I work the. Way, that we always like to talk about it is you know we do objective. Policy. Analysis for. You know either the White House is it detective Office. Of Science Technology Policy. Or. Other federal agencies, and not, just in the trump era but forever if. We, do, a research. Study and we hand it to our sponsor and they. Say well it's, not the answer I was looking for it's not what I want to do here we say well, that's, what our that's what our analysis gave us and you're welcome to throw that in the trash but. This is the answer that that we have you know and and they don't they don't have to to take it do anything with it they can put, it away in a filing cabinet and never look at it again and we'll be sad, we worked really hard on it and and, we really believe in it and we fe