These Are the Science and Technology Policy Jobs Trump Still Hasn't Filled

From the beginning, Trump has pitted agency heads against their departments—Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency, Ryan Zinke at the Interior Department, and Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.

But subtly, Trump is also diminishing the role of science and technology, simply by not hiring anyone at all. Specifically, the White House has significantly reduced staff at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), a vibrant policy and research hub that flourished under the Obama administration.

Out of roughly 114 former OSTP positions, Trump has left more than 70 unfilled since his inauguration. This is according to a list of current OSTP staff that Motherboard acquired using a Freedom of Information Act request. It was last updated by OSTP record-keeping on March 27, 2017.

NASA

President Obama at the 2015 White House Astronomy Night.

The new roster, when compared to President Obama’s own staff listing, reveals that most of the previous administration’s employees there have vacated—though the impetus for their departures is tricky to determine. Trump’s inability to fill these positions has insiders worried about his capacity for making informed decisions related to artificial intelligence, STEM education, digital innovation, and other issues.

Notably absent are chief technology officer, a host of policy advisors to the Technology & Innovation Division, everyone with “climate” in their title, and executive director for the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

The office’s budget and administration division was left untouched.

“There’s real value in having this office around and functioning. We can point to all sorts of policy reports that we’ve done over the last few years [and] this stuff isn’t stagnant,” Dan Hammer, who served as senior policy advisor in the OSTP’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer under President Obama, told me.

When Congress established the office in 1976 under President Ford, its intent was to strengthen the president’s policymaking, as far as science and technology were concerned, with sound science and analysis. During Obama’s tenure, OSTP experts prepared America for the realities of artificial intelligence, the technology of future cities, and imminent cybersecurity threats.

NASA

Bobak Ferdowsi, a system’s engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, at the White House Science Fair.

Still, a modest amount of turnover is expected. Some OSTP staff, such as fellows, are temporarily hired from nonprofits or academia. As of March 1, 2016, OSTP had 117 employees, including 19 fellows. It’s not uncommon for these staff to plan for their departures a year before their terms are scheduled to end. Potentially, they were among the first to leave when Trump came into office.

There’s little doubt, however, that Trump has his own plans for science and technology leadership. His son-in-law, senior advisor Jared Kushner, will spearhead the new White House Office of American Innovation, whose mission is similar to that of the OSTP’s Technology & Innovation Division.

Trump also hired Michael Kratsios, former chief of staff at Thiel Capital, to be his deputy chief technology officer. The political neophyte and Peter Thiel confidant will also serve as deputy assistant to the president for technology initiatives.

Another OSTP staffer, Stephanie Xu, was recently hired under the title of “Confidential Assistant.” It’s unclear what this role will entail. Xu isn’t listed in the FOIA documents that Motherboard received, but we were able to confirm her employment there. According to her LinkedIn page, Xu formerly worked as a deputy finance director for the Republican National Committee.

The president hasn’t indicated that he intends to fill the vacant positions or create new ones. Historically, this is somewhat unprecedented. Under Obama, OSTP roles were allegedly staffed out within months. But Trump has been slow to hire across the board, which some attribute to “an overworked White House personnel office.”

White House sources told the New York Times that OSTP staff are no longer privy to daily briefings. In an interview with Recode, one person described the office, which is hardly ever consulted anymore, as “disempowered.” We also learned that existing staff have absorbed much of their former colleagues’ excess workload.

Based on the information we received from our FOIA request, below are the current and former OSTP employees, along with their titles.

OSTP POSITIONS CURRENTLY VACANT:

DIRECTOR’S OFFICE

Chief of Staff Cristin Dorgelo
Senior Advisor to the Director Jeff Smith
Assistant Director, Federal Research and Development Kei Koizumi
Assistant Director, Legislative Affairs Donna Pignatelli
Communications Director and Senior Policy Analyst Kristin Lee
Senior Communications Advisor Chris Vaccaro
Senior Policy Advisor, Public Engagement Fae Jencks
Policy Advisor to the Chief of Staff Erin Szulman
Executive Assistant Billie McGrane

OFFICE OF THE CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER

U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith
Deputy Chief Technology Officer Ed Felten
Deputy Chief Technology Officer Alexander Macgillivray
Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy and Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil
Senior Policy Advisor Evan Cooke
Senior Policy Advisor Renee Gregory
Senior Policy Advisor Dan Hammer
Senior Policy Advisor Lynn Overmann
Senior Policy Advisor Jason Schultz
Senior Policy Advisor, Digital Government Emily Tavoulareas
Senior Policy Advisor Aden Van Noppen
Senior Policy Advisor Laura Weidman-Powers
Senior Policy Advisor, Innovation and IP Nancy Weiss
Senior Policy Advisor, Health and Health IT Claudia Williams
Policy Advisor Read Holman
Policy Advisor Kristen Honey
Policy Advisor Kelly Jin
Policy Advisor Terah Lyons
Special Assistant and Policy Advisor Matthew McAllister
Special Assistant and Policy Advisor Suhas Subramanyam

ENVIRONMENT & ENERGY DIVISION

Associate Director Vacant
Principal Assistant Director for Environment & Energy Tamara Dickinson
Assistant Director, Clean Energy and Transportation Austin Brown
Assistant Director, Climate Adaptation and Ecosystems Laura Petes
Assistant Director, Climate Resilience and Information Amy Luers
Assistant Director, Climate Resilience and Land Use Rich Pouyat
Assistant Director, Climate Science Donald Wuebbles
Assistant Director, Environmental Health Bruce Rodan
Executive Director, Arctic Executive Steering Committee Mark Brzezinski
Senior Policy Advisor Fabien Laurier
Senior Policy Advisor, Energy Elaine Ulrich
Executive Secretary and Policy Advisor, Arctic Executive Steering Commitee Renee Crain Wagner
National Ocean Council Fellow Matthew Lurie

NATIONAL SECURITY & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIVISION

Associate Director Vacant
Principal Assistant Director for National Security & International Affairs Steve Fetter
Assistant Director, Cybersecurity Strategy Gregory Shannon
Assistant Director, Global Security Matt Heavner
Assistant Director, International Science and Technology Mahlet Mesfin
Senior Policy Advisor, National Security, Space, and Aviation Fred Kennedy

SCIENCE DIVISION

Associate Director Jo Handelsman
Assistant Director, Scientific Data and Information Jerry Sheehan
Senior Policy Advisor Knatokie Ford
Policy Advisor Becca Grimm
Policy Advisor Parker Liautaud

TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION DIVISION

Associate Director Vacant
Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation Tom Kalil
Assistant Director, Behavioral Science Maya Shankar
Assistant Director, Biological Innovation Robbie Barbero
Assistant Director, Education and Telecommunications Innovation Aadil Ginwala
Assistant Director, Entrepreneurship Douglas Rand
Assistant Director, Innovation for Growth Jennifer Erickson
Assistant Director, Learning and Innovation Kumar Garg
Assistant Director, Open Innovation Christofer Nelson
Senior Policy Advisor, Advanced Manufacturing/Fellow Megan Brewster
Senior Policy Advisor, Small Business Innovation Nate Segal
Senior Policy Advisor, Tech Inclusion Ruthe Farmer
Senior Policy Advisor Ayo Babajide
Senior Policy Advisor Beadsie Woo
Senior Advisor, Innovation Policy Daniel Correa
Senior Advisor, Making Andrew Coy
Policy Advisor Erik Martin
Policy Advisor Lusine Galoyan

PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Executive Director Ashley Predith

OSTP POSITIONS CURRENTLY FILLED:

Assistant Director, Cybersecurity Tim Polk
Assistant Director, Research Infrastructure Tof Carim
Policy Analyst for Medical and Forensic Sciences Eleanor Celeste
Assistant Director, Intelligence Allison Curran
Natalie Senior Policy Advisor Natalie Evans Harris
Acting Division Lead Chris Fall
Assistant Director, Polar Sciences Martin Jeffries
Assistant Director, Civil and Commercial Space Benjamin Roberts
Staff Director for Energy and Environment Robert Strickling
USGEO Program Director Timothy Stryker
Assistant Director, Broadening Participation Wanda Ward
Acting Division Lead Lloyd Whitman
Deputy Chief Technology Officer Corinna Zarek
SINSI Fellow Becky Kreutter
Senior Policy Advisor, Counterterrorism and WMD Maureen Kraner
Acting Division Lead Meredith Drosback
Program Support Specialist Jennifer Michael
Executive Director, NSTC Afua Bruce
Executive Director, USGCRP Mike Kuperberg
Senior Policy Advisor for Biological Threat Defense JP Chretien
Director, NITRD Bryan Biegel
Special Assistant and Policy Advisor Alexander Kamrud
Assistant Director, Biosecurity and Emerging Technologies Gerald Epstein
White House Leadership Development Fellow Kenneth Wright
Acting Division Lead Deerin Babb-Brott
Assistant Director, Natural Disaster Resilience Jaqueline Meszaros
Director, NNCO Lisa Friedersdorf
Policy Analyst Steven Baldovsky
Acting Legislative Advisor Linda Bunn
Mary Administrative Security Specialist Mary Burgess-Gregg
Administrative Specialist Donna Coleman
IT Specialist George Cravaritis
Administrative Operations Officer Dawn Epperson
Budget Analyst Penny Guy
Administrative Specialist Daw Mielke
Operations Manager Stacy Murphy
Administrative Officer Diana Zunker
Deputy Assistant to the President for Technology Initiatives and Deputy US CTO Michael Kratsios
Deputy General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for Oceans and the Environment Jennifer Lee
General Counsel Rachael Leonard
Acting Director Ted Wackler
Assistant Director, Special Programs Mark Leblanc
Confidential Assistant Stephanie Xu