Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog

  • We Love it When a Plan Comes Together…

    Federal agencies are currently hard at work developing revised Open Government Plans — blueprints that are published every two years, highlighting agency progress towards making their work more transparent, participatory, and collaborative, and outlining new open government commitments going forward.

    This iterative, biennial process grew out of the December 2009 Open Government Directive issued by the Office of Management and Budget, which instructed executive departments and agencies to take specific actions to incorporate the principles of openness set forth in the President’s  Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, which he signed on his first full day in office.

    To aid agencies as they put together their 2014 Plans, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer this week shared guidance describing topic areas that agencies should work to include in their Plans, including commitments made in December as part of the U.S. second Open Government National Action Plan.

    The 2014 Plans will provide an inspiring showcase of open government achievements to add to those achieved by agencies in past Plans, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s expansion of webstreamed meetings so participants across the country can hear about existing and proposed nuclear sites, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s ongoing International Space Apps Challenges, which have encouraged thousands of innovators from around the globe to create tools to improve life on earth and in space.

  • A Week of Action: Celebrating STEM and Black History Month

    This Friday, to wrap up an exciting week of action by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in celebration of Black History Month, to shine a light on the importance of engaging America’s full science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) talent pool, OSTP Director John P. Holdren will visit Morgan State University, a Baltimore-based Historically Black College or University (HBCU). In addition to touring on-campus research and laboratory facilities, Dr. Holdren will meet with university leadership, faculty, and students to discuss the challenge and opportunity of broadening participation in STEM fields – a priority area of focus for OSTP.

    Here’s a recap of OSTP’s “Week of Action” activities to celebrate Black History Month and promote STEM inclusion:

    To start off the week,  on Tuesday, OSTP’s Knatokie Ford and Marlon Marshall of the White House Office of Public Engagement co-hosted a “We the Geeks” Google+ Hangout featuring all-star African American STEM students, researchers, and scientists to share their stories, lessons learned, and help inspire African American students across America to pursue STEM studies and careers. 

    On Wednesday, OSTP Director Holdren delivered closing remarks at a White House Champions of Change event convened by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, celebrating extraordinary leaders who are working to support and accelerate STEM opportunities for African American students, schools, and communities. Later in the day, Director Holdren kicked off a day-long workshop, convening leading technical experts, representatives from minority professional societies, nonprofit organizations, and other key stakeholders to develop concrete actions that help minorities excel in STEM studies and careers.

  • A White House Call To Action to Advance the BRAIN Initiative

    President Barack Obama is introduced by Dr. Francis Collins

    President Barack Obama is introduced by Dr. Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health, at the BRAIN Initiative event in the East Room of the White House, April 2, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    On April 2, 2013, President Obama launched the Brain Research through Advancing Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, a Grand Challenge designed to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. 

    Under this initiative, Federal agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are supporting the development and application of innovative, new technologies that can create a dynamic understanding of brain function and its relationship to behavior. These scientific and technological advances could also lead to improvements in our ability to diagnose, treat, and even prevent diseases of the brain. Recently, DARPA, NIH, and NSF have made announcements of significant new solicitations or awards related to the BRAIN Initiative. Other Federal activities are being coordinated with the BRAIN Initiative through the National Science and Technology Council’s Interagency Working Group on Neuroscience.

  • Welcoming Detroit’s New Chief Information Officer

    The Obama Administration is committed to partnering with the City of Detroit—its citizens, local leaders, and community stakeholders—to support the city’s vision for economic revitalization. As part of this effort, in November, the White House assembled in Detroit a team of top municipal-government technology officials from around the country. The goal of the trip, and the ongoing engagement between this Tech Team of municipal officials and the city, has been to identify ways technology can be leveraged in support of economic revitalization and improved services for city residents.

    Today marks another important milestone for Detroit city government’s technological revitalization: it is the first day on the job for the City of Detroit’s new Chief Information Officer, Beth NiblockShe is serving in a newly-created cabinet-level position in the city. Beth, an accomplished and innovative leader, was a member of the municipal Tech Team. She brings to Detroit a wealth of valuable experience through the incredible work she did over the past decade in the same position for the City of Louisville, Kentucky.

    Congratulations to Beth and the City of Detroit. The creation of this new position—with Beth on the job— further solidifies the critical role of technology and innovation in the city’s policies and economic revitalization efforts. We look forward to continued progress as the City of Detroit, under Beth’s leadership, embarks on building a more robust, vibrant, 21st century city. Going forward, OSTP and the Tech Team will continue to partner with City of Detroit to support this important work.

    Brian Forde is Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer 

    Don Graves is Executive Director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness at the White House


  • Privacy Workshop to Explore "Big Data" Opportunities, Challenges

    Last month, the President asked Counselor John Podesta to lead a comprehensive review of how “big data” – data sets so massive, diverse, or complex, that conventional technologies cannot adequately capture, store, or analyze them – will affect how Americans live and work. Senior administration officials have since begun to look at the implications of collecting, analyzing, and using such data for privacy, the economy, and public policy.

    Because we all have an important stake in the future of privacy, hearing from a broad range of experts and engaging the public is critical to this effort. To advance this inquiry, OSTP will be co-hosting a series of public events to hear from technologists, business leaders, civil society, and the academic community.  The first event is a public workshop organized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), entitled “Big Data Privacy: Advancing the State of the Art in Technology and Practice.”  The workshop will be held on March 3, 2014.  For information on how to register, or how to watch the event by webcast, please go to MIT’s website here.

    As part of this effort, OSTP will be co-hosting at least two additional events—one with the Data & Society Research Institute and New York University, and one with the School of Information and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley. In the coming weeks, we will be announcing additional opportunities for the public to inform this important work.  Check back here for more information and updates on our progress.

    Nicole Wong is U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy

  • We the Geeks: Celebrating Black History Month

    We at the White House couldn’t be more excited to celebrate Black History Month by highlighting some of our nation’s most prominent and promising African American science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) achievers and shining a light on the importance of ensuring the Nation’s next generation of inventors, discoverers, and innovators fully reflects the diversity of America.

    President Obama with Evan Jackson, Alec Jackson, and Caleb Robinson at the White House Science Fair, April 22, 2013

    President Barack Obama talks with Evan Jackson, 10, Alec Jackson, 8, and Caleb Robinson, 8, from McDonough, Ga., while looking at exhibits at the White House Science Fair in the State Dining Room, April 22, 2013. The sports-loving grade-schoolers created a new product concept to keep athletes cool and helps players maintain safe body temperatures on the field. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Members of racial and ethnic minority groups are projected to become the majority of America’s population in the next 30 years. Today, however, they account for just 28 percent of America’s STEM workers. We know that for America to remain competitive in a global economy, we need to do all we can to draw upon the nation’s diverse talent pool, which includes historically underrepresented groups in STEM, such as women and minorities.

    That’s why, next week, OSTP is hosting and participating in a series of activities to highlight diverse STEM role models and the urgent need to help minority students across the country envision themselves as tomorrow’s discoverers, explorers, developers, and STEM innovators.

    To kick off our week of activities, join us Tuesday, February 25 at 3:00 pm EST for "We the Geeks: Celebrating Black History Month" 

    In this Google+ Hangout, some of the Nation’s most extraordinary African American STEM innovators and STEM-education advocates will share their inspiring personal stories and thoughts on how we can all step up to help strengthen America’s STEM-skilled workforce by making it broader and more diverse.