Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog

  • Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Demonstrate their Innovative Ideas at the First White House Demo Day

    Today the President hosted the first-ever White House Demo Day, welcoming startup founders from across the country and diverse backgrounds to “demo” their success stories.

    Entrepreneurship drives the American economy. We are a nation of inventors, makers, and innovators. Even so, we know that so much of our entrepreneurial talent remains untapped.

    Consider this: Just three percent of America’s venture capital-backed startups are led by women. Less than one percent are led by African-Americans. And the state of California received more venture capital funding last year than the rest of the country combined.

    We need to do more to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to fully contribute their entrepreneurial talents. Inclusive entrepreneurship is both a matter of fairness and an economic imperative – you don’t win games by leaving more than half the team on the bench, and companies with diverse leadership often outperform those that don’t.

  • On the Passing of Dr. John H. Gibbons, Science Advisor to President Clinton 1993-1998

    Dr. John H. (“Jack”) Gibbons passed away on July 17, 2015, from complications from a stroke. He was 86. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Mary Ann Hobart Gibbons, a sister, two daughters, and eight grandchildren. The memorial service will be held at 2 pm September 19 at Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Virginia.

    Dr. John H. ("Jack") Gibbons

    Jack served from the beginning of the Clinton Administration in 1993 until 1998 as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). His influence in the Clinton White House was evident in the Administration’s signing the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (which, alas, the Senate has never ratified, even though the United States has not conducted a nuclear-explosive test since 1992); in increased cooperation with the former Soviet Union to keep nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands; in ramped-up government attention to global climate change, including, very importantly, significant increases in budgets for energy research, development, and demonstration; in new initiatives in biomedical research; in the establishment of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission; and much more.

  • Honoring Outstanding Teachers and Announcing Further Progress in Support of the President’s STEM Education Goals

    School was in session today at the White House, as President Obama welcomed more than 100 teachers who received the 2013 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching (PAEMST).

    Investing in exemplary teachers is vital to inspiring the next generation of explorers and innovators. Great teaching is a key part of any child’s success, and in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, it is critical to create educational experiences that are project-based, hands-on, and build a love of lifelong learning.  

    As the President has said, “Strengthening STEM education is vital to preparing our students to compete in the 21st century economy and we need to recruit and train math and science teachers to support our Nation’s students.”

  • The Measure of Science

    Measurements are everything in science. It's simple – if you can't measure it, you can't study it. Yet scientists and the public often take for granted the measurements that we make every day. Underlying each measurement, whether time or distance or mass, is a standard. Standards are how we ensure that a centimeter in Washington, DC is the same as a centimeter in Des Moines, IA and that a dose of a drug administered at the Cleveland Clinic is the right amount, even if the drug was tested in Boston, MA. The study of measurement is “metrology,” an underappreciated field upon which the modern world rests.

    This week, OSTP staff visited the main campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD, where scientists spend their lives developing and calibrating the measurement standards that we rely on every day. The work at NIST impacts some of our Nation's biggest priorities, from improving cybersecurity to enabling breakthroughs in advanced manufacturing. NIST's ability to have such impact is tied to its cutting-edge research programs in measurement science. The fundamental importance of NIST’s work for all science was evident in every lab and display cabinet. From the low-tech reference material marked "human liver" and "peanut butter" in the NIST museum to the sophisticated kilogram standard and the atomic clock (housed in a NIST lab in Boulder, CO). By ensuring the accuracy and consistency of standards like these, NIST makes reliable science possible.

    Human lung and human liver standard reference material, developed at NIST (All photos credit: Eleanor Celeste).

  • Advancing U.S. Leadership in High-Performance Computing

    Over the past 60 years, the United States has been a leader in the development and deployment of cutting-edge computing systems. High-Performance Computing (HPC) systems, through their high levels of computing power and large amounts of storage capacity, have been and remain essential to economic competitiveness, scientific discovery, and national security.

    Today, President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) to ensure the United States continues leading in this field over the coming decades. This coordinated research, development, and deployment strategy will draw on the strengths of departments and agencies to move the Federal government into a position that sharpens, develops, and streamlines a wide range of new 21st century applications. It is designed to advance core technologies to solve difficult computational problems and foster increased use of the new capabilities in the public and private sectors.

  • Using Data to Transform Policing in New Orleans

    Fifteen year old Operation Spark student Grace Clark helps New Orleans Police Chief Michael Harrison write his first line of code: nopd.showRecords(1000) (Photo credit: Tyler Gamble/New Orleans Police Department)

    The power of data to transform our society for the better is incredible.  One of the areas to use data for immediate impact is in policing. Recently, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing provided recommendations on how to best use the power of data to improve policing, including better use of data and technology to build community trust and reduce inappropriate interactions with residents.

    On May 21, the President announced the launch of the Police Data Initiative, as a follow-up to this Task Force. Under this program, 24 jurisdictions nationwide have committed to open up datasets about policing, and to participate in a peer-learning network to share data innovations across law enforcement agencies. One of these jurisdictions is the City of New Orleans.

    Last week, New Orleans held an event to preview three datasets on policing they plan to open to the general public (use of force, 911 calls for service with arrival times included, and field interview cards).  At the event, city officials worked with a group of young coders to build apps powered by this newly unlocked data.