The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, or PCAST, is an advisory group of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers, appointed by the President to augment the science and technology advice he receives from inside the White House and from cabinet departments and other federal agencies. PCAST offers insights, and in many cases makes policy recommendations, concerning the full range of issues where understandings from the domains of science, technology, and innovation are relevant to the policy choices before the President. PCAST is administered by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which I direct in parallel with my role as science and technology advisor to the President.
As you can see from the member roster, PCAST is populated by a spectacular cast of leaders of the science and technology community. The 21 members include 4 winners of MacArthur "genius" awards, 3 Nobel laureates, 2 university presidents, as well as 16 members of one or more of the U.S. national academies of science, engineering, and medicine. At its meeting Thursday and Friday — the first meeting of the full Obama PCAST — the group will be hearing from a number of Administration officials who deal with science and technology issues. The first public session starts at 10:15 Thursday and the full agenda is visible here. Watch the live-stream of the meeting below:
[UPDATE: This event has now concluded]
The largest part of the committee’s attention over the two days will be focused on the selection of the topics to which PCAST will be giving highest-priority attention in the months immediately ahead. The President will meet with PCAST on Friday to weigh in with his own thoughts on these priorities. (Everybody gets a say, but his say is the final one!) Candidate topics include the roles of science and technology in job creation, economic recovery, and growth; research and development strategy for clean-energy technologies; the science of adaptation to climate change; the science and technology of homeland security; extending internet connectivity to all Americans; and a strategy for strengthening science, technology, engineering, and math education in this country.
It’s a privilege and a pleasure to be working on these issues in an Administration led by a President so appreciative of the potential of science and technology to help meet the many challenges our country faces. I know all my colleagues in PCAST feel the same way. I hope you will gain something of an appreciation for the excitement and enthusiasm as well as the ideas we are bringing to this work as you watch the proceedings of this inaugural PCAST meeting — a meeting, by the way, that, through webcasting on the OSTP website embodies the President’s oft-stated commitment to using technology to make government more open, transparent, and collaborative.
Dr. John P. Holdren is the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy