Washington needs high-level science and technology expertise – now!

The federal government has not yet spun off the rails, but its engine has sputtered more ominously with each presidential crisis de jour. Policy imperatives are on hold, agency positions are unfilled and the future of the country is endangered.

In the midst of that maelstrom, neither the White House nor Congress is paying any attention to the one issue that intersects almost every facet of modern society. The issue is science.

It was the theme of nationwide marches not very long ago, but according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, the protest had little impact on the majority of American voters. And it had virtually no impact on the administration, unless you count replacing respected academic experts on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Committee with industry shills and slashing research budgets.

Both results are extremely troubling, not with as much immediacy as the bizarre White House events of the last few weeks, but with more enduring impacts. Ignoring the enterprise that powers the economy, keeps our nation secure and cures diseases is a prescription for the decline of a great nation.

If Congress and the White House hew to their stated intentions, they will be tackling many critical issues requiring scientific expertise. And at present, neither President Trump nor House Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanWashington needs high-level science and technology expertise – now! CBO score underlines GOP tensions on ObamaCare repeal Overnight Finance: Dems introduce minimum wage bill | Sanders clashes with Trump budget chief | Border tax proposal at death’s door MORE (R-Wis.) – who will be initiating much of the anticipated legislation – have easy access to the unbiased and unfettered advice they need. That is dangerous, and it should concern every citizen.

President Trump has yet to name a director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), who in the past has also served as science and technology advisor to the…

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