WHITE HOUSE SCIENCE POLICY OFFICE DIRECTOR-DESIGNATE IS OTA’s JOHN GIBBONS, KNOWN FOR WORK ON ENERGY ISSUES; ARKANSAS' ELDERS TAPPED FOR SURGEON GENERAL
The director-designate of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is John Gibbons, who has headed the congressional Office of Technology Assessment since June 1979 and is known primarily for his expertise on energy issues. President- elect Clinton's transition office announced Gibbons' selection for the OSTP post on Dec. 24. Aides said Gibbons was actually named to two positions, the OSTP post, which requires Senate confirmation, and White House Science Advisor, which does not. This approach may allow Gibbons to get started on the job while awaiting Senate confirmation. His nomination must first be considered by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. The Commerce Committee plans to focus first on Cabinet-level posts, beginning with a Jan. 6 confirmation hearing with Commerce Secretary-designate Ron Brown. The committee will turn sometime later to Gibbons' nomination. If confirmed, Gibbons will succeed D. Allan Bromley as OSTP director. Health-related issues that have drawn Bromley's interest over the past few years include academic research funding, university/industry collaborations, technology policy and U.S. industrial competitiveness, and use of animals in biomedical research. OSTP has a dual role of providing policy support to the President and coordinating science policy across federal agencies. For example, the interagency Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering and Technology operates under the aegis of OSTP. The White House office solicits private sector input through its Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The selection of Gibbons may in part reflect Vice President- elect Gore's interest in environmental issues and influence in the science and technology area since Gibbons is known primarily for his work on energy and the environment. Gibbons, 63, received a PhD in physics from Duke University. Prior to joining OTA, he directed the Energy, Environment and Resources Center at the University of Tennessee and also held a variety of posts during 19 years at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. From his OTA tenure, Gibbons will bring expertise in working with Congress. Bromley, a nuclear physicist, joined the OSTP in April 1989. Bromley had been a researcher at Yale University for almost 30 years and founded its nuclear laboratory. The Senate Finance Committee's confirmation hearing for HHS Secretary-designate Donna Shalala has not been scheduled but is expected to occur before the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration. The Finance Committee is expected to begin scheduling its early hearings the week of Jan. 4. The new Senate convenes Jan. 5 to begin the first session of the 103rd Congress. On the same day as the Gibbons announcement, the Clinton transition team made official its expected selection of Arkansas Department of Health Director Joycelyn Elders, MD, as surgeon general. Elders was appointed to the Arkansas state post by Clinton, and she currently is president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers. Previously, Elders was a professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas Medical Center for 20 years. She received her MD degree from the university in 1956 and added an MS in biochemistry in 1967. The transition team has not yet announced what sort of provisions will be made for the current Surgeon General, Antonia Novello, MD. To provide some independence for the post, the surgeon general is selected for a specified term and cannot be removed from that post. Novello was confirmed by the Senate and sworn into office in March 1990 for a four-year term, which would thus extend to March 1994. Novello reportedly wants to stay on at least through June 1993. She previously was the deputy director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and presumably would move to another post in the Public Health Service.
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