John H. Marburger will be nominated by President Bush to become the
new Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Marburger
is currently the Director of the Brookhaven National Laboratory and
President of Brookhaven Science Associates. The nomination has drawn
praise, including positive words from the previous OSTP Director, Neal
President Bush's lack of a science adviser has been a growing source
of concern within the S&T community. There is speculation that the Administration's
FY 2002 budget request for R&D might have been higher had there been
a science advisor. There is also concern that policies with a large
science component, such as global warming, stem cell research, and national
missile defense are being formulated without the input of a science
advisor. Senior level S&T appointments also await the guidance of this
The Office of Science and Technology Policy is based in an office
building that is part of the White House complex. The staff is not large,
and the degree of influence it has within an administration depends
greatly on how the president decides to integrate OSTP into the decision-making
Marburger has a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Stanford University,
and a B.A. in Physics from Princeton University. Before coming to Brookhaven
he was President of the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Marburger also served as the chairman of Universities Research Association,
which runs Fermi Lab, from 1988-1994.
Brookhaven National Laboratory was much in the news when Marburger
became its director in 1998. A tritium leak in its High Flux Beam Reactor
attracted considerable media attention, resulting in a call to close
the reactor by local groups, a senator and a representative. At a late
1997 press conference, as incoming director, Marburger remarked that
the laboratory failed to communicate adequately with the local community.
The Secretary of Energy closed HFBR in 1999. Marburger has been praised
for the way in which he reestablished communication with the lab's neighbors.
His "Personal Statement" on BNL's web site reflects his approach:
"As society holds us to ever higher standards of accountability
for the impact of our work on health and environment, we need to learn
new ways of working. And we need to learn new ways of describing our
increasingly complex mission to the public that is skeptical and concerned
about the undesirable side effects of technology."
In a statement to BNL employees after the White House announcement,
Marburger said "I would be delighted to be nominated for this position."
He does not expect the Senate nomination hearing before September. In
discussing the announcement, Floyd Kvamme, the co-chair of the President's
Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST), said that Bush
was "looking for somebody with broad experience and an appreciation
of practical science issues." Marburger describes himself as a lifelong
Democrat. In an interview with the New York Times, Marburger
declared, "If there's any subject that should be bipartisan, it's science."
Richard M. Jones
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics