Three important changes in agency and cabinet heads have been announced
in the last few weeks. Each of the changes affects major sources of
funding for physical sciences research.
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION:
Following Senate confirmation, President George Bush officially appointed
Arden L. Bement Jr. to be the director of the National Science Foundation.
Director Bement is the 12th individual to hold this position. Bement
replaced Rita Colwell as the acting director of NSF on February 22,
2004. He was previously the director of the National Institute of Standards
and Technology. Bement's six-year term began on November 24, 2004. For
a brief biography of Bement, see http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/forum/bement/bement_bio.htm
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY:
Following the announcement by Spencer Abraham that he would retire
as Secretary of Energy (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2004/147.html),
President George Bush nominated Deputy Treasury Secretary Samuel Bodman
to be the new Energy Secretary.
In remarks at the White House on December 10, Bush said: "Sam
Bodman is an experienced executive who has served in my administration
as Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury.
During his varied and distinguished career in the private sector, Sam
has been a professor at MIT, president of an investment firm, the chairman
and CEO of an industrial company with operations worldwide. In academics,
in business, and in government, Sam Bodman has shown himself to be a
problem solver who knows how to set goals and he knows how to reach
them. He will bring to the Department of Energy a great talent for management
and the precise thinking of an engineer. I thank him for agreeing to
serve once again."
In a brief statement, Bodman responded, "Mr. President, the
job as Energy Secretary, in many ways, combines all aspects of my life's
professional work. I started as a teacher in chemical engineering at
MIT, spent 17 years helping create and manage Fidelity Investments,
and then spent 14 years managing Cabot Corporation, a globally-deployed
chemical company. Each of these activities dealt with the financial
markets and the impact of energy and technology on those markets."
The full text of both Bush's and Bodman's statements can be accessed
House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Senate
Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) both issued
statements supporting the Bodman nomination. Boehlert stated, "I
am extremely pleased with the nomination of Sam Bodman as Secretary
of Energy. We've worked closely with Deputy Secretary Bodman when he
was the number two official at the Commerce Department. He has broad
experience in industry, academia and government, excellent management
skills, and boundless intellectual curiosity. Obviously on the Science
Committee we are especially pleased that the Energy Department will
have leadership with great interest and expertise in the Department's
important science responsibilities. We look forward to once again being
able to work with Dr. Bodman."
Bodman will appear before Domenici's committee for a confirmation hearing.
In his statement, Domenici said, "I visited with Mr. Bodman
this morning. He is articulate and brings a broad and impressive set
of skills to the Department of Energy. His management experience will
be a boon to the department. His financial expertise will be a tremendous
asset in accurately assessing the economic impact of energy policy and
crafting that policy in an environment of fiscal restraint. I am particularly
pleased with his technical training and outstanding track record at
MIT. He understands the critical role science, research and advanced
technologies will play in meeting our energy challenges."
Bodman has a B.S. in chemical engineering from Cornell University and
a ScD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was an
Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. His previous experience
included service as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Commerce,
where he had oversight over NOAA, NIST, and the Patent and Trademark
Office. A brief biography for Bodman can be read at http://www.treas.gov/organization/bios/bodman-e.html
Bodman has appeared before congressional committees on two rather controversial
issues. In a March 2003 House Science Committee hearing, Bodman defended
the Bush Administration's decision to terminate the Advanced Technology
Program (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2003/031.html)
and he appeared at a 2002 Senate Commerce Committee hearing to discuss
the same topic (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2002/049.html,
In July 2003, he was one of several senior officials testifying on the
administration's "Strategic Plan for the Climate Change Science
Program" (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2003/101.html.)
At the 2002 Commerce Committee hearing, Bodman was asked a number of
times about the Bush Administration's decision to terminate the Advanced
Technology Program by the program's strongest defender, Senator Ernest
F. Hollings (D-SC). Despite their great differences in opinion, Hollings
told Bodman, "we are very lucky to have you."
Yesterday, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe sent a five-page hand-written
letter to President Bush announcing his resignation. In this letter,
Administrator O'Keefe explained, "It is this very commitment
to family that draws me to conclude that I must depart public service.
The first of three children will begin college next fall. I owe them
the same opportunity my parents provided for me to pursue higher education
without the crushing burden of debt thereafter. That commitment from
them made possible all that I have been able to pursue in my professional
life. I owe my children that same option, but I can't do that if I remain
in public service."
O'Keefe has served as NASA Administrator for almost three years, during
which the Administration developed, in response to critics, a vision
for the space agency. Additional information on O'Keefe's decision to
resign, including a copy of his letter, can be viewed at http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/aok_resigns.html