President Biden said on Jan. 27 that he will re-charter the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), a group that was formed in 2001 with a broad mandate to advise the President on science and technology issues.

Since its creation, PCAST also has been rechartered by former Presidents Obama and Trump during their terms in office. The council, which traditionally has had significant membership from the private sector, will be co-chaired by President Biden’s Science Advisor. Dr. Eric Lander has been nominated for that position, which also heads the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

The council, the White House said, will “advise the President on scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics.”

“Leaders across the Biden-Harris Administration, including the President himself and his senior advisors in the Executive Office of the President, will seek input, advice, and the best-available science, data, and scientific and technological information from scientists, engineers, and other experts in science, technology, and innovation,” the White House pledged.

In a related executive order, President Biden said PCAST will have a maximum of 26 members, one of whom may be the U.S. Chief Technology Officer. The Department of Energy will provide necessary funding for PCAST to conduct its activities.

Elsewhere on the technology policy front, the White House said President Biden planned to sign a memorandum “on scientific integrity to send a clear message that the Biden-Harris Administration will protect scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely to provide valuable information to the American people.”

The coming memorandum covers “scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking,” and directs Federal agencies to make “evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data,” the White House said. The OSTP director will be charged with ensuring scientific integrity across Federal agencies.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.