Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., called on the Biden administration to immediately nominate the next director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) after the resignation of President Biden’s top science adviser and former OSTP director Dr. Eric Lander.

OSTP has been without a Senate-confirmed leader since Feb. 7 when Lander resigned after the White House confirmed that an internal investigation found credible evidence that he mistreated his staff. An internal review last year, prompted by a workplace complaint, found evidence that bullied staffers and treated them disrespectfully.

In a recent letter to President Biden, Wicker addresses the urgent need for a new director to manage these concerns of misconduct and retaliation by the former director and others at the senior management level.

“Until this post is filled, OSTP’s leadership will be encumbered by the lingering allegations of misconduct against Dr. Lander and the senior leadership that remains at OSTP,” Sen. Wicker wrote.

From the onset of his Presidency, President Biden signaled safe working environments as a priority. However, Sen. Wicker pointed out that Lander violated the White House’s internal safe and respectful workplace policy. Recently, Sen. Wicker explained that his committee staff has continued to receive reports of a toxic work environment at OSTP.

“If the White House cannot maintain its policies within its walls, Federal employees are unlikely to believe that policies regarding workplace behavior will protect them. It is my hope that you will promptly nominate strong and accountable leadership for OSTP,” Wicker wrote.

This letter follows a previous bipartisan letter sent on April 1 to President Biden from the leadership of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation requesting he quickly fill the OSTP leadership gap. However, the White House has yet to respond, nor has it nominated an individual for the role.

OSTP leads the Federal government’s efforts to develop scientific and technological policies, working across the private, state, and local sectors to ensure that the United States continues to be on the cutting edge of new developments.

According to Wicker, “a confirmed leader to guide progress on this monumental task” is a necessity and ensures that the United States is a “leader in these areas.”

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.