Volume 31 - October 24, 2011 - OpEds & Commentaries

Inside the Black Box of Science Advisory Committee Empanelment

bridges vol. 25, April 2010 / Pielke's Perspective

By Roger A. Pielke

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pielke_r_new_small.jpgRoger A. Pielke, Jr.In my graduate seminar on science and technology policy, I have developed a unit focused on the empanelment of scientific advisory committees. The empanelment process - that is, the selection and appointment of committee members to advise policy makers - is a largely unstudied aspect of science policy, but one with significant importance for understanding the role of expertise in decision making and the intersection of science and politics.

In the United States, science advice has flourished in government. In 1950 approximately 350 scientists advised the federal government, but by 2003 approximately 8,000 scientists served on about 400 federal advisory committees. In addition, more than 6,000 scientists advise the government through committees of the National Research Council, established in 1918 to expand government access to scientific expertise.

Who chooses these advisors? And through what process?


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