10 things the White House wants Trump to do for science and technology

REUTERS/Mike Segar

With just one day until the Inauguration, the current White House administration is preparing for the transition.

While promoting science and technology innovation were major goals during Obama’s presidency, there’s still plenthy of mystery surrounding what we can expect from the Trump administration, so the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy decided to write Trump a to-do list.

The list was written by the director of OSTP, Dr. John Holden, and the White House CTO, Megan Smith, as part of a broader document which also outlined the importance of technology innovation and the advancements that President Obama made while in office.

Here’s what they want the president-elect to do:

1. Invest in Fundamental Research

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The to-do list emphasized that “funding for R&D is essential to address societal needs in areas in which the private sector does not have sufficient economic incentive to make the required investments.” They listed specific areas in which Trump should focus funding.

2. Recruit, Retain, and Empower Top S&T Talent in the Federal Government

Megan Smith.
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Take White House CTO Megan Smith, for example. Obama appointed Smith to the CTO position in 2014. She formerly was a vice president at Google[x] at Google. That said, the to-do list encouraged Trump to continue to hire technical leaders “who can help build a more effective, efficient, and innovative government.”

3. Identify and Pursue Grand Challenges


The letter defined grand challenges as “ambitious yet achievable goals that harness [science and technology] and that have the potential to capture the public’s imagination.” Examples include the “BRAIN Initiative, NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge, an Administration effort to eliminate the waiting list for organ transplantation, and a nanotechnology-inspired Grand Challenge in brain-inspired computing.”

4. Increase Access to High-Quality STEM Education and Drive Innovation for Education

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The OSTP outlined some of the ways Obama tried to improve STEM education, yet they admitted that there is room for improvement. They are hoping Trump will create new models of grant-making, invest in educational-technology and make the high school experience more engaging, among other things.

5. Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Mitigate the Impacts of Bias

US Department of Education Secretary John B. King, Jr. visits an elementary school in Tampa, Florida in October 2015.

The to-do list said that one of our nation’s strengths is “the unparalleled diversity of the American people and the diversity of ideas that they generate.” They argue that by encouraging a more diverse STEM workforce, Trump can help eliminate systemic borders and the impact of bias.

6. Support Innovative Entrepreneurs

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The to-do list explained how much of an impact startups have on job creation in this country, argueing that Trump “should consider additional steps to ensure early-stage entrepreneurs from all backgrounds have access to startup capital.”

7. Maximize Economic and Social Return from Federal Government Data and theResults of Federally Funded R&D

“Going forward, agencies should identify additional steps to make scientific knowledge freely and readily available to accelerate innovation and drive advances in health, energy, environmental protection, agriculture, national security, and other areas of national and international importance,” Smith and Holden wrote in their to-do list.

8. Increase Federal Agency Capacity for Innovation

The OSTP believes the “right combination of talent, innovative thinking, and technological tools, government can deliver better results.” That said, they also included a list of suggestions on how to improve the effectiveness of Federal Agencies.

9. Promote Open Government through Transparency, Participation, and Collaboration

The to-do list claims that as part of the government’s effort to increase transparency, participation and collaboration, it hopes to improve how the American people interact with government. They are also hoping that by improving transparency, they will be an inspiration to other nations hoping to also create more transparent and collaborative governments.

10. Continue International S&T Cooperation and Engagement


This is the last thing on the OSTP’s to-do list for Trump. The staff explain that “OSTP works to strengthen international science, technology, and innovation cooperation among the United States and international partners through bilateral and multilateral engagements, and to support the President’s foreign-policy agenda through international science, technology, and innovation activities.”