WASHINGTON, March 30 – Under mounting pressure to fill key science positions, President George W. Bush has announced the appointment of venture capitalist Floyd Kvamme as co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a committee that meets three times a year and advises the president about such matters.
Kvamme, a general partner in the VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, serves on the board of a number of semiconductor firms. During the presidential campaign, he advised Bush on technology issues and was a six-figure contributor to Republican causes.
“The scientific community will no doubt benefit from his impressive background in technology issues and close relationship with the President,” said a statement issued by Sherwood Boehlert, chairman of the House Science Committee.
However, Kvamme is a relative unknown in the scientific community. Representatives of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology declined to comment, citing lack of familiarity with the appointee.
“Don’t look for a bunch of academic scientists” among Bush's science advisors, warned University of Maryland professor Bob Park in a newsletter published Friday by the American Physical Society.
Scientists have begun clamoring for the president to appoint a director for the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The OSTP director also fills the role of second co-chair for PCAST. President Clinton had filled this position soon after being elected, and some speculate that the lack of a science champion within the Bush Administration is weakening the position of agencies like the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy in the budget battle.
Bush announced the appointment Wednesday in a meeting with high-tech executives. Defending the tightened spending in his budget plan, he said, “We need to have lower taxes, instead of a bigger government.”
The president also noted that the White House was working with the Senate to make the R&D tax credit permanent.