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Science Panel Decline

Expert panels that give science advice to federal agencies have met less often and have lost members during President Donald Trump's first year in office, Science reports.

In a new report, the Union of Concerned Scientist says that nearly two-thirds of the panels — there are about 200 in total — met fewer times in 2017 than their charters demand and that there was a 14 percent decline in panel membership. That, it says, is more than during the transition periods for both Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

The organization analyzed the records of the science advisory committees that advise the government, including the Departments of Commerce, Interior, and Energy as well as the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency, and interviewed current and former panel members.

Report author Andrew Rosenberg from UCS tells Science that part of the decline appears to be part of a deliberate move to remove scientists from policymaking efforts. If it isn't deliberate, he argues that "it's a big omission because they proceeded pretty aggressively in making some regulatory decisions, mostly rollbacks, without asking for scientific advice from external experts."

The report also notes that the Trump Administration has yet to nominate a presidential science advisor.

A survey conducted separately by Science recently found that many researchers would be willing to serve as science advisor or on an advisory committee, if asked.