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Federal Government Must Accelerate Hiring of Scientists


At a March 17th hearing before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Dr. Candice Wright, Acting Director for Science Technology Assessment with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, reviewed the need to accelerate hiring of scientists and technical specialists in their respective fields.  Loss of critical personnel was evident in many government departments including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy during the previous Administration. The situation with regard to the USDA Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture has been extensively reviewed since these vital agencies were subjected to forced attrition. In addition, many scientists in governmnt service are approaching retirement age.


ERS Staff Protest relocation from DC to Missouri

Dr. Wright emphasized the need to recruit from a wider base of universities, including minority-serving institutions and to deemphasize contract positions. 


Dr. Andrew Rosenberg of the Union of Concerned Scientists informed the House Committee that agencies place bureaucratic obstacles in the path of prospective employees with delays of up to three months before making formal job offers during which time the best prospective candidates find alternative employment in industry and academia.


If the U.S. is to maintain a position of dominance in agricultural technology science must drive policy. Administrators of agencies should be willing to empower ther research teams and encourasge achievement free of political restraints. Human capital is difficult to quantify but must be nutured in an environment that stimulates  creativity