On March 17, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing to address strategies to rebuild the federal scientific workforce especially related to recruiting and retaining scientific talent. The Subcommittee heard testimony from Acting Director for Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics at the U.S. Government Accountability Office Candice Wright; President and CEO at the Partnership for Public Service Max Stier; Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists Dr. Andrew Rosenberg; and Former Director of Science and Technology at the Office of Water at the Environmental Protection Agency Dr. Betsy Southerland.
Subcommittee Chairman Bill Foster (D-IL) and Ranking Member Jay Obernolte (R-CA) both acknowledged the need to improve the capabilities of the federal government to hire scientists, and Subcommittee members of both parties seemed broadly supportive of suggestions provided by the panelists to increase the federal scientific workforce and reform federal hiring practices. Some of the recommendations discussed by Subcommittee members and panelists included reducing the budgetary and political restraints on hiring scientists, improving the federal government’s “brand” as an employer, simplifying the federal job-hunting process for scientists, offering meaningful scientific internships as a legitimate pipeline to full-time employment, investing in STEM education opportunities in elementary schools, and deemphasizing the reliance on temporary workers and contractors at federal agencies. Both Foster and Obernolte expressed interest in pursuing legislative action on these topics in the future.