Even as the appointment of Dr. John Holdren as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is held up by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), new hires at the OSTP have been made. The Wonk Room has learned that two veterans of the Clinton White House have taken top positions at the office, which “serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment” for the President.
Thomas Kalil, who was responsible for technology policy at the National Economic Council in the Clinton White House, is the new OSTP associate director for policy. Before joining the Obama White House, Kalil ran the Big Ideas @ Berkeley program at UC Berkeley. Kalil was also a member of California’s Blue Ribbon Nanotechnology Task Force, the scientific advisory board of Nanomix, and Q Network Inc. He has served on several committees of the National Academy of Sciences, including the Committee to Facilitate Interdisciplinary Research. As a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, Kalil developed a “National Innovation Agenda” and was on the advisory board of Science Progress.
Jim Kohlenberger, who was Vice President Al Gore’s senior policy adviser, is the new OSTP chief of staff. As one of Gore’s chief technology policy advisers, Kohlenberger “worked to help pass the Telecommunications Act of 1996, help shape the administration’s hands-off approach to the Internet and e-commerce, and help spearhead administration efforts to bridge the digital divide and connect every classroom to the Internet.” Before joining the OSTP, Kohlenberger was the executive director of the Voice on the Net (VON) Coalition, and a senior fellow at the Benton Foundation, where he supported universal broadband service. From 2006 until March of 2008, Kohlenberger lobbied Congress on behalf of the VON Coalition.
From what the Wonk Room has learned, the OSTP has not yet filled the positions of associate director of science or associate director of technology.