Executive Order 13895 formally re-establishes the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), a panel of non-governmental experts in science, technology, education, and innovation who advises the President and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on such policy issues. PCAST further provides the President with scientific and technical information to inform policy related to the economy, employment, and national security. In this advisory role, PCAST must consult with and solicit information from various public and private stakeholders. Finally, PCAST responds to requests for information from the National Science and Technology Council.
In addition to the above duties, PCAST’s membership serves as the advisory panels that are referenced in two existing laws:
- High Performance Computing Act of 1991, which established the President’s Innovation and Technology Advisory Committee. The law charges this Committee with providing advice to the OSTP director about high-performance computing, including recommendations about reviewing and revising the High Performance Computing program.
- 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, which established the National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel. The law charges this Panel with advising the President and the National Science and Technology Council about nanotechnology science and engineering, including assessments regarding the progress, management, and effectiveness of the National Nanotechnology Initiative.
In addition to the OSTP Director, who serves as PCAST’s chairperson, the President will nominate up to sixteen individuals to serve on the Council. The Department of Energy will provide any necessary funding and administrative support for PCAST to carry out its activities. PCAST will dissolve on October 22, 2021, unless the President takes further action to extend its term.
On October 22, 2019, in addition to releasing this Executive Order, President Donald Trump named the first seven members to the re-established PCAST.
PCAST has existed in various forms since 1933 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt; the first organization specifically called PCAST was formed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 and existed under the Administrations of Presidents Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Executive Order 13895 represents the first establishment (i.e., specifically defining its responsibilities and membership) of PCAST under the Trump Administration. However, PCAST has nominally existed throughout the entirety of the Trump Administration, as extended by previous Executive Orders: Executive Order 13889, issued on September 27, 2019; Executive Order 13811, issued on September 29, 2017; and Executive Order 13708, issued on September 30, 2015, by President Obama.