Issue Date: November 28, 2016
ACS and politics
I was in no way surprised to read about the politicization and potential misuse of power by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chair of the House of Representatives Science, Space & Technology Committee (C&EN, Oct. 24, page 20). His track record of questionable science policy leadership is now well-established, and as stated in C&EN’s article, “Smith has been stirring up controversy in the Science Committee almost since the moment he took over in January 2013.” His leadership in this position has been criticized by members of Congress from both parties.
Yet, in 2013, I remember being shocked to read in C&EN that the American Chemical Society had awarded Smith ACS’s 2013 Public Service Award for “vision and leadership in public policy that benefits science, engineering, and innovation” (April 29, 2013, page 8) despite the fact that many of his actions run contrary to ACS’s own statement to “promote science and sustainability in public policy.” I remember feeling that this was political gamesmanship by ACS back in 2013.
Now, three years later, what has that recognition of Smith gotten ACS members and the broader scientific community? It appears the representative’s “vision and leadership” remains unchanged and that he is still as much a threat to transparent and responsible leadership in science policy as he was three years ago. I hope ACS will learn from these past actions by ensuring all future honors are based on merits and achievements, rather than politics and pandering.
Name withheld upon request
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