Presidential appointments to key scientific positions are the norm in the USA and elsewhere

Dear Editor,

Presidential appointments of key scientific positions in most countries are an accepted norm. In the United States, for example, numerous chiefs of key scientific bureaus are appointed by the President, including the Surgeon General. For example, Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr. and Dr. Kathie Olsen, Director and Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation in the United States were appointed by President Bush. Of course, in the United States, there are and have been many commentaries and discussions regarding controversial presidential nominations, and there should be. In some instances, presidential nominations of key positions needs to be approved by the senate – in the absence of such a body in Guyana, cabinet discussions would be necessary, and I am sure in the instance of Dr. Narine’s appointment, there was a discussion among key government ministers at Cabinet, regarding his appointment to this key post. In Australia, the Australian Science and Technology Council Act, 1978, stipulates that the council’s members are appointed by the relevant Minister of Government, and sanctioned by the Prime Minister. The Director-General of Britain’s six research councils was appointed by ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair during his tenure as Prime Minister. I can go on to list and detail appointments of scientific directors of institutes and councils around the world by the minister in charge of science and technology, the prime minister or president, but I think the point has been made. In many instances, the President, Prime Minister or Minister whose portfolio includes science and technology would seek advice before such an appointment, and usually the appointments are made of people who have demonstrated, both nationally and internationally, that they are suitable for the position. I am sure President Jagdeo sought advice before he appointed Dr. Narine. Certainly, Dr. Narine’s international reputation would have been easily ascertained.

Both Drs. Beharry and Daljeet have written, in response to my letter captioned “Are these critics entitled to criticize Dr Narine” (07.11.01) that Dr. Narine is eminently qualified for the position of Director of the Institute of Applied Science and Technology. Furthermore, Dr. Beharry has even recommended that Dr. Narine be offered the position of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana, so high is his personal esteem of Dr. Narine’s abilities and qualifications. So, one can safely say that these gentlemen see no issues with Dr. Narine’s suitability for the position, but as they have stated themselves, take issue with the manner of his appointment. However, these gentlemen would be well-advised to examine the nature of key national scientific positions around the world, and including Canada, where they reside. I refer them to some of the examples I have stated, above.

In March, 2007, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) hosted a workshop on the “International Mobility of Researchers”. The scoping document for the workshop noted “

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