Friday, March 26, 2021

Will there be a federal science hiring wave five to ten years from now? Betteridge sez no

From C&EN's Andrea Widener, this story: 
The US government needs to better recruit and retain scientists, according to witnesses at a March 17 hearing by a subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. A decline in the number of federal scientists accelerated during the Donald J. Trump administration, data show. 

For example, the Environmental Protection Agency’s workforce decreased 3.9% during Trump’s tenure and 16% since 2009, according to numbers presented by the committee. The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy lost 20% of its workforce during the first 3 years of the Trump administration. And a large proportion of government scientists are nearing retirement age. 

The witnesses agreed that the government’s recruiting methods are outdated and that hiring takes too long—up to 100 days, in some cases. In addition to fixing those problems, federal science agencies should start recruiting from a wider array of universities, such as those the US categorizes as minority-serving institutions, and move away from the trend of making more jobs contract positions, the witnesses said. Qualified scientists are available, Andrew Rosenberg of the Union of Concerned Scientists said at the hearing, but agencies are not making the jobs seem attractive. “A lot of these are self-inflicted wounds,” he said.

I don't see Congress coughing up for more federal scientists any time soon, but you really wonder what the median age of a FDA or a EPA mid-level manager might be... 


  1. Potentially a hiring wave (or hiring waves) for postdocs

  2. I wonder if this could be addressed by better advertising/outreach to younger psotdocs. Many aren't aware that these jobs are out there.

  3. I really do hope that the government hires more scientists at the EPA, FDA, and Dept of Agriculture, but as CJ said I doubt this will happen. I figure most employees would start at a GS-13/14 if they have a PhD. You can look up payscale here:

    It's not bad actually considering the benefits of working a federal job, but from what I hear the government and political appointees can make your life miserable. This is probably why a bunch of senior EPA scientists quit under the Trump Administration. Biden/Harris administration and the current Congress has a narrow window to do this hiring so if its going to happen it should occur in the next 2 years.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20