Commerce Committee Approves Dr. Prabhakar for OSTP Director, Sends President Biden’s Nominee Closer to Confirmation

July 28, 2022

Cantwell: “Dr. Prabhakar is supremely qualified”


On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the nomination of Dr. Arati Prabhakar to serve as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Committee, applauded her nomination as a qualified leader to head the agency’s efforts to grow diversity in STEM and advance U.S. leadership in science and technology. Her nomination will next be considered by the full Senate. 

“Dr. Prabhakar is supremely qualified, having previously served as Director for both NIST and DARPA. Her proven leadership and accomplishments at these agencies will be of great service to the OSTP,” said Sen. Cantwell during yesterday’s executive session. “If confirmed, she will be tasked with elevating OSTP’s role to ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in STEM, increase investments in R&D, promote greater diversity in the sciences, improve our weather forecasting capabilities, and protect our scientific research.”

The OSTP director will play a vital role in ensuring the implementation and effectiveness of new programs created by the CHIPS and Science Act, including requiring the director to develop and submit to Congress a comprehensive national science and technology strategy.

President Biden nominated Dr. Prabhakar on June 21, 2022, and on July 20, the Commerce Committee held her nomination hearing. The director will serve as the President’s Chief Advisor for Science and Technology, a co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and a member of his Cabinet since elevating the position at the start of his term.

Dr. Arati Prabhakar served as director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and at 34, she became the first woman to lead the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). While there, she took both the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Advanced Technological Partner Program to a national scale to boost competitiveness in our small and medium-sized manufacturing base. She spent years in Silicon Valley helping to translate R&D into deployment and later founded a nonprofit to develop solutions to challenges of climate and health and to open access for every person to have opportunities in the sciences. Prabhakar’s family immigrated from India to the United States when she was three years old. She was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology, where she also earned a M.S. in electrical engineering.

Chair Cantwell’s opening statement is available here and video here.