Dr. Robert Palmer
Democratic Staff Director of the Committee on Science
U.S. House of Representatives, 1993 - 2004
Dr. Palmer gave a public lecture "Science, Policy and Politics: A View from the Hill" on April 18 on the CU-Boulder Campus.
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Bob Palmer is a well-recognized expert on science policy and the United States Congress. He had the longest tenure of any Staff Director of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, serving in that capacity for 12 years until his retirement in January 2005.
The Science Committee’s jurisdiction encompasses all federally funded civilian R&D programs, including space, energy, environment, and the physical sciences. As Democratic Staff Director, he was responsible for formulating and helping to implement the agenda of the Committee’s Democratic Caucus, which ranged in size from 22 to 40 Members of Congress. During his service on the Science Committee, he organized or supervised literally hundreds of Congressional hearings, and drafted or supervised the drafting of scores of bills, including agency authorization bills, which became public law. In addition, for many years he was the Committee’s lead staff member involved in analyzing Federal R&D budgets and in interacting with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
Given the essentially bipartisan nature of the Science Committee, Dr. Palmer worked not only with the House Democratic Leadership, but also with the Committee’s Republican leadership, and with scientific leaders over five Administrations, to promote sensible policies for science and technology. A key part of the Staff Director’s job involved interacting with universities, high-tech groups, scientific associations, and other key constituencies to identify policy issues and policy responses and to promote enhanced public understanding of S&T policy issues.
Dr. Palmer came to the Science Committee in 1979 as a AAAS Congressional Science Fellow. Between 1979-1993, he worked in a variety of capacities on the Committee, including Staff Director of the Subcommittee on International Scientific Cooperation and Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight.
Dr. Palmer holds a B.A. from Harvard University in Psychology, an M.S. from Northeastern University in Biology, and a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in Marine Biology. Prior to his service on Capitol Hill, he worked for a year as a VISTA volunteer in the inner city and on an Indian reservation, for two years as a private detective, and for several years as a researcher in marine biology. He has served on a number of boards and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.