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William R. Steiger

 William Raymond Steiger (born c. 1969 in Arlington, Virginia) is the Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Global Health Affairs. He is the son of deceased former Congressman William A. Steiger and Janet Dempsey Steiger of Wisconsin, and the godson of former President George H.W. Bush.[1] He has repeatedly been the center of controversy as a political appointee who has interfered with the publication of scientific or medical data or reports that did not serve the political interests of the administration of George W. Bush. According to the Washington Post, Steiger has no "background or expertise in medicine or public health."[2]. He was appointed by Tommy Thompson, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Presidential candidate. On January 10, 2007 he was nominated to be Ambassador to Mozambique.[3] The nomination is currently pending in the Senate.



Steiger graduated in 1987 from the St. Albans School for Boys and in 1991 from Yale University, where he majored in history. He earned a Ph.D. in Latin American History at U.C.L.A..[4]


Controversies have included:

  • July 29, 2007 - The Washington Post reported that Steiger blocked then Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona's report "Call to Action on Global Health." The report linked deteriorating global health with escalating social ills and violence. The report said, "we cannot overstate . . . that problems in remote parts of the globe can no longer be ignored. Diseases that Americans once read about as affecting people in regions . . . most of us would never visit are now capable of reaching us directly. The hunger, disease, and death resulting from poor food and nutrition create social and political instability . . . and that instability may spread to other nations as people migrate to survive." At a July 10 House committee hearing, Carmona stated he was called in to Steiger's office and told "You don't get it...this will be a political document, or it will not be released." In a statement, Steiger confirmed that he disagreed with Carmona's report: "A document meant to educate the American public about health as a global challenge and urge them to action should at least let Americans know what their generosity is already doing in helping to solve those challenges."[2]
  • A September 10, 2004 story in Science stated that "when HHS clamped down on foreign travel by its scientists, Steiger began personally approving each trip. When industry groups criticized a World Health Organization (WHO) report on nutrition, Steiger slammed it as scientifically flawed. When the department declared that it would choose which U.S. scientists WHO could invite as expert advisers, Steiger signed the memo."[5]
  • In April 2004 it was reported that Denis Aitken, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), received a letter from Steiger stating that all WHO requests for scientists to participate in its meetings be sent to Steiger's office. The WHO, the United Nations ' leading health agency, has always directly invited scientists. In his letter, Steiger wrote "Except under very limited circumstances, U.S. government experts do not and cannot participate in WHO consultations in their individual capacity," and that civil service and other regulations "require HHS experts to serve as representatives of the U.S. government at all times and advocate U.S. government policies." Steiger further stated that "the current practice in which the WHO invites specific HHS officials by name to serve in these capacities has not always resulted in the most appropriate selections." [1]

See also

  • Politicization of science


  1. ^ a b Bush appointee must clear any scientist advising WHO; World health agency says policy threatens free, open inquiry, Tom Hamburger, Los Angeles Times, June 26, 2004, retrieved on July 29, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Bush Aide Blocked Report, Christopher Lee and Marc Kaufman, The Washington Post, July 29, 2007.
  3. ^ Nomination notice on the White House website.
  4. ^ Steiger's official biography on the HHS website.
  5. ^ SCIENCE POLICY: The Man Behind the Memos, Jocelyn Kaiser, Science September 10, 2004, Vol. 305. no. 5690, pp. 1552 - 1553
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "William_R._Steiger". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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