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April 19, 2011 

Federal Agencies Scheduled to Report to White House This Week On Status of New Scientific Integrity Policies

Federal agencies were scheduled to report back to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) yesterday on their progress developing new scientific integrity policies. The deadline was set by the White House’s December 17, 2010, scientific integrity guidelines.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) contacted OSTP yesterday to inquire about the status of the agency submissions. According to an OSTP spokesperson, the office will review the submissions and announce what it received from the agencies as early as tomorrow. The spokesperson also said OSTP will announce when it expects agencies to finalize their policies.

UCS has asked OSTP to explain how it plans to ensure that the more than 30 agencies required to develop scientific integrity policies do so in a transparent, timely and responsible manner.

UCS says a firm timeline is critical. After promising to end political interference in science during his presidential campaign and pledging to “restore science to its rightful place” in his inaugural address, President Obama directed OSTP to create the first federal scientific integrity guidelines in March 2009.

The Department of the Interior got out ahead of other agencies and publicly released a draft scientific policy last August. In response to public criticism, the agency updated and significantly improved it in September, underscoring the need for public disclosure.

UCS has identified a number of best practices to help protect the integrity of federal scientific work based on data from monitoring political interference in federal science and surveys of scientists in more than a dozen agencies. Those surveys reveal widespread and ongoing interference in federal scientific work by political appointees. In many cases, political interference in science has prevented critical public health, safety and environmental research from properly informing federal decisionmaking.

 

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

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