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November 17, 2011 

Proposed Cuts to White House Science Office Could Be Crippling

WASHINGTON (November 17, 2011) – Congress is expected to take up a spending bill later this week that would gut the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and undermine its ability to ensure the integrity of federal scientific information, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). A conference committee agreed earlier this week to cut OSTP’s budget by 32 percent from $6.6 million to $4.5 million.

UCS has closely followed OSTP’s struggle to develop scientific integrity policies for federal agencies. Such policies would ensure that federal scientific data is handled appropriately and that government scientists are able to do their work and share their scientific analysis without political interference.

“OSTP’s plate is already overflowing, and these shortsighted cuts make it more difficult for the White House to put much-needed scientific integrity policies into place,” said Francesca Grifo, senior scientist and director of UCS’s Scientific Integrity Program. “OSTP’s efforts to create a strong scientific integrity culture within government could save money by ensuring policy decisions are made based on the best science.”

In a November 8 letter to members of Congress, Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, underscored the impact a House proposal to cut OSTP’s budget by 50 percent would have had on the office. “We believe such a drastic reduction to OSTP's budget will dramatically inhibit the ability of the federal government to coordinate, prioritize and manage the federal research and development (R&D) effort,” he wrote.

Grifo argued that cutting OSTP’s budget could lead to higher costs because OSTP helps coordinate federal research and ensure that agencies aren’t duplicating efforts. “This is a perfect example of Congress playing politics with science and inadvertently wasting taxpayer dollars,” she said.

 

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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