Scientific Integrity and the 2009 Presidential Transition
Federal government science has been critical to keeping us safe and healthy and protecting our environment. In recent years, however, the manipulation, suppression, and distortion of federal government science has misinformed the public and led to poor policy decisions.
In an updated report, UCS has put forward a set of detailed recommendations for President Obama and the 111th Congress to adopt to restore scientific integrity to federal policy making. UCS also released ten New Year’s Resolutions that the Obama administration should take to start off on the right foot.
The recommendations are based on input from thousands of scientists, current and former government science advisors, congressional aides, reporters, and public interest organizations from throughout the political spectrum. They center around five broad themes:
- Protecting federal government scientists
- Increasing transparency and openness in agency decision-making
- Reaffirming the important role of science in the regulatory process
- Providing high-quality advice from scientists and researchers to federal policymakers
- Improving the monitoring of existing programs to ensure adequate enforcement of current laws
The recommendations are consistent with a statement issued in 2008 by scientific community leaders calling on the U.S. government to establish conditions conducive to a thriving scientific enterprise. Altogether, more than 15,000 scientists have expressed concern about political interference in science and called for reform.
UCS has met numerous times with representatives from the Obama transition team to share our recommendations. The materials we have shared include the following memos:
- Scientific Integrity at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Scientific Integrity at the Department of Interior
- Scientific Integrity at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Scientific Integrity at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)
- Scientific Integrity at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Scientific Integrity at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)
The Obama transition team is still in the process of nominating agency leaders, many of whom require confirmation by the Senate. Congress should push nominees to commit to taking concrete steps to restore scientific integrity to their agencies.
It will take the persistent and energetic engagement of scientists and activists alike to make sure our recommendations are a top priority for the new administration. Once leaders are in place, we will need your help to keep this issue on their radar screens. Scientists, engineers, and health professionals who want to show support for scientific integrity should endorse the 2008 scientist statement. Non-scientists should join the UCS Action Network.