New Federal Scientific Integrity Framework Can Protect Public Health, Restore Trust

Statement by Jacob Carter, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jan 12, 2023

Washington (January 12, 2023)—Today, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has issued a new framework for scientific integrity protections that will improve the use of science at agencies across the federal government. This framework will protect scientists—but also protect public health and ensure that the nation will get the best scientific information from the federal government, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Dr. Jacob Carter, research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

“This framework is a landmark policy that history will not forget. The new framework reflects decades of work by the Center for Science and Democracy and many others who have advocated for stronger scientific integrity. As a former federal scientist myself, I know that you can’t do your best work if you’re operating under the real fear that you’ll become a political target, or that your work will be hidden, manipulated, or ignored. The new framework sends a strong message to everyone who carries out scientific work, and to the political appointees and public servants who oversee those agencies.

“The work of federal scientists touches all of us. Lives depend on extreme weather forecasting, pollution monitoring, medical research, and other scientific efforts. So we need to be able to trust that we’re getting the best available evidence-based science, based on the public interest rather than the narrow ideological or commercial interests of the most powerful. That’s why we need clear, enforceable scientific integrity rules like those in today’s new framework.

“This is a very strong framework, but the real impact will come from how it’s implemented. Every agency now has a responsibility to make sure its expert staff know their rights, and that political appointees know that these rules will be taken seriously and they will be held accountable if they break them. And as important as these commitments from the administration are, we also need Congress to act and pass a scientific integrity bill that codifies these protections into law, so they don’t fade away under a future presidency. Our health and safety depend on it.”