White House Releases New Scientific Integrity Task Force Report

Statement by Jacob Carter, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jan 11, 2022

WASHINGTON (January 11, 2022)—Today, the White House’s task force on scientific integrity released its official report, offering recommendations to strengthen the role of science in the federal government and protect scientists from political interference. This report gives the Biden-Harris administration a road map for the urgent work of creating a stronger, more effective federal scientific enterprise, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

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

“As the nation works to emerge from a devastating pandemic and stares down the daunting challenges of climate change and environmental injustice, it’s never been more important for the federal government to make the best possible use of its scientific resources. But the federal scientific enterprise has been severely harmed by underfunding, neglect and outright hostility from political leaders in recent years. The release of today’s task force report shows that the Biden-Harris administration understands this challenge.

“First and foremost, it’s encouraging that this task force report exists at all. The previous administration committed over 200 abuses of science and created an incredibly hostile environment that drove hundreds of experienced public servants out of government.

“It’s gratifying to see that the task force has been listening to the scientific community. Scientists have been increasingly active in calling for stronger protections to allow experts to do their best work on behalf of the public. In many ways, the findings of this task force reflect the recommendations UCS has made to strengthen the role of science at the federal level. As a former EPA scientist, I know how vital it is that experts can feel free to follow their research without fear and know that their work will be taken seriously. The White House should continue to provide opportunities for scientists and the public at large to offer their input as the federal government works to strengthen scientific integrity policies. The administration needs to ensure that all agencies have strong, well-implemented policies and that the federal government is attentive to ethics, environmental justice, and accountability to the public.

“The administration has made some progress already, but there’s a long way to go to rebuild and re-imagine the federal government’s scientific enterprise. It’s time to put these ideas into practice.

“However, presidential actions can only do so much, and only for so long. The ability for federal scientists to do their important work can’t be left to chance. To truly make lasting progress, we need Congress to pass scientific integrity legislation and make sure these protections are codified into the law.”