Progress and Problems

Government Scientists Report on Scientific Integrity at Four Agencies

Published Sep 28, 2015


Government science has a profound impact on our daily lives. The work done by scientists at federal agencies plays a pivotal role in shaping policies on public health, food and drug safety, our environment, national security, and many other issues that affect all of us.

Because government science is so important, it's vital to maintain a high standard of scientific integrity in federal agencies. UCS has been working to advance scientific integrity for more than a decade, and as part of that work, we have periodically surveyed federal scientists to learn more about the state of scientific integrity at their agencies.

In response to a 2009 memo from President Obama and a 2010 directive from White House science advisor John Holdren, agencies issued scientific integrity policies over the following years. UCS has followed this process, reviewing these policies and monitoring their implementation.

Our 2015 survey assesses scientific integrity, communication, and agency effectiveness at four federal agencies: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The survey results (see slideshow below for highlights, or download Appendix B for more detail) show that progress has been made in recent years—but much more work is needed. Scientists are still reporting inappropriate influence and interference with science, restrictions on their ability to communicate about their work, and constraints owing to lack of resources or respect for the scientific process.

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