Issue Date: February 7, 2011
Scientific Integrity: Interior Department Is First To Implement White House Policy
The Department of Interior last week became the first department to issue a new policy on scientific integrity based on a December 2010 memo from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. Groups concerned that the government has manipulated research results for political ends welcome the policy, which all agencies must put in place by April.
“This policy sets forth clear expectations for all employees—political and career—to uphold the principles of scientific integrity and establishes a process for impartial review of alleged breaching of those principles,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.
Salazar named Ralph Morgenweck, senior science adviser for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, as the Interior Department’s scientific integrity officer, a position established under the department’s new policy.
Among the specifics in the policy are provisions to facilitate the free flow of scientific and scholarly information, assurances that department scientists may speak freely to the news media and the public on areas related to their work, and protections for whistle-blowers.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), one of the watchdog groups lobbying for stronger federal policies on scientific integrity, thinks Interior’s policy has some ambiguities related to transparency and the rights of researchers to publish their findings, but says it is a significant step.
“This is very much a work in progress but appears to be a good faith effort to grapple with a basket of knotty issues which heretofore have been kept out of sight,” PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch commented in a statement.
- Chemical & Engineering News
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