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Ethics

US federal scientific integrity policies need improvement, report says

by Andrea Widener
April 12, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 15

 

Policies designed to protect scientific integrity at US federal agencies are not being fully enforced, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’s investigative arm. In 2007, Congress passed legislation calling for policies to enhance the integrity of scientific research. In 2010, the Barack Obama administration told agencies to create and execute scientific integrity policies to protect federal research from political interference. The GAO looked at whether those policies were being followed at nine agencies. Although some agencies have fully implemented their scientific integrity policies, six of the nine agencies need improvement, the GAO found. For example, the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have not educated their staff about their policies. The DOE hasn’t appointed a scientific integrity officer to provide oversight and doesn’t have plans to do so anytime soon. And the DOE and NASA do not have procedures for identifying or addressing scientific integrity violations. The agencies agreed with the GAO’s findings and said they will move to address them.

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