Agencies Report Scientific Integrity Progress

Fully 30 executive branch departments, agencies, and offices have responded to OSTP Director John Holdren’s call for progress reports on the development of their respective scientific integrity policies, and six of those have submitted draft or completed policies for comment.  The responses, which were due this week pursuant to Dr. Holdren’s December 17, 2010, Memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, include representatives of every executive branch department—a gratifying first step to the assurance of scientific integrity across the executive branch as called for by President Obama.

On March 9, 2009, President Obama issued an Executive Memorandum on scientific integrity, setting forth clearly and unconditionally the fundamental principles of the Administration’s stance on this subject and asking OSTP Director Holdren to develop recommendations for further Presidential action “to guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch.”

Dr. Holdren’s December 17 Memorandum set forth minimum scientific integrity standards and called upon agencies and departments to undertake specific actions to develop and implement scientific integrity policies. Dr. Holdren requested that agencies provide OSTP with progress reports within 120 days.

In the intervening months, OSTP reached out to agencies in various ways in order to help them with the development of their policies. In addition to providing consultations to individual agencies and maintaining a website with scientific integrity resources, OSTP hosted an interagency workshop in March to help executive agencies and departments craft their scientific integrity policies. Speakers from the General Services Administration, the Office of Government Ethics, and OSTP discussed components of Dr. Holdren’s December Memorandum, focusing on Federal Advisory Committees, professional associations, and media and communications policies, respectively. The workshop was attended by over forty representatives from over thirty departments and agencies, all of whom were clearly taking this important responsibility to heart.

OSTP is pleased to report that it has received progress reports from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Labor, Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, the State Department, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Executive Office of the President, as well as from the Department of Defense and the Department of Commerce and a number of individual branches, agencies and offices within those last two departments.  

OSTP will continue to work with agencies and departments in developing policies that will help provide ongoing assurance that science and technology are brought to bear by this Administration, and by future ones, with the greatest effectiveness and integrity. OSTP will also soon release updated deadlines for next stages of progress by agencies and departments, with the goal of maintaining the good momentum achieved to date.

Mira Atanassova is a Student Volunteer at the Office of Science and Technology Policy

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