On March 9, thanks to your support, and after five years of sounding the call for our government to restore integrity to federal science, we reached an important milestone. President Obama released a memorandum that unequivocally signals the importance that he places on scientific integrity in federal policy making.
The president’s memo directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy aimed at preventing political interference in science. President Obama pledged to elevate the role of science in his administration by “ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda—and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.”
The memorandum highlights a series of objectives that reflect our own recommendations for restoring scientific integrity, including ensuring that agencies make available to the public the scientific analyzes behind policy decisions and that agencies develop procedures—including appropriate 'whistleblower' protections—to ensure the integrity of science-based policy decisions.
Over the past five years, with the help of supporters like you, UCS has drawn attention to the dangers of political interference in federal science by:
* exposing and documenting specific cases where science has been manipulated, suppressed, and distorted with our A-to-Z Guide to Political Interference;
* engaging more than 15,000 scientists, including 52 Nobel laureates, to call for the restoration of scientific integrity in policy making;
* giving federal scientists a voice through surveys of thousands of federal agency scientists and a report card on agency media policies;
* helping pass meaningful scientific integrity reform at the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and
* focusing media attention and public pressure on these critical issues.
It is thanks to you that we’ve come this far and made such progress.
However, there is still important work to be done. We encourage Congress to adopt new laws, such as 'whistleblower' protections for scientists, that will ensure future administrations cannot commit the kinds of abuses we've seen over the last eight years. We must reform agencies that are still hampered by conflicts of interest and restrictive media policies. And we must work to ensure that the principles of scientific integrity the president has outlined are carried out at federal agencies.
There is much work to be done to restore scientific integrity to federal policy making, but this is an important and exciting first step. We look forward to sharing many more victories with you.
Kurt Gottfried, Chair, Board of Directors
Kevin Knobloch, President
Union of Concerned Scientists
P.S. The full text of President Obama’s memorandum is available here (pdf) http://tinyurl.com/sciencememo .