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AIBS Comments on NSF and EPA Draft Scientific Integrity Policies

September 6, 2011

 

On 6 September, AIBS wrote to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about their draft scientific integrity policies. The letters highlight areas of support for the draft policies, as well as offers recommendations to further improve the policies.

NSF

NSF's draft policy focuses heavily on the actions that it has already taken, such as its investigator conflict-of-interest policy and its information sharing via the Open Government Initiative. The draft policy also outlines a new policy on how NSF will handle media inquires.

The letter from AIBS urges the agency to make the policy applicable to all NSF employees, appointees, and contractors who engage in, supervise, or manage scientific activities; analyze or communicate scientific information; or use such information to make decisions. "Universal coverage is essential to ensuring that the policy is effective," states the letter.

The letter also encourages NSF to add codes of scientific conduct and ethics for employees and managers, as other agencies have done. Additionally, AIBS strongly encouraged NSF to revise their policy to allow employees to freely join scientific and professional societies.

To read the comments submitted by AIBS to NSF, visit http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20110906nsfintegrity.html.

For more information about NSF's draft scientific integrity policy, visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-04/html/2011-19701.htm.

EPA

EPA's draft policy addresses the promotion of scientific ethical standards, communications with the public, the use of advisory committees and peer review, and professional development.

"Science is the backbone of EPA's decision-making," states the draft policy. "The ability to pursue the Agency's mission to protect human health and the environment depends upon the integrity of the science on which we rely.... When dealing with science, it is the responsibility of every EPA employee to conduct, utilize, and communicate science with the highest degree of honesty, integrity, and transparency, both within and outside the Agency."

The letter to EPA praises the agency for applying the policy to all EPA employees and appointees who engage in, supervise, or manage scientific activities; analyze or communicate scientific information; or use such information to make decisions is commendable. EPA was encouraged to further extend the policy to contractors. EPA was also encouraged to include codes of scientific conduct and ethics for scientists, and managers and supervisors, as other federal agencies have included in their scientific integrity policies.

EPA was commended for supporting the participation of agency scientists in the leadership of professional and scientific societies, the publication of results in peer-reviewed journals, the presentation of research at scientific meetings, and active participation in professional societies.

The creation of an agency-wide committee and the designation of a senior official to oversee the implementation of EPA's scientific integrity policy were also commended.

To read the comments submitted by AIBS to EPA, visit http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20110906epaintegrity.html.

For more information about EPA's draft scientific integrity policy, visit http://www.epa.gov/osa/.

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