February 1, 2011

New policy is model for other agencies, organizations

Today, the Department of the Interior (DOI) issued a comprehensive policy that will promote and protect scientific and scholarly integrity within the department. The policy, issued as a chapter in the Departmental Manual, provides essential details and procedures for the DOI-wide implementation of a September 2010 directive from Secretary Salazar. The policy also responds to White House directives requiring federal departments and agencies to establish scientific integrity policies.

"The DOI policy released today is impressive and thorough. This policy goes a long way toward providing a model for other agencies and non-governmental organizations" said American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) President Dr. James P. Collins. "I commend Secretary Salazar and everyone at Interior who worked on developing the department's position in these important areas. It is an impressive accomplishment to develop a policy that meets the needs of departmental scientists and is compatible with the DOI's diverse mission areas," Collins said.

The DOI scientific and scholarly integrity policy includes a number of provisions AIBS and other scientific organizations recommended in response to a draft policy issued for comment last year.

"The department has considered and incorporated recommendations made by external scientific organizations," said Dr. Robert Gropp, AIBS Director of Public Policy. "It is great to see that Interior has taken the White House directives on scientific integrity seriously. We are pleased to see that the policy now applies to all employees, including political appointees and public affairs officials. This policy should help to foster public trust in departmental decisions and officials."

"Scientific societies and professional organizations should be pleased with this policy," stated Collins. Importantly, the new policy sets forth specific and clear guidance for how departmental scientists may serve their professional communities through service on boards and advisory committees. "DOI now has a clear procedure to guide how and when federal scientists may serve their scientific communities. This is good for the department, for science, and for the public. Federal scientists are often leaders in their fields. Science benefits when they are able to fully participate in their professional communities," stated Collins.

In the coming months, AIBS will work with its members and the department to ensure that scientists are aware of this new policy. According to Executive Director Dr. Richard O'Grady, "AIBS is considering hosting a roundtable discussion on scientific integrity this May. We want to facilitate a discussion of this policy. Integrity is so important to ensuring public trust in organizations, whether governmental or non-governmental, that we want to explore how scientific and scholarly integrity policy can be developed in other organizations and agencies."

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AIBS comments on the draft DOI scientific integrity policy are available online at http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/.

The DOI Scientific and Scholarly Integrity policy is available at http://elips.doi.gov/app_dm/act_getfiles.cfm?relnum=3889/.

Read more AIBS Position Statements

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