All but three federal agencies met last week’s deadline for submitting draft or final policies on scientific integrity to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). According to OSTP, the draft policies for the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development are in clearance and will be submitted soon. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is still developing its policy.

Five agencies and departments, including the Departments of Commerce, Interior, and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the intelligence community, have finalized their policies. Thirteen other agencies have completed draft policies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Energy, and Health and Human Services.

NSF’s draft policy was released for public comment last week (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-04/html/2011-19701.htm). It is a notable departure from other agencies’ policies. Instead of outlining principles of scientific integrity and a code of ethics for employees, NSF 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. Public comments are being accepted on the draft policy through 6 September 2011.

NOAA’s draft scientific integrity policy outlines goals of facilitating the free flow of scientific information; documenting the scientific knowledge considered in decision making and where feasible using information that has been independently peer reviewed; basing hiring decisions for scientific positions on the candidate’s integrity, experience, and credentials; and examining, tracking, and resolving allegations of scientific misconduct. The policy includes codes of conduct for scientists and for supervisors and managers. NOAA is accepting public comments on the draft policy through 20 August 2011. For more information, visit http://www.noaa.gov/scientificintegrity.

The public comment period for EPA’s draft policy will remain open until 6 September 2011. For more information, visit http://www.epa.gov/osa/.

Agencies and departments are developing and implementing scientific integrity policies at the direction of President Obama, who in 2009 ordered his Administration to restore scientific integrity to government decision-making. The process should have been completed long ago, but OSTP overshot its deadline for releasing guidance to agencies by 17 months.

 


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