On 6 September 2011, AIBS commented on draft scientific integrity plans for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The comments highlight areas of support for the draft policies, as well as offer recommendations to further improve the policies.

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 plan also outlines a new policy for how NSF will handle media inquires.

AIBS urged NSF to make the policy applicable to all 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 AIBS letter.

Another AIBS recommendation for NSF is the inclusion of codes of scientific conduct and ethics for employees and managers; something other agencies have added to scientific integrity policies. Additionally, AIBS strongly encouraged NSF to revise its policy to allow employees to freely join and participate in scientific and professional societies.

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.”

AIBS commended EPA for applying its policy to all employees and appointees who engage in, supervise, or manage scientific activities; analyze or communicate scientific information; or use such information to make decisions. EPA was encouraged to further extend this policy to contractors. EPA was also urged to include codes of scientific conduct and ethics for scientists, managers, and supervisors.

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 NSF, 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.

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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