The Biden administration’s scientific integrity task force drafted a report released Tuesday instructing federal agencies on how to ensure science is not influenced or interfered with, including by political actors.
The report, titled “Protecting the Integrity of Government Science” and drafted by the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s (OSTP) Scientific Integrity Task Force, is intended to assess federal agencies’ commitment to scientific integrity and provide guidelines for agencies going forward. The report examined instances of perceived political interference in scientific policy.
“Although violations of scientific integrity are small in number compared to the magnitude of the Federal Government’s scientific enterprise, they can have an outsized, detrimental impact on decision-making and public trust in science,” the report said. “As illustrated by high-profile cases, political intrusion into the conduct, management, communication, and use (or misuse) of science has a severe impact on public trust in Federal science.”
The task force cited two instances in which it believed former President Donald Trump interfered with federal agencies’ scientific integrity, the Trump administration’s efforts to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census and Trump’s forecasting during Hurricane Dorian.
The report sought to examine the impact of perceived violations of scientific integrity on policymaking and how best to prevent such violations in the future.
“It’s the first comprehensive assessment that we’ve had across the entire federal government of what needs to be done to ensure scientific integrity in our government,” Dr. Jane Lubchenco, OSTP deputy director for Climate and Environment, told CNN. “We’ve seen that when we don’t have good policies in place, and when they aren’t enforced, that bad information can get out, and that undermines public trust in government.”
The task force also offered agencies guidelines on how to address scientific integrity policy violations and how to enforce scientific integrity rules.