President-Elect Obama Must Appoint Officials Who Will Restore Scientific Integrity to Government, Says National Science Group

For Immediate Release

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
Contact: 

Lisa Nurnberger, 202-331-6959

President-Elect Obama Must Appoint Officials Who Will Restore Scientific Integrity to Government, Says National Science Group

Statement by Francesca Grifo, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to insulate science from politics to ensure
the federal government protects public health and safety. To make good
on that promise, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today listed
the criteria his administration should use when selecting appointments
for science-oriented federal agencies.

Below is a statement by Francesca Grifo, director of the UCS Scientific Integrity Program:

"The
new head of any science agency must be committed to fundamental change
in the agency's conduct and communication of science. President-elect
Obama should choose agency leaders who will make five commitments to
reform.

"First,
a nominee should be willing to send a clear signal that he or she will
protect scientists who blow the whistle when science is manipulated,
suppressed or distorted. Scientists must be free to share their
findings and disclose any misuse of their work without fear of
reprisal. UCS surveys of scientists at 12 agencies over the past three
years found 1,413 respondents who feared retaliation for expressing concerns about their agency's work.

"Second,
the nominee should commit to a culture of openness rather than a
culture of secrecy-and have a track record to back it up. All
government information should be presumed to be public knowledge.
Agencies should withhold it only for national security or proprietary
reasons.

"Third,
the nominee must value science as a key ingredient in policy decisions.
While many factors go into a policy decision, science
always should be considered.

"Fourth, nominees should pledge to fully explain how
the agency arrives at regulatory and other decisions, including all
scientific information considered in making decisions. They also should
commit to disclosing meetings with special interests. The current administration continues to make policies behind closed doors, eroding public trust in government. 

"Finally,
the nominee should express how he or she plans to support and value the
expertise and advice of staff scientists and scientific advisory
committees. We have documented significant hostility between agencies
and their advisory committees over the last several years. These
relationships should be complementary, not adversarial.

"As
it evaluates potential nominees, Congress should make clear that it
expects nominees to create conditions conducive to a thriving
scientific enterprise at their agencies and stand up to the White House
if pressured to compromise scientific integrity. After they
are confirmed, new agency heads should report back to Congress the
steps they have taken
to ensure that science is considered when making policy decisions."

For UCS surveys of federal scientists, go to www.ucsusa.org/surveys.

For the UCS Scientific Integrity Program's recommendations for the next administration, go to: www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/solutions/big_picture_solutions/.

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The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org.

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