Secretary Nominee Tom Daschle Pledges to Restore Scientific Integrity at Health and Human Services

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Lisa Nurnberger, 202-331-6959

Secretary Nominee Tom Daschle Pledges to Restore Scientific Integrity at Health and Human Services

Statement by Francesca Grifo, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON - At his nomination hearing this morning, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary nominee Tom Daschle testified he would restore scientific integrity to the department.

Responding to questions by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, (D-Md.) about political interference in science at federal agencies, Daschle said: "I want to take ideology and
politics as much as possible out of the process and leave the
scientists to do their job. It is very important for us to allow
scientists to be scientists and to give them the resources to do it
right. It starts with the importance of giving them the autonomy they
need without fear of conflict at some point with others along the
decisionmaking process regarding factors having nothing to do with
science. I think it starts by empowering our scientists to do the great
work that we know they can do."

Below is a statement by Francesca Grifo, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Scientific Integrity Program:

"Federal
employees will be looking to Senator Daschle and agency leaders to turn
a culture of fear into a culture of support. We are encouraged that
Senator Daschle recognizes that politics have prevented government
scientists from doing their jobs. And while we are optimistic about his
commitment to giving scientists the autonomy they need, it will take a
persistent and focused effort to undo the damage that has been done to
our federal scientific agencies.

"Once
confirmed, there are several quick and easy steps Senator Daschle
should take right off the bat. He should instruct agency heads to
inform the public about how science-based policy decisions are made. He
should strengthen HHS
media policies to ensure agency scientists can tell us what they know
without fear of retribution. He also should assure his employees that
the administration will protect whistleblowers when they reveal that
science has been abused.

"Health
and Human Services is just one of a number of federal departments that
have been compromised by political appointees suppressing and
manipulating science. It is time for all science-based government
agencies to open up to restore the public's faith in their ability to
protect public health and the environment."

For UCS's survey of FDA scientists, go to: www.ucsusa.org/surveys.

For UCS's recommendations to the presidential transition team, go to: www.ucsusa.org/federalscience.

For UCS's analysis of federal agency media policies, go to: www.ucsusa.org/mediapolicies.

 

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The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.

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