Administration Fumbling Toward Scientific Integrity

The Obama administration's efforts to protect scientific integrity moved forward recently with the submission of five finalized agency policies and 14 draft policies, but progress has been slow and haphazard. The administration recognizes that sound, uncensored science is critically important to protecting public health and the environment. The administration also understands that agencies should foster a culture of scientific integrity that includes effective policies and oversight to protect science from political manipulation and research misconduct. However, it has yet to undo the damage wrought by the previous administration.

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More Action Is Needed to Improve Recovery Act Data Quality

The Recovery Act may be a great step forward for spending transparency, but it is also exposing the problems of obtaining quality recipient reporting. Two new government reports show that recent revisions and additions to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) rules on recipient reporting are not necessarily "magic bullets" for addressing reporting errors. The reports also make clear that ensuring that recipients have a clear understanding of existing guidance is a crucial aspect of any data quality improvement effort.

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Scientists Recommend Ways to Restore Scientific Integrity to Government

On March 3, the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (SKAPP) released the results of a two-year research effort to explore the working environment of federal scientists in the public health and environmental fields. The results showed that not only is there political interference in their work, but that scientists also faced a series of obstacles that delay the study and dissemination of scientific information that affects the public every day.

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OSHA Misses Injuries and Illnesses, GAO Says

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cannot adequately verify lost-time injury and illness cases reported by employers, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Although injury and illness rates for workers have been declining in recent years, critics say the improvement has more to do with OSHA data collection procedures than occupational safety and health policy.

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New White House Guidelines Fit into Broad Attack on Federal Protections

The White House has issued new guidelines for federal agencies in conducting risk analysis. Risk analysis, of which risk assessment is a central factor, is a process by which agencies identify and evaluate risks such as toxic exposure or structural failure. Risk analysis often lays the scientific or technical foundation for public health and safety rulemakings.

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OMB Risk Analysis Memorandum Continues Bush Administration Policy of Less Regulation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2007—The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) today released a risk analysis memorandum, "Updated Principles for Risk Analysis," outlining principles that federal agencies must follow for risk assessment, management and communication. The memorandum reiterates a policy that has been in place since 1995. But that policy, taken in the context of other regulatory changes made by the Bush administration, continues a policy of less regulation even as the public demands more protections of our food, consumer products, environment and workplace.

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OMB Watch Releases 'An Attack on Cancer Research'

OMB Watch released a report in late August that further documents industry's attempt to restrict access to health and safety information produced by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). The report comes just as Congress is investigating allegations of mismanagement, industry influence, and suppression of whistleblowers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the NTP.

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Industry Challenges Impede Cancer Research and Information, New Report Says

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2007—Allegations of mismanagement, industry influence, and suppression of whistleblowers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) are being investigated by Congress, and the director has temporarily stepped down. Today, OMB Watch released a report that further documents industry's attempt to restrict access to health and safety information produced by NTP.

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OIRA Issues New Standards for Disseminating Statistical Information

Citing various sources of authority, including the Information Quality Act, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management and Budget published a new draft Statistical Policy Directive on Aug. 1, focusing on disclosure standards. OIRA uses Statistical Policy Directives to establish government-wide standards for statistical activities conducted by agencies.

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EPA Holds off Industry Attack on Health, Safety and Environmental Data

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rejected the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Data Quality Act (DQA) challenge and appeal of supposed inconsistencies across several EPA databases. While agreeing to make a few changes, the agency refused the Chamber's demands that all variations between the EPA databases on chemicals be eliminated, stating that they were not errors but acceptable differences based on different scientific models.

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