Scientific Integrity Policies Moving Forward, But Still Little Sunlight
by Gavin Baker, 8/11/2011
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced in a blog post today that nearly all the agencies participating in the development of scientific integrity policies had submitted draft policies to OSTP. The deadline for agencies to do so was last week. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are behind schedule but are expected to submit their policies soon.
The progress toward implementing President Obama's scientific integrity memo is promising. Unfortunately, the implementation process continues to be haphazard. OSTP still hasn't set a deadline for agencies to finalize their policies, directed agencies to solicit public comment on their policies, or even to publish their final policies.
In fact, the most surprising part of today's announcement is that five agencies have already finalized their policies! The Interior Department had already finalized its policy late last year, after soliciting public comment. But the other four agencies – the Departments of Commerce and Justice, as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Intelligence Community – do not appear to have done public consultation in developing their policies. While Commerce and NASA have posted their final policies online, it's unclear if Justice and the Intelligence Community have taken even that most basic step toward transparency.
Thankfully, a few other agencies are taking the wiser approach of being more open. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have published their draft policies for public comment. The other agencies should do so as well, with the goal of finalizing their policies later this year.