Federal Scientific Integrity Policies: A Primer

U.S. Congressional Research Service. 
Federal Scientific Integrity Policies: A Primer, R46614, November 20, 2020
Gallo, Marcy E., Analyst in Science and Technology Policy
Retrieved from: CRS, Library of Congress, November 25, 2020

This report serves as a useful signpost in indicating where United States government agencies currently stand with regard to establishing and implementing scientific integrity policies. 

The report summary notes that various policymakers as well as those working in the mainstream media have alleged violations of the principles of scientific integrity. Scientists have been harassed for inconvenient findings. Political appointees have not been properly vetted for any potential conflicts of interest. Scientific documents may have been improperly edited and the Federal budget process has been used to impede formulation of science-based policies. 

There is no uniform definition of scientific integrity being applied across all federal agencies. According to the report, “Some experts have expressed concern over the variation in scope and specificity of federal agency scientific integrity policies and recommeded that Congress enact scientific integrity legislation that would create a clear set of standards and mechanisms for enforcement.” 

This report offers “an overview of scientific integrity and discusses selected issues for congressional consideration”. The report provides:

  • A timeline indicating a rise in concern across recent administrations
  • A brief summary of the steps taken by those administrations to correct the situation
  • A list of areas where improvements might be maded
  • A brief summation of existing legislation introduced in during the 116th Congress.

 It offers “a potential framework for Congress to address gaps and align scientific integrity policies across federal agencies.” 

Among other supporting documents, the well-documented report makes reference to the following useful materials: 

  1. Executive Office of the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Enhancing the Security and Integrity of America’s Research Enterprise, October 15, 2020.
  2. Joint Committee on the Research Environment, Summary of the 2019 White House Summit of the Joint Committee on the Research Environment, National Science and Technology Council, November 2019.
  3. U.S. Government Accountability Office, Scientific Integrity Policies: Additional Actions Could Strengthen Integrity of Federal Research, GAO-19-265, April 4, 2019.

The full text of the report is available here