Guidance document calls on agencies to draft pro tective scientific-integrity policies for White House review within two months.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has unveiled its plan to protect government science from political interference. Guidance released by the White House on 12 January lays out the standards for policies that federal agencies have been asked to develop in the coming months.
We recognise that we are politically biased and that not everyone will see things the same way. But populist leaders, like US former president Donal Trump, can do serious harm to scientific infrastructure, the role of scientific reasoning in decision making and the standing of science in public administration. This move by the Biden administration is extremely welcome and positive.
Arriving at the beginning of Biden’s third year in the White House, the document was crafted partly in response to the downplaying of science and sidelining of scientists at multiple federal agencies during the administration of former president Donald Trump. It also arrives in the wake of controversy in Biden’s own administration. Eric Lander, the president’s former science adviser and OSTP director, stepped down in February 2022 following media reports that he mistreated staff. And in August last year, the US National Academy of Sciences penalized Jane Lubchenco, the OSTP’s deputy director for climate and the environment, for violating conflict-of-interest rules by editing a paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that was co-authored by a former student, who is now her brother-in-law.