Protecting the Integrity of Government Sciences – NCST Report
January 13, 2022
The White House Scientific Integrity Task Force (SI) released their report “Protecting the Integrity of Government Science” earlier this month. This report marks an important first step toward strengthening scientific integrity and evidence-based decision-making and establishes scientific integrity as a priority for the Biden administration.
The website also includes a summary of their listening sessions and the responses to last year’s RFI on the topic, issued by OSTP on June 28, 2021. OSTP received 159 relevant responses, 66 (42 percent) were submitted on behalf of organizations such as academic, research, and disciplinary consortia, including FABBS.
The SI Taskforce was established by the Presidential Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking issued in January 2021. The purpose of the taskforce was to conduct a thorough review of the effectiveness of Federal agency scientific-integrity policies, with the aim of ensuring a trustworthy science system to serve the public.
The report includes several provisions of particular interest to FABBS members.
- Inclusion of social sciences in term ‘Science’ – In the report, the terms ‘science’ and ‘scientific’ are defined as “the full spectrum of scientific endeavors, including basic science, applied science, evaluation science, engineering, technology, economics, social sciences and statistics…” The explicit inclusion of social science is significant for FABBS members. Across the federal government and over time, some definitions of science have either remained silent on the social sciences or actively excluded our disciplines.
- Open Science including Access – FABBS and many of our societies have been tracking issues of open access as new policies could be consequential to society revenue models. The report mentions that “open science is an essential enabler of scientific integrity.” However, it does not provide any new directives or directions for open access policy.
- Trust in and communication of science – In our comments, FABBS pointed to the body of behavioral and cognitive research to inform effective practices and the importance of increasing the scientific expertise in these disciplines across federal agencies.
FABBS will be monitoring as the OSTP takes the next steps to develop a framework and provide guidance to agencies about how to strengthen their scientific integrity policies. We will be looking for opportunities to connect our sciences to the goals of effective science communication and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout these efforts, an emerging theme in need of more details.