As People For the American Way’s Progressive Happy Hour podcast reported in April, one hallmark of the Trump administration has been its aggressive attacks on science-based policies and research—devaluing science and adversely shaping many facets of American life. To combat this disturbing trend, PFAW and allied organizations are supporting the Scientific Integrity Act, which requires government agencies involved in scientific research to develop strong scientific integrity policies that include enforcement mechanisms. You can download our letter here. Scientific integrity will be the subject of a House hearing on July 17.
Dear U.S. Senators and Representatives,
As organizations working to promote and protect science for the public good, we urge you to cosponsor and champion the Scientific Integrity Act, which would safeguard the rights of scientists working at federal agencies and ensure the public can benefit from their work. We support requiring agencies that fund, conduct, or oversee scientific research to develop strong scientific integrity policies that include enforcement mechanisms.
Our various organizations work to advance science, public health, the environment, civil rights, reproductive health, worker safety, government oversight, and whistleblower protections. All of us depend on high quality federal scientific research and the hard work of federal scientists to protect our health, safety, economy and environment. Unfortunately, as the report Protecting Science at Federal Agencies: How Congress Can Help describes, over the past two years, we have seen the impact of federal policies and political appointees that suppress, mischaracterize, and ignore evidence on topics from contraception to climate change.
S. 775/H.R. 1709, the Scientific Integrity Act of 2019 contains provisions that would address many of these attacks on science. It would prohibit political appointees from altering or suppressing scientific findings and give scientists final review over how agencies portray their research. It also would ensure that federal agencies designate scientific integrity officers and provide federal employees with ethics training to help prevent misconduct.
Another important component of the Scientific Integrity Act is its codification of scientists’ right to disseminate their work without interference. It would enable scientists to talk about their research—with reporters, in scientific journals, and at scientific conferences as well as directly with members of the public. Such communication is essential both for public understanding and for federal scientists’ ability to share their insights for better oversight and accountability of agency decisions.
Our nation relies on scientific integrity to maintain the role of best available science in policymaking. This research is critical to improving air and water quality, protecting workers, safeguarding public health and safety, advancing reproductive health, defending civil rights, preserving biodiversity, and responding to threats posed by diseases and extreme weather events. We urge you to sign on as cosponsors of S. 775 or H.R. 1709 to take this important step toward ensuring that our government uses science and evidence to best protect our public health and wellbeing.