Salazar Announces New Scientific Integrity Policy and Designation of Departmental Science Integrity Officer

Last edited 09/29/2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the establishment of a new policy to ensure and maintain the integrity of scientific and scholarly activities used in Departmental decision making. The policy follows on the Memorandum to the Heads of Departments and Agencies on Scientific Integrity issued in December and includes the designation of a Departmental Science Integrity Officer.

“Because robust, high quality science and scholarship play such an important role in advancing the Department's mission, it is vital that we have a strong and clear scientific integrity policy,” said Secretary Salazar. “This policy sets forth clear expectations for all employees - political and career - to uphold the principles of scientific integrity, and establishes a process for impartial review of alleged breaches of those principles.”

As part of the implementation of the new policy, Secretary Salazar announced the appointment of Dr. Ralph Morgenweck, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Senior Science Advisor, to serve as the Department's first Scientific Integrity Officer.

“Dr. Morgenweck brings years of experience in key science management positions to this post and I am confident that he will provide outstanding leadership for this important endeavor,” said Secretary Salazar.

Prior to Dr. Morgenweck's role as a Senior Science Advisor, he served as director of a wildlife research center and Assistant Director for the Fish and Wildlife Service and Regional Director, Mountain-Prairie Region. In his new role as Departmental Science Integrity Office, Dr. Morgenweck will coordinate implementation of the new policy across Interior's bureaus and offices.

The new policy, which will continue to be updated as necessary, is based on the principles found in Secretarial Order 3305 and guided by the Office of Science and Technology Policy memo, issued in December of 2010. The policy applies to all Departmental employees when they engage in, supervise or manage scientific or scholarly activities; analyze and/or publicly communicate scientific or scholarly information; or use this information or analyses to make policy, management or regulatory decisions. Additionally, the policy includes provisions for contractors, partners, grantees, leasees, volunteers and others, who conduct these activities on behalf of the Department.

Under this new policy, the Department will:

  • Use clear and unambiguous codes of conduct for scientific and scholarly activities to define expectations for those covered by this policy.
  • Facilitate the free flow of scientific and scholarly information, consistent with privacy and classification standards, and in keeping with the Department's Open Government Plan.
  • Document the scientific and scholarly findings considered in decision making and ensure public access to that information and supporting data through established Departmental and Bureau procedures—except for information and data that are restricted from disclosure under procedures established in accordance with statute, regulation, Executive Order, or Presidential Memorandum.
  • Ensure that the selection and retention of employees in scientific and scholarly positions or in positions that rely on the results of scientific and scholarly activities are based on the candidate's integrity, knowledge, credentials, and experience relevant to the responsibility of the position.
  • Ensure that public communications policies provide procedures by which scientists and scholars may speak to the media and the public about scientific and scholarly matters based on their official work and areas of expertise. In no circumstance may public affairs officers ask or direct Federal scientists to alter scientific findings.
  • Provide information to employees on whistleblower protections.
  • Communicate this policy and all related responsibilities to contractors, cooperators, partners, permittees, leasees, grantees, and volunteers who assist with developing or applying the results of scientific and scholarly activities on behalf of the Department, as appropriate.
  • Encourage the enhancement of scientific and scholarly integrity through appropriate, cooperative engagement with the communities of practice represented by professional societies and organizations.
  • Examine, track, and resolve all reasonable allegations of scientific and scholarly misconduct while ensuring the rights and privacy of those covered by this policy and ensuring that unwarranted allegations do not result in slander, libel, or other damage to them.
  • Facilitate the sharing of best administrative and management practices that promote the integrity of the Department's scientific and scholarly activities.

Click here to view the text of the policy.


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