WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today issued a Secretarial Order establishing a policy to ensure the integrity of the science and scientific products used in the Department's decision-making and policy development.
“The American people must have confidence that the Department of the Interior is basing its decisions on the best available science and that the scientific process is free of misconduct or improper influence,” Salazar said. “This policy clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of all department employees, including career staff and political appointees, in upholding principles of scientific integrity and conduct.”
The new policy, which will be codified in the Departmental Manual to ensure compliance by all employees, clearly affirms that Interior employees, political and career, will never suppress scientific or technological findings or conclusions. Further, it ensures scientists will not be coerced to alter or censure scientific findings, and employees will be protected if they uncover and report scientific misconduct by career or political staff.
The new policy is consistent with the Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity, dated March, 9, 2009, and will conform with the expected 2010 guidance and recommendations of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The Department has been working on a policy on scientific integrity for a number of years. The Department put out a draft for public comment in 2010, and many commenters noted that it did not sufficiently address scientific conduct by political appointees or use of scientific information in decision-making. The policy directive issued by Secretary Salazar today clearly applies the same standards of conduct to both political appointees and career appointees and forbids the alteration of scientific findings in policy-making activities.
The policy covers all departmental employees when they engage in, supervise or manage scientific activities, analyze and/or publicly communicate information resulting from scientific activities, or use this information or analyses in making agency policy, management or regulatory decisions. It also covers all contractors, cooperators, partners, volunteers, and permitees who assist with scientific activities.
The secretarial order, whose implementation will be overseen by Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes, incorporates the following principles: