|For Immediate Release Hugh Vickery
May 30, 2003 202-501-4633
(WASHINGTON) -- Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton today announced the development
of a code of scientific conduct for the Interior Department - independently reviewed
and approved by a panel of leading scientists and ethicists - to help ensure the
integrity of all scientific work done by its employees and contractors.
"The scientific code of conduct will help ensure the American people that
the research and analysis we use has been conducted according to the highest standards
of the scientific community," Norton said.
The department developed the code in accordance with a new federal policy on conduct
of science published on December 6, 2000, by the White House Office of Science
and Technology Policy.
In addition, the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General recommended
the department develop a scientific code of conduct in its report on its investigation
of the submission of unauthorized samples to a laboratory during population surveys
for the Canada lynx in 1999 and 2000.
The code is being developed through a unique process involving both peer review
by an independent panel and employee involvement. The code will be a new addition
to the Department Manual, and this will be the first time employees have had a
chance to comment on a change to the manual.
"We want the new code of conduct to be fully embraced by Interior scientists
as an accurate statement of their ideals," Norton said. "We will fully
involve employees in active discussion to ensure this reflects their professional
In addition to the employee comment process, there will also be an opportunity
for public comment on a similar code being prepared for consultants and contractors
to the department. Their code will go through the ordinary administrative rulemaking
process. Dates for public comment will be announced later.
The code is similar to the codes of conduct of many scientific organizations,
including the Wildlife Society, American Fisheries Society, and Ecological Society
of America, to which many department scientists belong. All of the scientific
activities conducted or funded by the Department are covered by this definition.
These involve inventory, monitoring, study, research, adaptive management or assessments
that are conducted in a manner specified by standard protocols and procedures.
"It is vitally important that any organization that does as much scientific
research and analysis as the Interior Department have a well-founded code of scientific
conduct that governs the full range of scientific activities," said Dr. Deborah
Brosnan, president of the nonprofit Sustainable Ecosystems Institute and head
of the independent review panel. "Our panel felt that this was a strong code
that meets three key goals of building trust between science and the public, giving
guidance, and providing support for scientists."
The panel also included: Ann Bartuska, executive director of The Nature Conservancy's
Invasive Species Initiative and current president of the Ecological Society of
America; Baird Callicott, professor of environmental ethics at the University
of North Texas; Barry D. Gold, program officer for the David and Lucile Packard
Foundation; Carol Boggs, director of the Center for Conservation Biology; and
Jim Reichman, director of the National Center For Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.
Under the new federal policy, scientific misconduct includes both professional
misconduct and research misconduct. Research misconduct is defined as fabrication,
falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research,
or in reporting research results.
Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes,
or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately
represented in the research record.
Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results,
or words without giving appropriate credit.
Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.
Any allegations brought under the code will be handled in accordance with departmental
personnel policies and with the department's Handbook on Charges and Penalty
Selection for Disciplinary and Adverse Actions as a guide. The new federal policy
includes safeguards for subjects of allegations, including timeliness, objectivity
The Interior Department has established a website (http://www.doi.gov/ethics)
that contains the existing agency directives pertaining to policies and conduct.
The U.S. Office of Government Ethics also has a website (http://www.access.gpo.gov)
where it has published the Standards for Ethical Conduct of Employees of the
Here is the proposed code:
THE CODE OF SCIENTIFIC CONDUCT
To the best of my ability:
I will act in the interest of the advancement of science and contribute the
best, highest quality scientific information for the Department of the Interior.
I will conduct, manage, judge, report, and communicate scientific activities
and information honestly, thoroughly and without conflict of interest.
I will be responsible for the resources entrusted to me, including equipment,
employees' time, and funds. I will be accountable for the prompt and accurate
collection, use, and reporting of all financial resources and transactions under
I will disclose the research methods to the local communities, Indian tribes,
and other individuals whose interest and resource uses are studied; and respect
the confidential and proprietary information provided by those individuals to
the fullest extent permitted by law.
I will neither hinder the scientific and information gathering activities of
others nor engage in dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or other
scientific, research or professional misconduct.
I will welcome constructive criticism of my scientific activities and information,
participate in appropriate peer reviews, and critique others' work in a respectful
manner amid objective scientific review.
I will be diligent in the creation, use, preservation, and maintenance of collections
and data records; adhere to established quality assurance and quality control
programs; follow the records retention policies of the Department; and comply
with Federal law and established agreements related to the use, security, and
release of confidential and proprietary data.
I will know, understand and adhere to standards of public information dissemination
and the formal publication of scientific information and respect the intellectual
property rights of others.
I will be responsible in all scientific activities for both the collection
and interpretation of data I collect and the integrity of conclusions I present.
I will place quality and objectivity of scientific activities and information
ahead of personal gain or allegiance to individuals or organizations.