On behalf of the interagency Scientific Integrity Task Force created through presidential memorandum, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) requests information to help improve the effectiveness of Federal scientific integrity policies to enhance public trust in science.
OSTP press release (June 25) https://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/news-updates/2021/06/25/the-biden-administrations-scientific-integrity-task-force-seeks-ideas-from-the-american-people/
FR request for information (June 28) https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/06/28/2021-13640/request-for-information-to-improve-federal-scientific-integrity-policies
The January 27, 2021 Presidential Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking (Memorandum) directs OSTP to convene an interagency task force under the National Science and Technology Council to review the effectiveness of policies developed since the issuance of the Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity issued on March 9, 2009 in preventing improper political interference in the conduct of scientific research and the collection of data; preventing the suppression or distortion of findings, data, information, conclusions, or technical results; supporting scientists and researchers of all genders, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds; and advancing the equitable delivery of the Federal Government's programs.
Established in May, the nearly 50-member Scientific Integrity Task Force, representing agencies from across the Federal government, regularly convenes to respond to President Biden’s January memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking. (A list of Task Force members is provided in the OSTP press release.) During its most recent meetings, the Task Force established working groups to examine instances in which scientific integrity policies were not followed or enforced and identify effective practices for ensuring integrity in emerging areas of scientific and technological research and analysis, improving training in scientific integrity, bolstering research transparency, and protecting science communication.
In addition, given the importance of scientific integrity as a foundation for trust in government, the Task Force formed a working group to coordinate external engagement—to gather feedback from a range of stakeholders, including the American public, through a range of interactions and channels for input, including upcoming listening sessions and the RFI announced today. On behalf of the Task Force, then, OSTP seeks information about: (1) The effectiveness of Federal scientific integrity policies and needed areas of improvement; (2) good practices Federal agencies could adopt to improve scientific integrity, including in the communication of scientific information, addressing emerging technologies and evolving scientific practices, supporting professional development of Federal scientists, and promoting transparency in the implementation of agency scientific integrity policies; and (3) other topics or concerns that Federal scientific integrity policies should address.
Information Requested: Respondents may provide information for one or as many topics below as they choose. Input is welcome from stakeholders, including members of the public, representing all backgrounds and perspectives. Through this RFI, the SI-FTAC seeks information on the current state of scientific integrity processes and practices and the effect of these on trust in Federal science, including on the following topics:
1. The effectiveness of Federal scientific integrity policies in promoting trust in Federal science:
Information about the strengths and weaknesses of Federal scientific integrity policies, including where additional efforts are needed to meet the broad ambition to establish trust in Federal science by protecting against: Political or other improper interference in the conduct of scientific research, the Start Printed Page 34066collection of scientific or technological data, and the utilization of science in decision-making; suppression or distortion of scientific or technological findings, data, information, conclusions, or technical results; disproportionate harm to Federal scientists and researchers from groups that are historically underrepresented in science, technology, and related fields; or equitable delivery of the Federal Government's programs. Of interest is information about how perceived shortfalls in scientific integrity affect public trust in science and about mechanisms Federal agencies could use to detect or deter potential violations of scientific integrity policies before they occur. [Please note: We do not seek reports on alleged offenses that are in violation of Federal scientific integrity policies; we ask that you not provide names of individuals who have been or may be accused of engaging in or subjected to such practices, personally identifiable or sensitive information, or specific allegations that should be handled through other appropriate channels, such as law enforcement, Scientific Integrity Officers, or an Office of Inspector General].
2. Effective policies and practices Federal agencies could adopt to improve the communication of scientific and technological information:
Consider practices related but not limited to: Engagement of Federal scientists and contractors working on scientific matters with news media and on social media; protection of scientific independence during clearance and review processes; avoidance of political or other improper interference in research or data collection; differentiation in official government communications of references to scientific publications and peer-reviewed research versus science-based or science-informed policy statements and determinations.
3. Effective policies and practices Federal agencies could adopt to address scientific issues and the scientific workforce:
Consider practices related but not limited to: Handling scientific disagreements about research methods and conclusions; addressing gaps in current scientific integrity policies related to emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine-learning, and evolving scientific practices, such as citizen science and community-engaged research; supporting the professional development of Federal scientists; supporting scientists and researchers of all genders, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds and advance the equitable delivery of the Federal Government's programs; and Ensuring the independence, autonomy, and effectiveness of scientific integrity officials and chief science officers.
4. Effective practices Federal agencies could adopt to improve training of scientific staff about scientific integrity and the transparency into their scientific integrity practices:
Consider practices related but not limited to: Educating and informing employees, contractors, and grantees in scientific and technical positions, as well as those who manage, communicate, or make decisions based on science and technology, of their rights and responsibilities related to agency scientific integrity policies; reporting practices that promote transparency in the implementation of agency scientific integrity policies and in the handling of any allegations of misconduct; communicating to the public about alleged lapses in scientific integrity, substantiated violations of scientific integrity policies, and remedial actions taken; and minimizing conflicts of interest in Federal science and research misconduct.
5. Other important aspects of scientific integrity and effective approaches to improving trust in Federal science:
Consider other elements that should be included and addressed in the scientific integrity policies of Federal agencies, beyond those specified in the 2009 Presidential Memorandum, 2010 OSTP Memorandum, and 2021 Presidential Memorandum. Consider also effective practices, in addition to those specified above, that Federal agencies could put in place to improve scientific integrity and public trust in Federal science, including for proactively promoting rigorous, objective scientific research and streamlining implementation within and across Federal departments and agencies.