In a remarkable letter, NASA's chief scientist Paul Hertz and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Jane Lubchenco have urged scientists at their agencies to comment on the scientific integrity plan the president's science adviser John Holdren is putting together. The plan aims to prevent the sort of political interference in science that took place in the Bush years. The full letter reads:
To all NASA Scientists:
On March 9, President Obama made a commitment to scientific integrity in the federal science and technical departments and agencies. He said, "The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions."
The President has assigned Dr. Holdren, his science adviser and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), to recommend a plan that achieves the goal of scientific integrity within the Executive Branch. OSTP is seeking public input to inform the drafting of this plan and its recommendations.
NASA has high standards for scientific integrity, and I am committed to seeing that NASA meets those high standards. I encourage all NASA scientists to provide input to the OSTP regarding scientific integrity. The thoughts and ideas of NASA scientists on how the Executive Branch (including NASA) can better achieve the President's goals will provide valuable input for OSTP.
You may provide your input directly to OSTP via email or through their online blog. The call for public input, links to provide input, and the President's March 9 memo may all be found at http://blog.ostp.gov/2009/04/22/presidential-memo-on-scientific-integrity-request-for-comment/. The deadline for public input is May 13, 2009.
Chief Scientist, Science Mission Directorate
Scientific interference under Bush
Former President Bush was notorious for scientific interference. The most egregious example was the censoring of Dr. James Hansen, of NASA, whose dire warnings on climate change were redacted in government findings. The Center for Disease Control was similarly censored and interfered with.