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President orders scientific integrity strategy

March - April, 2009 | Volume 8, Issue 2

President Obama's recent decision to lift most federal restrictions on stem cell research was accompanied by a statement of his views on the link between science and public policy.

He said federal agencies will "appoint scientific advisers based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology."

In addition, he ordered the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Dr. John Holdren, to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making.

That strategy would require, among other things, that:

  • Agencies make available to the public the scientific or technological findings or conclusions considered or relied upon in policy decision.
  • Agencies use scientific and technological information that has been subject to well-established scientific processes such as peer review.
  • Agencies have appropriate rules and procedures to ensure the integrity of the scientific process within the agency, including whistleblower protection.

In signing the executive order on stem cell research, Obama said, "By doing this, we will ensure America's continued global leadership in scientific discoveries…

"Let's be clear: promoting science isn't just about providing resources—it is also about protecting free and open inquiry.

"It is about letting scientists…do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion…

"It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda—and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology."

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