Kasey White, Director for Geoscience Policy

Through the Scientific Integrity Framework Interagency Working Group of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), the White House released “A Framework for Federal Scientific Integrity Policy and Practice” in January 2023. The framework provides resources for agencies to develop and improve scientific integrity policies, practices, and culture. It builds upon earlier efforts to codify practices to ensure scientific integrity in the federal government, beginning with the 2009 Presidential Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on Scientific Integrity.

The framework provides the first-ever government-wide definition of scientific integrity for agencies to incorporate into their plans:

“Scientific integrity is the adherence to professional practices, ethical behavior, and the principles of honesty and objectivity when conducting, managing, using the results of, and communicating about science and scientific activities. Inclusivity, transparency, and protection from inappropriate influence are hallmarks of scientific integrity.”

The framework includes a roadmap of activities and outcomes for federal agency scientific integrity policy and practice implementation. Tools to measure progress and evaluate the implementation and outcomes are also included. A model policy is provided that agencies can adapt. Alternatively, agencies can encompass the intent of “critical policy features” in their policies. The model policy highlights seven key areas:

  • Protecting Scientific Processes
  • Ensuring the Free Flow of Scientific Information
  • Supporting Decision Making Processes
  • Ensuring Accountability
  • Protecting Scientists
  • Professional Development for Government Scientists
  • Federal Advisory Committees

The framework establishes an ongoing process of “making iterative improvements over time” as it help agencies “adapt, refine, and implement scientific integrity policies toward restoring trust in federal science and ensuring unencumbered science informs decision-making across the federal government.” To facilitate this ongoing practice, a Subcommittee on Scientific Integrity composed of agency Scientific Integrity Officers (SIOs) has been created and is charged with carrying out interagency functions related to scientific integrity.