White House OSTP Releases Report from Scientific Integrity Task Force

January 2022

On January 11, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released Protecting the Integrity of Government Science, a report of the OSTP Scientific Integrity Fast-Track Action Committee. The report addresses issues of scientific integrity in government agencies included in the January 2021 Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking, which also was released by the White House.

The report provides an overview of the current scientific integrity landscape as well as highlighting good practices for safeguarding scientific integrity and ways to communicate scientific information with integrity. The task force also makes clear the need for scientific integrity policies to apply not just to federal scientists, but also to federal employees who communicate or use science.

The report includes recommendations for federal agencies to follow for protecting the integrity of the research process, including avoiding interference in research and data collection, handling scientific disagreements, minimizing conflicts of interest, and supporting the professional development of federal scientists. The task force also called attention to best practices for enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

The task force highlighted several areas for institutionalizing scientific integrity across the federal government. These actions include ensuring independence of chief science officers and scientific integrity officers, improving coordination of agency functions, advancing related policy development such as open science practices, and promoting interagency communication and coordination.

The next steps for the task force will be to develop a framework to assess and improve scientific integrity activities and to continue community engagement to ensure that the most vulnerable and historically underserved populations are included in fostering equitable scientific integrity processes.

“We are very pleased that OSTP and the Scientific Integrity Task Force issued these recommendations to strengthen transparency and further build trust in federal scientific work,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “We look forward to working with OSTP and federal agencies in collective efforts to ensure that federal research and statistical activities are conducted, communicated, and used with the highest standards of scientific integrity.”

The task force is led by Eric Lander, OSTP director and science advisor to President Biden. Anne Riciutti, deputy director for science at the Institute of Education Sciences, serves as one of the four co-chairs. In June 2021, the task force issued a Request for Information to gather public input into promoting trust in science, communicating scientific work, addressing scientific issues and the scientific workforce, and improving training on scientific integrity. (Alondra Nelson, OSTP deputy director for science and society, and Jane Lubchenco, OSTP deputy director for climate and environment wrote a related piece for Science on January 11.) AERA provided comments highlighting issues for the task force to consider in its future work.