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Statement from the National Task Force on Rule of Law & Democracy in Support of the Scientific Integrity Act

The Task Force urges the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass H.R. 1709/S. 775 into law.

Published: November 13, 2019

The National Task Force on Rule of Law & Demo­cracy commends the House Commit­tee on Science, Space, and Tech­no­logy for its bipar­tisan support of H.R. 1709/S. 775, the Scientific Integ­rity Act of 2019. We strongly urge the House of Repres­ent­at­ives and the Senate to take up this import­ant legis­la­tion and pass it into law.

In Octo­ber 2019, our Task Force — a group of former govern­ment offi­cials, which includes both Repub­lic­ans and Demo­crats — published a report high­light­ing how object­ive govern­ment research and data are essen­tial to effect­ive governance and demo­cratic over­sight. The report docu­ments the ways the guard­rails histor­ic­ally protect­ing govern­ment research from politi­ciz­a­tion, manip­u­la­tion, and suppres­sion are deteri­or­at­ing. From alter­ing a weather map to bury­ing reports about climate change, we are at a crisis point, with regu­larly recur­ring viol­a­tions of previ­ously respec­ted norms protect­ing the role of govern­ment research in poli­cy­mak­ing.

The Scientific Integ­rity Act contains many provi­sions in line with the legis­lat­ive propos­als in our report and is a bipar­tisan defense of previ­ously respec­ted safe­guards. It would require agen­cies to have scientific integ­rity policies and mandate across-the-board scientific integ­rity stand­ards. It would also require agen­cies to have appro­pri­ate rules, proced­ures, and safe­guards in place to ensure the integ­rity of the scientific process.

Further, the Scientific Integ­rity Act would prohibit the alter­a­tion and suppres­sion of scientific find­ings, as well as retali­ation against scient­ists. And it would bar efforts to impede the timely release and commu­nic­a­tion of scientific find­ings.

These reforms are sorely needed. Scientific integ­rity is a pillar of ethical and trust­worthy govern­ment. It should not be a partisan issue. We are pleased that the Scientific Integ­rity Act has both Repub­lican and Demo­cratic co-spon­sors. We call on members in both houses of Congress to support this crit­ical legis­la­tion.