One week after President Joe Biden took office, he created a task force with the goal of revising the policies surrounding science and politics. In May of 2021, that group, comprised of 50 experts from 29 different government agencies and led by the OSTP’s deputy director Alondra Nelson, began their work of reviewing the current agency policies, listening to public input, and meeting with other scientists and government officials. Now, this past Wednesday, the Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) has released their official document outlining the problems within the agency and what should be done to fix those issues.
The new policy aims to “create a broad culture of scientific integrity” to include those who make high-level decisions and are able to communicate scientific research to the public. They also seek to punish those who go against these rules and degrade the name of science. Eric Lander, who leads the OSTP, stated that “This report is a comprehensive Federal assessment of what’s needed to protect science—and scientists and technologists—within the U.S. government, and a clear government-wide policy statement calling for decision-making at all levels to be informed by science without interference.” The report also calls for the policy to be updated in order to include emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Since the Donald Trump administration, the relationship between science and government has been called into question. When politicians, and especially our president, argue against scientists and health officials releasing important information, it leads the public to lose their trust in science, which is dangerous and how these violations occur. They can also happen when research is misconducted, there is a flawed scientific practice or review, when others censor research, and there is a manipulation of the science being presented.
So far, the report has received mostly positive praise from the scientific community. However, experts say that while it is important for the government to acknowledge the mistreatment of science, it is also vital that real action is taken, which means further implementing rules and holding those negligent against science responsible.