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President Biden Signs Executive Order Aimed At Restoring Scientific Integrity

Last week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at restoring scientific integrity in the White House.

The order will prevent "improper political interference in the work of Federal scientists or other scientists who support the work of the Federal Government," as well as emphasize the use of evidence when it comes to policymaking.

Before signing the order on January 27, Biden vowed to "protect our world-class scientists from political interference."

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As per the White House, he also promised to "ensure they can think, research, and speak freely and directly to me, the vice president, and the American people."

The order puts the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in charge of seeing to it that all agencies have adequate scientific integrity policies. Prior to his inauguration, Biden appointed geneticist Eric Lander as the director of the OSTP after elevating the White House post to Cabinet-level status for the first time ever.

Biden also created a task force to review agency scientific integrity policies, who will also be responsible for identifying instances where they failed to prevent political interference.

As Biden stated in a memo,

“Improper political interference in the work of Federal scientists or other scientists who support the work of the Federal Government and in the communication of scientific facts undermines the welfare of the Nation, contributes to systemic inequities and injustices, and violates the trust that the public places in government to best serve its collective interests.”

The Trump administration historically sidestepped or ignored scientific advice, a wrong which the new administration is eager to correct.

A glaring example of this was former President Trump repeatedly refuting science recognizing that humans are contributing to climate change.

“The previous administration undermined science at least 189 times, downplaying risks, concealing evidence from the public, and gutting federal scientific capacity,” Andrew A. Rosenberg of the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a statement. “We need a new direction —and with today’s executive actions, President Biden and his team are acknowledging the important role that science should play in solving the very real problems we face.”

h/t: White House