Interior Department Moves to Ensure Scientific Integrity

by Matt Ball on September 30, 2010

Yesterday, Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar issues a secretarial order to ensure the integrity of the science and scientific products used in the Department’s decision making and policy development. This order is the first for any federal department in response to the Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity that was released last March.

The new policy, which will be codified in the Departmental Manual to ensure compliance by all employees, clearly affirms that Interior employees, political and career, will never suppress scientific or technological findings or conclusions. Further, it ensures scientists will not be coerced to alter or censure scientific findings, and employees will be protected if they uncover and report scientific misconduct by career or political staff.

The policy states that scientific and technological findings and conclusions will be made available to the public (other than information that is restricted). While this is a clear move toward transparency, it remains to be seen what types of geospatial analysis and visualizations might be communicated here.

This is a promising move to de-politicize scientific findings, and a sharp reminder of the the bullying and repression of research in the Bush administration.

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