Interior issued in early February a new policy to ensure and maintain the integrity of scientific and scholarly activities used in the Department’s decision making. The policy follows on the Memorandum to the Heads of Departments and Agencies on Scientific Integrity issued by the Administration in December and includes the designation of a Departmental Science Integrity Officer. Dr. Ralph Morgenweck, US Fish and Wildlife Service Senior Science Advisor, has been tapped to serve in this new position at Interior.

Under this new policy, the Department will:

  • Use clear and unambiguous codes of conduct for scientific and scholarly activities to define expectations.
  • Facilitate the free flow of scientific and scholarly information, consistent with privacy and classification standards, and in keeping with the Department’s Open Government Plan.
  • Document the scientific and scholarly findings considered in decision making and ensure public access to that information and supporting data through established Departmental and Bureau procedures—except for information and data that are lawfully restricted from disclosure.
  • Ensure that the selection and retention of employees in scientific and scholarly positions are based on the candidate’s integrity, knowledge, credentials, and experience relevant to the responsibility of the position.
  • Ensure that public communications policies provide procedures by which scientists and scholars may speak to the media and the public about scientific and scholarly matters based on their official work and areas of expertise. In no circumstance may public affairs officers ask or direct Federal scientists to alter scientific findings.
  • Provide information to employees on whistleblower protections.
  • Examine, track, and resolve all reasonable allegations of scientific and scholarly misconduct while ensuring the rights and privacy of those covered by this policy and ensuring that unwarranted allegations do not result in slander, libel, or other damage to them.
  • Facilitate the sharing of best administrative and management practices that promote the integrity of the Department’s scientific and scholarly activities.