The Biden administration will investigate Trump-era political interference in science across the administration. This is the first step in what White House officials called a comprehensive effort to rebuild a demoralized federal workforce and prevent future abuse.
In a letter to the heads of all federal agencies, the White House Science and Technology Policy Bureau said it intends to announce Monday the formation of a task force aimed at identifying previous tampering with scientific decisions. It will also review the effectiveness of strategies that should protect science, which informs policy decisions from undue political influence.
“We know there have been obvious attempts to skew, pluck, and ignore science – we’ve seen it in multiple agencies,” said Jane Lubchenco, the new assistant director of climate and environment at the White House science bureau, all in one Interview. The Biden government heralds “a new era”.
Kelvin K. Droegemeier, who headed the White House science bureau during the Trump administration, declined to comment on the Biden administration’s plans when he was reached out by a former aide.
Former President Donald J. Trump’s disregard for science was regularly reflected in his various efforts to demeanor masks, discard the need for social distancing, and declare cold spells as evidence against global warming. Behind the scenes, federal scientists said Mr. Trump and his top political officials also routinely phased out researchers working on topics the government didn’t like, like climate change; studies that were not included that identified serious health risks from certain chemicals; and meddled in scientific decisions, particularly regarding the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Alondra Nelson, assistant director of science and society at the White House science bureau, said scientists across the administration were reviewing Trump-era politics, avoiding science for politics, and developing new safeguards.
While the review may uncover or establish further cases of political manipulation in science, White House officials admitted that there are few ways to hold Trump administration officials accountable for holding previous actions accountable. You also said that was not the point.
“The goal will not be to look backwards,” said Dr. Nelson. “The goal will be to try to implement practices and guidelines that will prevent anything that is exposed from happening again.”
You and Dr. Lubchenco said it remained unclear whether the office would develop a new government-wide guideline on scientific integrity or strengthen the rules of individual agencies, for example to improve transparency or to ban abuses such as suppression and falsification of results.
“Citizens have to trust the information provided by the federal government.” Dr. Lubchenco said.
The move follows a plan already underway at the Environmental Protection Agency to keep public records of decisions where policy has undermined science.
Mandy Gunasekara, who served as chief of staff at the EPA under the Trump administration, claimed that all of the agency’s decisions were based on scientific advice from career workers and criticized the effort as an attempt to delegitimize the work done over the past four years.