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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On January 12, 2023, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced the release of A Framework for Federal Scientific Integrity Policy and Practice, “a roadmap that will help strengthen scientific integrity policies and practices across the federal government.” The framework builds on the assessment of federal scientific integrity policies and practices described in the January 2022 report, Protecting the Integrity of Government Science, and draws from extensive input from federal agencies, as well as from across sectors, including academia, the scientific community, public interest groups, and industry. According to OSTP, the framework has several key components that federal departments and agencies will use to improve scientific integrity policies and practices, including:

  • A consistent definition of scientific integrity for all federal agencies;
  • A model scientific integrity policy to guide agencies as they build and update their policies; and
  • A set of tools to help agencies regularly assess and improve their policies and practices.

The framework requires all agencies to designate a Scientific Integrity Official (SIO) and agencies that fund, conduct, or oversee research to designate a Chief Science Officer (CSO), and it establishes the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Subcommittee on Scientific Integrity to oversee implementation of the framework and evaluate agency progress. Agencies are directed to adopt the following timeline:

  • Within 60 days from public posting of the framework: Agencies should submit new or updated agency and department draft scientific integrity policies for review by OSTP and the Subcommittee via the mailbox .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address);
  • Within 120 days from public posting of the framework: OSTP and the Subcommittee will complete the reviews using the framework’s critical policy features for assessment;
  • Within 180 days after public posting of the framework: Each agency should provide an opportunity for public input on its scientific integrity policies and practices, such as through a listening session or request for comment on its draft policy;
  • Within 270 days from public posting of the framework: Final policies are due to OSTP. OSTP will compile and make public all agency policies, as well as all agencies’ designated CSOs and SIOs on a federal web page;
  • Within 360 days from public posting of the framework and every two years thereafter: All agencies report to OSTP on their progress toward implementing the Framework; and
  • For calendar year 2023 and annually thereafter: Each agency should publish, consistent with any requirements related to national security and privacy as well as any other applicable law, an annual report on the agency’s website.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On May 20, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report entitled Further Efforts Needed to Uphold Scientific Integrity Policy at EPA.  OIG conducted an Agency-wide survey to determine whether EPA’s Scientific Integrity Policy is being implemented as intended to ensure scientific integrity throughout EPA.  OIG received 4,320 responses (a 23.5 percent response rate), showing that 3,987 respondents were aware of or had some familiarity with the Scientific Integrity Policy.  According to OIG, among those respondents with a basis to judge, the majority (56 percent; 1,025 of 1,842) were satisfied with the overall implementation of the Policy.  OIG states that the survey also revealed some concerns with specific aspects of scientific integrity at EPA, including dissatisfaction with EPA’s culture of scientific integrity (59 percent; 1,425 of 2,402) and the release of scientific information to the public (57 percent; 1,049 of 1,842).  OIG recommends that EPA’s deputy administrator lead an effort to examine the causes associated with the scientific integrity concerns identified in the survey and communicate the results to EPA employees, including planned actions to address the causes.  OIG also made 11 recommendations to the EPA science advisor, including developing procedures for addressing and resolving allegations of scientific integrity violations, communicating the outcomes of reports of scientific integrity violations, and improving the release of scientific information to the public.  OIG states that EPA agreed with its recommendations and provided acceptable corrective actions.  According to OIG, EPA has completed two recommendations, and the others are resolved with corrective actions pending.