[env-trinity] Ensuring Scientific Integrity at the Department of Interior, Secy of Interior Order, 9.29.2010

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Sep 30 16:29:29 PDT 2010

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility News Release

For Immediate Release: September 29, 2010
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

Order Could Be Transformative 

Washington, DC - The Secretary of Interior today issued a far-reaching order
that may significantly improve the transparency, reliability and
verifiability of its scientific and technical work, according to Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  Interior's action will
likely have government-wide influence on the Obama administration's
struggling effort to craft a new system of scientific integrity safeguards. 

Today Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a "secretarial order" which
immediately becomes official policy.  This order represents a dramatic break
from the agency's checkered past and contains sweeping new mandates,
including -  

. A ban on political appointees rewriting or altering scientific documents; 

. Transparency that allows changes in technical documents to be tracked; and

. Whistleblower protection for scientists who report manipulation of
technical reports.  

These and other changes in the Salazar order now must be reduced into
specific procedural steps for inclusion in the departmental manual and
incorporation into guidance for individual Interior agencies, such as the
National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management,
Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Geological Survey and the successors to the
former Minerals Management Service. 

 "We congratulate Secretary Salazar for taking a major step forward in
protecting both the integrity of government science and its scientists,"
stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, who has been on of Interior's
harshest critics on this topic.  "There are still a lot of details to be
worked out but if agency rules reflect the spirit of this order, then
government science will be much more transparent and trustworthy."  

Major elements of Secretary Salazar's order reflect steps long advocated by
PEER and other reform groups, including clear rules allowing scientists to
speak to the public, lifting bars against involvement in scientific
professional societies and punishment for managers who skew technical data
or findings.  These broad policy strokes, however, now must be translated
into enforceable internal processes.  

Interior's action will also affect the stalled presidential scientific
integrity initiative that was supposed to have been in place in 2009 but is
still in limbo.  Interior not only leapt ahead of the tardy White House
Office of Science & Technology Policy effort but set a bar that all other
agencies will have to meet, or else explain why Interior can implement
policies that are beyond their ken.   

"While this is a welcome development, we have seen bold rhetorical
commitments to scientific integrity before without follow-up," added Ruch,
noting that the Interior order did not set a deadline for promulgation of
implementing rules.  "Once the rules are in place, they must be enforced.
So, we will wait for the day when this administration punishes one of its
own political appointees for covering up or sugarcoating inconvenient


Read the Secretarial Order
PageID=45590> &PageID=45590> 

Compare the original Interior proposal

See the stalled Obama scientific integrity agenda


Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land/fax

415 519 4810 mobile

bwl3 at comcast.net 

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org 




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