Sen. Mikulski’s letter requesting GAO report on openness in federal science communication

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Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) has requested a review by the congressional Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the policies and practices of federal science agencies to ensure openness in scientific communication. Mikulski is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over more than 80 percent of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program budget and also the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The request specifically refers to allegations that climate scientists at NASA and NOAA are restricted in their public communications.  Climate Science Watch will provide, as appropriate, information from our investigation that we have found useful in understanding this problem. 

The text of the letter:

February 17, 2006

The Honorable David Walker, Comptroller General
U.S. Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20548

Dear Mr. Walker:

I am writing to request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) undertake a review of the policies and practices of our federal science agencies to ensure openness in communication of federally supported science results.

Specifically, I request that GAO’s review include the federal science agencies within the jurisdiction of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, on which I serve as the Ranking Member. These agencies include: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

In recent weeks, the press has reported allegations that scientists at NASA and NOAA are routinely prevented from reporting their findings on climate change. If true, these serious allegations threaten the integrity of federally supported science.

I have always advocated funding and policies that support robust, independent and credible scientific research. Government scientists must be able to research and report their findings to the public without fear of censorship or intimidation. And American taxpayers have the right to know the facts.

Thank you for your attention to this request.

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