“Scientific Freedom and the Public Good” – Statement to the next president

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On February 14 a group of prominent scientists, organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists, released a statement – “Scientific Freedom and the Public Good”—calling for the next president to put an end to political interference in science and create changes that would allow federal science to flourish. We support the UCS Restoring Scientific Integrity Network.

Recognizing that good federal policy depends on reliable and robust scientific work, UCS and the scientists are urging the next administration to guarantee basic scientific freedoms for government scientists. Read the statement and see the list of prominent endorsers here.

Text of the statement:

Scientific Freedom and the Public Good
February 14, 2008
Scientific knowledge and its successful applications have played a large role in making the United States of America a powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy. The challenges that face the United States in the twenty-first century can only be met if this tradition is honored and sustained.

To that end, the U.S. government must adhere to high standards of scientific integrity in forming and implementing its policies. Breaches of this principle have damaged the public good and the international leadership of the United States. To meet its obligation to serve the public interest, the government must have reliable scientific work and advice at its disposal, and provide the public with reliable scientific information. This requires the government to provide federal scientists with the resources and the professional environment necessary to carry out their missions effectively and honestly. The government should also draw on the knowledge of federal scientists and of the larger scientific community to formulate public policy in an objective and transparent manner.
Scientists employed by government institutions commit themselves to serve the public good free from undisclosed conflicts of interest and to carry out science that is reliable and useful, while respecting statutory limitations such as national security laws. Therefore, government scientists should, without fear of reprisal or retaliation, have the freedom:

• to conduct their work without political or private-sector interference;
• to candidly communicate their findings to Congress, the public, and their scientific peers;
• to publish their work and to participate fully in the scientific community;
• to disclose misrepresentation, censorship, and other abuses of science; and
• to have their technical work evaluated by scientific peers.

We call on Congress and the executive branch to codify these freedoms, to establish stronger means for gathering scientific advice, and to take concrete steps to enhance transparency, so as to create conditions conducive to a thriving scientific enterprise that will serve our democracy with integrity and bring the full fruits of science to all Americans and to the world.

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