Obama's Memorandum on "Scientific Integrity"

Read it directly, rather than just commentary about it-

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Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 9, 2009


SUBJECT: Scientific Integrity

Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, increased efficiency in the use of energy and other resources, mitigation of the threat of climate change, and protection of national security.

The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions. If scientific and technological information is developed and used by the Federal Government, it should ordinarily be made available to the public. To the extent permitted by law, there should be transparency in the preparation, identification, and use of scientific and technological information in policymaking. The selection of scientists and technology professionals for positions in the executive branch should be based on their scientific and technological knowledge, credentials, experience, and integrity.

By this memorandum, I assign to the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (Director) the responsibility for ensuring the highest level of integrity in all aspects of the executive branch’s involvement with scientific and technological processes. The Director shall confer, as appropriate, with the heads of executive departments and agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget and offices and agencies within the Executive Office of the President (collectively, the “agencies”), and recommend a plan to achieve that goal throughout the executive branch.

Specifically, I direct the following:

1. Within 120 days from the date of this memorandum, the Director shall develop recommendations for Presidential action designed to guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch, based on the following principles:(a) The selection and retention of candidates for science and technology positions in the executive branch should be based on the candidate’s knowledge, credentials, experience, and integrity;

(b) Each agency should have appropriate rules and procedures to ensure the integrity of the scientific process within the agency;

(c) When scientific or technological information is considered in policy decisions, the information should be subject to well-established scientific processes, including peer review where appropriate, and each agency should appropriately and accurately reflect that information in complying with and applying relevant statutory standards;

(d) Except for information that is properly restricted from disclosure under procedures established in accordance with statute, regulation, Executive Order, or Presidential Memorandum, each agency should make available to the public the scientific or technological findings or conclusions considered or relied on in policy decisions;

(e) Each agency should have in place procedures to identify and address instances in which the scientific process or the integrity of scientific and technological information may be compromised; and

(f) Each agency should adopt such additional procedures, including any appropriate whistleblower protections, as are necessary to ensure the integrity of scientific and technological information and processes on which the agency relies in its decisionmaking or otherwise uses or prepares.

2. Each agency shall make available any and all information deemed by the Director to be necessary to inform the Director in making recommendations to the President as requested by this memorandum. Each agency shall coordinate with the Director in the development of any interim procedures deemed necessary to ensure the integrity of scientific decisionmaking pending the Director’s recommendations called for by this memorandum.

3. (a) Executive departments and agencies shall carry out the provisions of this memorandum to the extent permitted by law and consistent with their statutory and regulatory authorities and their enforcement mechanisms.

(b) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

4. The Director is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.


Link to the same document.





  1. kt Avatar

    My Number One Recommendation for Implementation of the new Obama Science Policy: Get rid of Ken Salazar. No big-hatted wolf-and prairie dog hatin’ rancher is going to manage any thing based on Science.

    Salazar should never have been appointed, and he needs to be removed – go back to Colorado, and spend more time with his holistic beef.

    I see that Defenders sent out an e-mail asking people to call Salazar and complain about his de-listing of wolves. THAT won’t do any good. INstead, what aren’t they saying Call, write and nag the POTUS – and tell him to send a clear signal he will follow science, and start by getting rid of Salazar. WHTY are Big Green groups afraid of waging an all-out campaign against the c’boy from CO?

  2. Jay Avatar

    Man, what a difference between the two presidents: Dubya issues memorandums stating that all federal land agencies must support hunting activities, and “O” issues memorandums on scientifc integrity. That pretty much says everything right there.

  3. Rusty Avatar

    Saying this and doing this are two different things. Obama speaks big but I want to see big action to go along with it.

    I sent an email to POTUS right after delisting that I’m sure will never be read.

    1. Jay Avatar

      I will hold judgement on Obama’s accomplishments until he’s been in office more than a couple months. My point, which you seemed to have missed, is that where Bush was concerned with tackling the “big issues” such as steroids in baseball and hunting edicts for land managment agencies, Obama seems to be concerned with issues that actually affect policy in a positive way.

  4. pc Avatar

    Sorry, still waiting to see the difference between this pressident and the last. The only thing I see so far is they are both clueless.


  5. Moose Avatar

    Science is good, but the battle agin willful ignorance is daunting. Check out this article, and especially the “problem wolves” in the pic…..


  6. timz Avatar

    “Saying this and doing this are two different things. Obama speaks big but I want to see big action to go along with it. ”

    Exactly. How many times did he say “no earmarks”, and just signed a bill with thousands of them.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      No President will get rid of earmarks, pork barrel, or whatever you call it.

      They are a fact of a system of geographic representation. People have complained about this for 200 years, usually people who do not live in the member of Congress’ district or state. The people in the home district — those who actually elect the member — are usually very pleased with the projects. It helps reelection.

      Fortunately, the portion of the budget that is earmarks is generally a small per cent of the total, and not all the projects are bad.

      No presidential candidate, including Obama, will be able to do more than trim them. If earmarks are that bad, there needs to be a fundamental change in the structure of the U.S. government — major amendments to the Constitution.

      This is a contrived issue to to justify voting against otherwise popular bills.

  7. JB Avatar

    “Exactly. How many times did he say “no earmarks”, and just signed a bill with thousands of them.”

    Every economist in the country was stressing the importance of passing the stimulus package quickly. Did you really think Obama was going to hold up the process and risk further destabilizing the economy? If you don’t like the package, perhaps you should try complaining to your Congressmen (i.e. the people who actually WROTE the bill).

    1. timz Avatar

      More Obama can do no wrong crap. He SIGNED the bill.
      “Every economist in the country” Huh?? I have seen countless on air and in writing who say this bill is a disaster and reckless spending.
      I’ll sleep much better at night knowing California got a few hundred thousand of my tax dollars for a tattoo removal program.

      1. timz Avatar

        “If you don’t like the package, perhaps you should try complaining to your Congressmen (i.e. the people who actually WROTE the bill).”

        No need, the entire deligation from my state voted against it.

      2. JB Avatar

        “More Obama can do no wrong crap. He SIGNED the bill.”

        Certainly Obama can do wrong. I just think you’re making a mountain out of mole hill. Everyone hates earmarks, except when their state is the direct beneficiary.

        FYI: My comment about economists was in reference to the need to pass the stimulus package quickly; you did not specify which bill you were referring to, so I wrongly (apparently) assumed that it was the economic stimulus package.

  8. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I have been writing letters and making calls since the first stimulus package was passed…I don’t discriminate, I think they were both fools on this one!

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      This bill he just signed was not the stimulus bill. It was the remainder of the annual budget of the United States.

      It is supposed to be passed every year by Oct. 1. The presidential election politics prevented this, so the government has been running since then by a “continuing resolution,” a very wasteful way to operating.

      This bill will change the amount of money the basic agencies of government have to spend until the next fiscal year. Hopefully that will mean a new appropriations bill will be sent to Obama before Oct. 1, 2009. You can also hope and work to see that it has fewer earmarks this time.

      1. timz Avatar

        You are correct and this is the bill I’m talking about. The stimulus is old news. Still waiting for that to have some positive effect also.

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Regarding earmarks, this article reflects my view.

    Earmarks — What’s All the Fuss About!

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Here’s another Obama promise, he needs to break . . . actually to modify.

    Lobbyist ban limits Obama’s options. Politico.

  11. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    PEER just came out with an alert on Obama’s memo. See below.. I think PEER is one organization we can look to and see if there truly is a transformation to more science-based policy.

    On March 9, President Obama issued an executive memorandum directing that within 120 days he will put forward recommendations for the use of science in agency decision-making, including –

    *”Appropriate whistleblower protections… to ensure integrity of scientific and technological information…”;

    *”Procedures to identify and address instances in which the scientific process or the integrity of scientific… information may be compromised”;

    *Rules to ensure the quality and transparency of scientific information relied upon by agencies.

    This directive was overshadowed in media coverage by the stem cell research Executive Order issued at the same time. This government-wide science effort may carry greater significance than the stem cell action.

    Suppression of environmental science has not stopped. It is continuing throughout federal agencies, from Guam to the Grand Canyon. An especially clear-cut example (pun intended) is unfolding right now in our national forests.

    PEER is working to stop political abuse of science and will actively participate in this novel attempt to develop affirmative means of protecting scientific integrity. If you have thoughts about how to implement this directive, please let us know.

  12. klm Avatar

    Great start. Missing is equally large issue: ENDING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST. EPA, FDA, NIH all produced their biggest failures because President had no policy to limit and prevent conflicts of interest in reviews by outside advisory groups and that failure caused great harm. Why didn’t this President address thtis equally important issue explicitly? Were any of those involved in writing this proclamation unwilling to address this issue because of their own history of ignoring conflicts of interest?


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan