12 February 2021 Vol 371, Issue 6530
Strengthen scientific integrity under the Biden administration
By Jacob M. Carter, Gretchen T. Goldman, Andrew A. Rosenberg, Genna Reed, Anita Desikan, Taryn MacKinney
Science12 Feb 2021 : 668-671 Restricted Access
Accountability must extend to highest levels of leadership
At his victory speech on 7 November 2020, U.S. president Joseph R. Biden described that the will of the people was in part to “marshal the forces of science.” He declared that his plans to beat the novel coronavirus would be built on a bedrock of science. On 27 January, the Biden administration issued a presidential memorandum to strengthen scientific integrity and evidence-based decision-making (1). These are great steps to bring science back to the table, but the administration still has a lot of work ahead to improve the role of science in government decision-making. The records of abuses of the past 4 years and data from surveys provide evidence that under the Trump administration, scientists were censored, scientific information was ignored, and reports and publications were unduly suppressed—all actions that undermined the appropriate use of science in decision-making processes. This occurred despite many federal agencies already having scientific integrity policies, communications policies, and well-established science advisory systems in place to promote an appropriate role for science in agency decision-making. But from these setbacks, we can draw lessons and suggest a road map for moving forward.