The Bush administration has undermined the integrity of U.S. science policy. It has stacked scientific advisory boards, suppressed research results and reports that conflict with its political agenda, refused to make decisions on the basis of the best available evidence, and prevented scientists from speaking openly with the public and the media.
Increasingly, making sound decisions regarding health, the environment, energy and climate change, and national security requires input from the scientific community. The public is not well-served when the advice of scientists is suppressed, distorted, or ignored. The next administration should:
- Select people to federal advisory committees on the basis of their scientific and technical expertise, as opposed to their party affiliation or voting record.
- Commit to making decisions on the basis of the best available scientific evidence.
- Ensure that government scientists are free to communicate the findings of their research to the public and the press, without censorship or the threat of retaliation.
- Restore the stature of the president’s science advisor, which has been downgraded under the current administration.
This last point is very important. The current Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy no longer serves as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and does not report to the president. Furthermore, most of the OSTP staff have been moved out of the White House complex. The president’s science advisor should report directly to the president, and be given the clout and stature needed to keep science and technology at the top of the administration’s agenda.
For more on CAP’s policies for increasing innovation in science and technology, please see: