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  • Washington Highlights

    Biden Issues Executive Order and Memorandum on Science Policy and Scientific Integrity


    Heather Pierce, Senior Director, Science Policy & Regulatory Counsel

    President Joe Biden signed a memorandum and executive order on Jan. 27 addressing scientific integrity and science policy.

    In the memorandum “Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking,” President Biden made a commitment “to make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data” and to insulate scientific decision-making and the work of federal scientists from “improper political interference.”

    Among other actions, the memorandum:

    • Directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to ensure “the highest level of integrity in all aspects of executive branch involvement with scientific and technological processes.”
    • Requires a task force of the National Science and Technology Council “to conduct a thorough review of the effectiveness of agency scientific-integrity policies developed since the issuance of the Presidential Memorandum of March 9, 2009.”
    • Ensures agencies “consider, supplement, and support their plans for forming evidence-based policies,” including the evidence-building and annual evaluation plans.
    • Mandates that each agency designates a chief science officer and scientific integrity official.

    President Biden also signed an executive order establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), an advisory group consisting of 26 members who will be consulted on science, technology, and innovation issues, as well as scientific evidence required to inform public policy in other areas.

    The president’s science advisor and two nonfederal members will co-chair the group. Except for the science advisor and the U.S. chief technology officer, all council members will be nonfederal individuals with “diverse perspectives and expertise in science, technology, and innovation.”

    The AAMC previously issued a statement in support of the named members of the Biden administration’s science team, including proposed OSTP Director and Science Advisor Eric Lander, DPhil, and PCAST external Co-chairs Frances Arnold, PhD, and Maria Zuber, PhD.