NASA Releases New Scientific Integrity Framework

While the December 17 deadline in the scientific integrity effort of the Obama Administration is for submitting final draft policies to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, some agencies have opted to make their work public.  The Department of Interior policy has been out for months, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a policy earlier this week, and other agencies have issued drafts or portions of their policies in the last few months.

Earlier today NASA joined its fellow agencies with a new ‘framework‘ for scientific integrity.  Perhaps because allegations of interference with one of its scientists several years ago prompted the current exercise, NASA’s framework is not one of new policies, but of pointers to existing documents.  (Nature had intimated as much during the summer).  As is the case with other policies released so far, the emphasis is more on the conduct of its scientist employees.  That said, there is a more defined policy related to the communication of scientific research, again likely due to the challenges NASA faced in the last decade.  But since this is a repackaging more than a new effort, those looking for new ground in this area will continue to be disappointed.

With official Washington focused on its (annual) major failures of leadership right now, how many agencies make tomorrow’s deadline is not likely to gather much attention.  That the deadline is on a weekend and not connected to public release makes the lack of attention all the more likely.  And the lack of a next deadline makes the outcome of this effort to foster scientific integrity seem all the more hollow.