The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) finally noted the passing of the 90 day deadline for progress on scientific integrity policies in a blog post earlier today (H/T Nature News – leave it to the British to stay on top of this). I’ll quickly discuss what’s in the progress report and stew over what isn’t there.
According to the post, 19 entities (departments and agencies) have submitted draft or final policies as of last week. This counters my assertion from last Saturday that most agencies missed the deadline. But at this point, all we have is the assertion from OSTP that the policies were turned in. Since only five agencies or departments have policies that are publicly available (Nature noted that NASA will simply be revising existing policies to ensure compliance with the directive), I can only work from that.
(The number of entities involved in this effort has shrunk, but it would appear to be based on some Departments opting to draft policies that would cover several entities_
Since this whole initiative has been a work in progress for 29 months and counting, and the subject of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, I’m partial to progress that I can see firsthand.
I’ve been perpetually disappointed. Not only does the OSTP blog post not include draft or finalized policies submitted to their office, it fails to mention any timeframe for making them publicly available. Even more concerning, there is no mention of those policies that have been publicly released. That is, regrettably, consistent with past practice.
While the progress report notes that OSTP will create a policy for its own activities, and that OSTP is working with the Office of Management and Budget on a policy for all of the Executive Office of the President, there’s no discussion of a government-wide policy. At the very least, it would be encouraging to see some capacity to review agency compliance and to hear appeals of agency actions. Because it’s not enough to have a policy. There needs to be procedures and oversight to ensure compliance with and execution of these policies. And it’s not enough to leave it up to the agency. But that appears to be the direction of drift going on now.