The Government Accountability Office will look into whether the Trump administration is safeguarding scientific integrity.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) asked the GAO to investigate the issue on Sept. 25, calling media reports of political appointees screening Environmental Protection Agency grants and officials at multiple agencies purging references to climate change and other scientific information “troubling.”
“It is vital that science be impartial and free from interference, suppression or distortion,” wrote Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
In 2009, President Barack Obama instructed all federal science agencies to develop and adopt scientific integrity policies; by last December, 24 departments and agencies had complied. Nelson requested that GAO assess the status of those policies within the federal government, including how adequate they are in ensuring impartial research and communication, whether “the administration has violated scientific integrity policies” and whether federal scientists are aware of their rights.
GAO informed Nelson on Tuesday that it would accept his request but said the work “will begin in about four months when staff will become available.”
“Reports that administration officials are trying to muzzle and intimidate government scientists, especially those engaged in climate research, are deeply disturbing and must not be tolerated,” Nelson said in a statement. “We have to get to the bottom of this and put a stop to any meddling that occurs. Scientists must be free to carry out their work without interference.”