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U.S. Science Integrity Effort Hits Troubled Water: Scientific American

When President Barack Obama announced a government-wide effort to protect federal science from political interference, the Department of the Interior (DOI) took an early lead. In 2011, it became the first agency to finalize a new policy on scientific integrity and it has hired ten scientific-integrity officers to work with staff in its various bureaus. But the DOI may also be the first to run into a problem with the way the policies are implemented, as one of those officers claims to have been fired for upholding the guidelines.

"I thought I was doing the job I was hired to do and was doing the right thing. I was stifled," says Paul Houser, a hydrologist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who was appointed as scientific-integrity officer for the DOI's Bureau of Reclamation in April 2011. Houser was fired on February 10 and filed a complaint under the DOI's scientific-integrity policy two weeks later.

Houser alleges that he lost his job because he raised concerns with the DOI about the way it had represented the science behind a plan to remove four hydroelectric dams from a stretch of the Klamath River that straddles the California-Oregon border. DOI spokeswoman Kate Kelly declined to say why Houser had been fired. But watchdog groups say that Houser's complaint underscores the need for protections for those tasked with enforcing the new policies.

"There are things the president has to lead on and whistle-blower protection is one of them," says Francesca Grifo, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' scientific-integrity program in Washington, D.C.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Apr 4th, 2012 at 01:02:02 PM EST
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