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Science Advisor Programs

Scientific Integrity at EPA

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Scientific Integrity at EPA is the responsibility of every employee, contractor, grantee, volunteer and collaborator who conducts, utilizes, supervises, manages, communicates, or influences scientific activities. The Scientific Integrity Policy exists against a complicated regulatory backdrop. For example, the Policy works in conjunction with policies and procedures for addressing research misconduct, information quality, quality assurance, and peer review. The Policy also works in conjunction with statutes such as the Freedom of Information Act and Federal Advisory Committee Act.

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What is Scientific Integrity?

Scientific Integrity results from adherence to professional values and practices, when conducting and applying the results of science and scholarship. It ensures:

  • Objectivity
  • Clarity
  • Reproducibility
  • Utility

Scientific Integrity is important because it provides insulation from:

  • Bias
  • Fabrication
  • Falsification
  • Plagiarism
  • Outside interference
  • Censorship
  • Inadequate procedural and information security

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Why is Scientific Integrity Important?

  • Scientific integrity helps to build public support. People are more likely to support the Agency if they can trust the quality and integrity of its work.
  • Scientific integrity, along with federal policies on research misconduct, conflicts of interest, and transparency help to ensure that EPA employees, contractors, and grantees can be held accountable to the public.
  • Since EPA reseach often involves a great deal of cooperation and coordination among many different people in different disciplines and institutions, scientific integrity promotes the values that are essential to collaborative work, such as trust, accountability, and fairness. For example, data sharing policies, and confidentiality rules in peer review are designed to protect intellectual property interests while encouraging collaboration.
  • Scientific integrity promotes the aims of research, such as knowledge, truth, and avoidance of error. For example, prohibitions against fabricating, falsifying, or misrepresenting research data promote the truth and avoid error.
  • Finally, scientific integrity promotes a variety of other important moral and social values, such as compliance with the law, and health and safety.

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Principles of Scientific Integrity

In 1999, the Agency published its Principles of Scientific Integrity, developed in conjunction with the EPA's National Partnership Council, which is comprised of representatives of Agency labor unions and management. The Principles laid out the basic rules for ethical behavior by all EPA employees in:

  • Conducting scientific research
  • Interpreting and presenting results
  • Using scientific information and data

Training was also made available at that time on the Scientific Integrity Principles.

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Executive Branch and EPA Reaffirm Commitment to Scientific Integrity

A 2009 Executive Memorandum expressed the need for robust science to inform and guide decisions by Executive Branch departments and agencies. Shortly after this, the Administrator at the time issued a memorandum to all EPA employees in which she emphasized that science must be the compass guiding the EPA's environmental protection decisions and that the Agency cannot make the best decisions unless it has confidence in the integrity of the science on which it relies.   

In December, 2010, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) provided guidance for the development of scientific integrity policies by federal agencies. The guidelines require agencies and departments to create or improve policies related to:

  • Foundations of scientific integrity in government
  • Public communications
  • Use of federal advisory committees
  • Professional development of scientists and engineers

Acknowledging differences in structure and degree of regulatory responsibility, agencies and departments were given some latitude in developing their policies.

In response to OSTP, EPA convened an ad hoc scientific integrity working group, with members from across the Agency. A few months later, EPA released its draft policy for public comment. All of the public comments were considered and, in combination with discussions with other Federal agencies, contributed to an improved final policy, which was released in February 2012.

The EPA's Scientific Integrity Policy builds upon EPA's significant earlier scientific integrity efforts, focusing on the:

  • Promotion of a culture of scientific integrity throughout the EPA
  • Release of scientific information to the public
  • Consistent use of peer review and federal advisory committees
  • Professional development of government scientists

The Policy also established a Scientific Integrity Committee (the Committee) to provide oversight for its implementation. The Committee, led by the Scientific Integrity Official, encourages consistent Policy implementation and further bolsters the EPA's broader efforts to ensure the integrity of the Agency's scientific, engineering, and other technical work.

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Scientific Integrity Committee

The Scientific Integrity Policy establishes a Scientific Integrity Committee to implement the Policy. The Committee consists of Deputy Scientific Integrity Officials that represent each of the Agency's Program Offices and Regions. The Scientific Integrity Official (ScIO) chairs the Committee. The ScIO is the Agency's focal point on scientific integrity and serves as the Agency's expert on such matters.

Francesca T. Grifo, Ph.D., EPA Scientific Integrity Official and Committee Chair


Deputy Scientific Integrity Official
Office of the Administrator Wes Carpenter
Office of the Administrator - Office of Children's Health Protection Jeanne Briskin
Office of the Administrator - Office of Policy Al McGartland
Office of the Administrator - Science Advisory Board Tom Brennan
Office of Air and Radiation Betsy Shaw
Office of the Chief Financial Officer David Bloom
Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Carol Ann Siciliano
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Erica Canzler
Office of General Counsel Jim Payne
Office of International and Tribal Affairs Martin Dieu
Office of Land and Emergency Management Barry Breen
Office of Mission Support
Office of Environmental Information
Lynnann Hitchens
Office of Research and Development Bruce Rodan
Office of Water Benita Best-Wong
Region 1 Johanna Hunter
Region 2 Anahita Williamson
Region 3 Bill Jenkins
Region 4 Dawn Taylor
Region 5 Carole Braverman
Region 6 David (Wes) McQuiddy
Region 7 Cecilia Tapia
Region 8 Debra Thomas
Region 9 Duane James
Region 10 Linda Anderson-Carnahan

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History of Scientific Integrity at EPA

While our Scientific Integrity Policy dates from 2012, EPA has a long history of attention to scientific integrity. Many EPA administrators have addressed integrity and transparency in memos to the Agency. Administrator William Ruckelshaus drafted a memo in 1983 establishing a culture of integrity, which was followed in 1989 with one by William Reilly and another in 1993 by Carol Browner. In 1999, the National Partnership Council of EPA released their Principles of Scientific Integrity. A March 2009 Executive Memorandum directed the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop a plan aimed at ensuring the integrity of federal science. In May of that year, a year and a half before OSTP released its plan, the Administrator at the time released a memorandum that declared "Science must be the compass guiding our environmental protection decisions.…While the laws that EPA implements leave room for policy judgments, the scientific findings on which these judgments are based should be arrived at independently using well-established scientific methods, including peer review, to assure rigor, accuracy, and impartiality."

In December, 2010, OSTP provided guidance to federal agencies for the development of scientific integrity policies. These guidelines required agencies and departments to create or improve policies related to:

  • Foundations of Scientific Integrity in Government
  • Public Communications
  • Use of Federal Advisory Committees
  • Professional Development of Scientists and Engineers

Acknowledging differences in structure and degree of regulatory responsibility, agencies and departments were given some latitude in developing their policies.

In response to OSTP, EPA convened an ad hoc scientific integrity working group, with members from across the Agency. A few months later, EPA released its draft policy for public comment. Public comments and discussions with other federal agencies contributed to the improved final policy.

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