Committee on Science and Technology
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Letters From the Committee :: May 19, 2004

Reps. E.B. Johnson and Baird Letter Transmitting GAO Recommendations on Science Advisory Committee Member Selection Process to President

Letterhead for the Committee on Science
May 19, 2004

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As you know, there has been an ongoing controversy regarding the integrity of the science used in policy-making during your administration.  Both Representative Waxman and the Union of Concerned Scientists, the later supported by 20 American Nobel prize-winners, have issued detailed reports documenting disturbing patterns of politicization of science and science advice during your tenure.  We are sure that you are as concerned about the seeming pattern as we are.

In the wake of early press reports alleging that potential appointees to Federal scientific advisory panels had been asked inappropriate questions regarding their party affiliation, and that some scientists far from the mainstream in the field or with seemingly glaring conflicts-of-interest had been put in prominent advisory panel roles, we asked to GAO to review the policies and procedures in the Executive branch relevant to Scientific Advisory Panels (SAP).  GAO agreed to examine those policies and procedures to see if they could be tightened in ways that would limit an administration's ability to undermine the integrity of the process.

In sum, GAO argues that there need to be changes by most agencies as well as changes in the guidance and practices of the Office of Government Ethics and of the General Services Administration.  If the recommended policy changes have been in place when your administration came to office, it is unlikely that some of the events which have been reported could have occurred.  We are pleased to share with you the findings of their efforts, and ask that you fully embrace those findings....

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