Feds have a plan to prevent future Trump-style political manipulation of scientific data: report

On Tuesday, CNN reported that the Biden administration is planning new guidelines intended to safeguard scientific agencies from political manipulation of the sort that occurred routinely under former President Donald Trump.

"The report was written by the administration's interagency scientific integrity task force and first obtained by CNN on Tuesday," reported Liz Stark. "It found that instances of political influence are relatively infrequent in federal policymaking, but — when they do occur — they tend to do the most damage in eroding the public's trust in government."

"Although violations of scientific integrity are small in number compared to the magnitude of the Federal Government's scientific enterprise, they can have an outsized, detrimental impact on decision-making and public trust in science," stated the report by the task force. "As illustrated by high-profile cases, political intrusion into the conduct, management, communication, and use (or misuse) of science has a severe impact on public trust in Federal science."

Among the incidents named by the task force that need addressing include the Trump administration's effort to force a citizenship question on the census, over the objections of several former Census Bureau directors who warned it could reduce response rates and accuracy; and "Sharpiegate," where the projected NOAA path of a hurricane was edited with a black Sharpie to include Alabama, so as not to contradict Trump after he wrongly tweeted Alabama was in the hurricane's path.

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Beyond this, the Trump administration made sweeping policy decisions where the Republican Party's position contradicted the science, from withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement to demanding that fewer COVID-19 tests happen to lower the reported case rates.

"The report also incorporated feedback from public engagement sessions over the summer, in which the White House asked the public along with federal employees for their thoughts on how to best restore scientific integrity to the federal government," wrote Stark. "The administration listened to more than 1,000 people through listening sessions and roundtables over 30 days who made it clear that the Biden administration needs to work to bolster science in the wake of the Trump administration, which they said politicized and discredited it."

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