SCIENTIFIC FREEDOM AND THE PUBLIC GOOD
Scientific knowledge and its successful applications have played a large role in making the United States of America a powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy. The challenges that face the United States in the twenty-first century can only be met if this tradition is honored and sustained.
To that end, the U.S. government must adhere to high standards of scientific integrity in forming and implementing its policies. Breaches of this principle have damaged the public good and the international leadership of the United States. To meet its obligation to serve the public interest, the government must have reliable scientific work and advice at its disposal, and provide the public with reliable scientific information. This requires the government to provide federal scientists with the resources and the professional environment necessary to carry out their missions effectively and honestly. The government should also draw on the knowledge of federal scientists and of the larger scientific community to formulate public policy in an objective and transparent manner.
Scientists employed by government institutions commit themselves to serve the public good free from undisclosed conflicts of interest and to carry out science that is reliable and useful, while respecting statutory limitations such as national security laws. Therefore, government scientists should, without fear of reprisal or retaliation, have the freedom:
*to conduct their work without political or private-sector interference;
*to candidly communicate their findings to Congress, the public, and their scientific peers;
*to publish their work and to participate fully in the scientific community;
*to disclose misrepresentation, censorship, and other abuses of science; and
*to have their technical work evaluated by scientific peers.
We call on Congress and the executive branch to codify these freedoms, to establish stronger means for gathering scientific advice, and to take concrete steps to enhance transparency, so as to create conditions conducive to a thriving scientific enterprise that will serve our democracy with integrity and bring the full fruits of science to all Americans and to the world.
For more information on Scientific Freedom and the Public Good and the related report Federal Science and the Public Good: Securing Independent Science in Policymaking, visit www.ucsusa.org/scientificfreedom.