Washington D.C. – October 28, 2010 - Today, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, sent three letters to Administration officials to follow up on issues involving transparency and scientific integrity.
“All three letters highlight the Administration’s cavalier attitude toward transparency and scientific integrity,” Broun said. “This lack of response reveals the unwillingness of this Administration to cooperate with Congressional inquiries. For a President who promised an open and transparent federal government, it is frustrating that such optimistic rhetoric has too often not matched actions.”
On March 9, 2009, the President issued an executive memorandum on scientific integrity, tasking the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop recommendations within 120 days to guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch. These recommendations are well over a year late, despite many letters sent by members of the Science and Technology Committee requesting updates from OSTP.
Rep. Broun’s letter urges OSTP Director John Holdren to make these recommendations a priority, especially in light of numerous instances that call into question scientific integrity within this Administration.
The other two letters highlight issues involving potential political interference from this Administration in its dealing with the Deepwater Horizon accident, and subsequent justification for a drilling moratorium. In a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Broun highlights accusations from peer reviewers that the Administration intentionally mischaracterized their expert opinions to advance a policy goal of preventing domestic oil production.
On May 27, 2010, the Department of Interior released a report titled, Increased Safety Measures for Energy Development on the Outer Continental Shelf, which was peer-reviewed by seven experts selected by the National Academy of Engineering. Several of the peer reviewers later accused the Department of manipulating their opinions in order to justify a drilling moratorium. In his letter, Rep. Broun reiterates his request for documents related to this matter. Secretary Salazar never responded to the Committee’s inquiry, despite the formal letter and a direct personal request at a Congressional hearing.
In the third letter, Broun questions the Administration’s role in disbursing $500 million in funds committed by BP to the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI). The letter seeks documents relating to the role the Administration played in influencing and allocating private research funds. Broun initially sent a letter to OSTP Director Holdren requesting information on this issue over three months ago, yet the Committee has yet to receive a single document.
After taking office in 2009, President Obama promised to “creat[e] an unprecedented level of openness in government” and “return science to its rightful place.” Unfortunately, the President’s rhetoric on transparency and scientific integrity seems to have had little effect. “As we have seen over the last two years, rhetoric without action only breeds additional abuses,” stated Broun. “This is further compounded by the Administration’s lack of cooperation, which frustrates Congress’ ability to fulfill its oversight responsibilities.”
CLICK HERE to view the letter to OSTP regarding scientific integrity
CLICK HERE to view the letter to Department of Interior regarding scientific integrity
CLICK HERE to view the letter to OSTP regarding the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI)