The Environmental Protection Agency is asking for employee feedback on its plan to protect career federal scientists from political influence and while early feedback from at least some of them is that the new policies are insufficient, EPA officials are pledging to be flexible and responsive to criticism.
While EPA’s document is not yet finalized and the agency is still soliciting input, its initial version drew some criticism from scientific watchdog groups. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, for example, said the document was too vague and left much of the detail to be determined at a future date. Punishments for violators of the policy were not spelled out, PEER said, and guidelines for investigating allegations of those violations were not sufficiently specific. The policy deputizes EPA’s scientific integrity officer to enforce “corrective and administrative actions,” but does not say what those should be. Agency leaders are also responsible for ensuring those disciplinary matters are carried out, though the policy does not make any prescriptive recommendations.