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Washington, D.C. — Dr. William Hogarth, Director of the National Oceanic
& Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service, communicated to all agency
employees his concerns over a report showing political interference with scientific
decision-making at NOAA. Director Hogarth sent two emails in reaction to the
negative attention generated by the public release of a questionnaire administered
to NOAA Fisheries scientists working in field and regional offices by Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Union of Concerned
Scientists (UCS).

Hogarth’s emails, the first on June 30, 2005, two days after public release
of the survey, and the second on July 7, expressed concern over the survey results
that show undue political pressure within the agency and explained to NOAA Fisheries
scientists that the results are inconsistent with his experience with the agency’s
decision-making process.

Hogarth’s communication encouraged employees to “talk with your
leadership and ask questions where you do not understand the basis for management
decisions” because in an organization such as NOAA Fisheries there are
many factors that must be considered in scientific decision-making. Hogarth’s
follow-up email added, “These accusations sincerely bother me. In fact,
I consider this to be an attack on me as a manager.”

The survey of more than 460 NOAA Fisheries scientists, which received a response
of 27%, showed agency science is suffering under political manipulation and
inappropriate influence of special interests. More than half of all respondents
(53%) were aware of cases in which “commercial interests have inappropriately
induced the reversal or withdrawal of NOAA Fisheries scientific conclusions
or decisions through political intervention,” and only one-quarter of
the respondents said they “trust NOAA Fisheries decision makers to make
decisions that will protect marine resources and ecosystems.”

In its response to both Hogarth messages, PEER expresses its concern that
Hogarth set out to explain away the disturbing reports of political interference
as the inability of agency scientists to fully appreciate the non-scientific
factors in decision-making. This argument fails to show that scientific decisions
at the agency are safe from inappropriate influences and criticizes highly trained
professional staff in the process.


NOAA Fisheries Director Hogarth’s e-mails to all agency employees

PEER’s response to Director Hogarth’s reaction to the survey results

a summary of the survey results, look at the full survey results & read
the scientists’ essays about how to improve scientific integrity

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