U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20250
May 10, 2013
Office of the Chief Scientist
10 Appendix A - Code of Scientific Ethics
This Directive establishes the U.S. Department of Agricultures (USDA) Scientific Integrity Policy and provides instruction and guidance to Departmental leadership, employees, and contractors to ensure the highest level of integrity in all aspects of the executive branch's involvement with scientific and technological processes and analyses.
2. SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS/CANCELLATION
This is a new regulation, superseding Secretarys Memorandum 1074-001 dated
August 5, 2011.
This policy includes guidance to decision makers as they develop public policies informed by sound science relevant to food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, and related issues. This information will ensure public confidence by articulating the principles of scientific integrity and roles and responsibilities of all USDA employees, including career staff and political appointees, in maintaining these principles within USDA. It will help ensure that services to USDA clients are backed by
sound science and that the actions of employees and contractors are conducted with integrity.
The policy directs employees, political and career, on both the proper use of scientific findings and the principles of conducting scientific activities consistent with the Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity dated March 9, 2009; the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) 2010 guidance on scientific integrity; the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Information Quality Guidelines1; SM -1074-001; and the 2004 OMB Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review.2
This directive must be used in conjunction with:
Additionally, this Regulation shall not be interpreted to conflict with any rights accorded a union representative under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute when communicating as a union representative.
Pursuant to the Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity dated March 9, 2009, and complying with applicable statutes, regulations, trade agreements, and/or international protocols, Executive Orders, or Presidential Memoranda, the policy of the Department is to:
b. Select and retain candidates for scientific and technical positions at USDA based on the candidate's scientific and technical knowledge, credentials, experience, and integrity, and hold them and their supervisors to the highest standard of professional and scientific ethics, as described in the Code of Scientific Ethics (Appendix A);
(3) Make scientific findings or conclusions considered or relied on in policy decisions publicly available online and in open formats, to the extent practicable, consistent with the Administrations Open Government Initiative, the Freedom of Information Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and other applicable statutes,
regulations or document-handling procedures and policies. Include information on the specific approach, data and models used to develop such scientific conclusions, including a clear explanation of underlying assumptions and uncertainties, and, where appropriate, probabilities associated with a range of projections or scenarios;
d. Continue to develop policies, in coordination with the General Services Administration and consistent with the Administrations guidance on lobbyists serving on Federal Advisory Committees (FACs), for convening FACs tasked with giving scientific advice, consistent with the following:
(1) The recruitment process for new FAC members should be as transparent as practicable. When practicable and appropriate, FAC member vacancies will be announced widely, including notification in the Federal Register with an invitation for the public to recommend individuals for consideration and for self- nominations;
(2) Professional biographical information of FAC appointees (including current and past affiliations) will be made widely available to the public (e.g., via a Web site) subject to Privacy Act and other statutory/regulatory considerations;
(3) The selection of members to serve on a scientific or technical FAC will be based on expertise, knowledge, and contribution to the relevant subject area. Additional factors for consideration will include the availability of the member to serve, diversity among members of the FAC, and the ability to work effectively on advisory committees. Committee membership should be fairly balanced in terms of points of view represented with respect to the functions to be performed by the FAC;
(5) Except when explicitly stated in a prior agreement between USDA and an FAC, all reports, recommendations, and products produced by FACs will be treated as solely the findings of such committees rather than of the U.S. Government and, thus, will not be subjected to intra- or inter-agency revision.
(1) Encourage, but not require, USDA scientists to participate in communications with the media regarding their scientific findings. Scientists are expected to coordinate with their immediate supervisors and public affairs office in accordance with the policies of their specific agencies. Agencies are expected to coordinate with the Office of Communications, which provides a centralized operational direction for communications about the work of the Department. Its role in communications regarding research and analysis done by USDA scientists and researchers is to assist with presentation, style, and logistics of the communications and advice on potential media requests or media outreach strategies.
(2) Ensure that scientists may communicate their findings without political interference or inappropriate influence, while at the same time complying with USDA policies and procedures for planning and conducting scientific activities, reporting scientific findings, and reviewing and releasing scientific products. Such communications include research on policy-related issues when appropriate to the role of the agency and scientist; however, the scientists should refrain from making statements that could be construed as being judgments of or recommendations on USDA or any other federal government policy, either intentionally or inadvertently. Communications on such matters should remain within the bounds of their scientific findings. Such scientific and technical communications for non-USDA media (e.g., manuscripts and presentations for scientific journals, workshops, conferences, and symposia) should follow agency technical review procedures and do not generally require review above the agency level.
(3) The scientific integrity policy is not meant to limit the obligations of political appointees and agency leadership in setting research priorities that may change due to budget constraints or other challenges that may arise, such as the need to address urgent public health crises. It also is not intended to limit the ability of public affairs staff to make decisions about whether or not the Department issues press releases or other external communications vehicles about research findings.
f. Encourage USDA scientists, engineers, and analysts to interact with the broader scientific community, in a manner that is consistent with Federal rules of ethics, job responsibilities, and existing agency policies, including:
(4) Allowing participation in professional societies, committees, task forces and other specialized bodies of professional societies, including removing barriers to serving as officers or on governing boards of such societies, to the extent allowed by law; and
(5) Allowing Government scientists and engineers to receive honors and awards for their research and discoveries with the goal of minimizing, to the extent practicable, disparities in the potential for private-sector and public-sector scientists and engineers to accrue the professional recognition of such honors or awards.
h. Protect those who uncover and report allegations of research misconduct or other violations of scientific integrity, as well as those accused of research misconduct or other violations of scientific integrity in the absence of a finding of misconduct, from prohibited personnel practices (as defined in 5 U.S.C. 2302(b));
i. Continue to comply with the requirements of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 (WPA), Public Law 101-12, and its expanded protections enacted by Public Law 103-424. The USDA shall also continue to comply with all Department- and Agency-specific WPA regulations, rules, and policies.
This Memorandum establishes the USDAs scientific integrity policy to direct the conduct of scientific investigation, management of scientific activities, and use of scientific information to the extent practicable, consistent with the Administrations Open Government Initiative, the Freedom of Information Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, Final Information Quality Bulletin on Peer Review, and other applicable statutes, regulations, OMB guidance and other Departmental regulatory decision making requirements embodied in DR-1512.
(2) All USDA employees, political and career, who engage in, supervise, or manage scientific activities, analyze and/or publicly communicate information resulting from scientific activities, or who utilize the information in decision making; and
(1) Serve as a neutral point of contact (ombudsman) for receiving allegations of violations of scientific integrity against USDA employees from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) hotline, directly from the public, or from other sources.
(3) Coordinate with OIG, the Office of Ethics, the Office of Human Resources Management, the Office of Communications, and the Office of the Chief Information Officer, and others as necessary to ensure that policies are aligned and guidance is appropriate and consistent.
(7) Immediately report any potentially criminal behavior to OIG and coordinate with the appropriate USDA agency to ensure that all records, documents, or other materials related to the allegation are provided to OIG. If OIG accepts the case for criminal investigation, it will assume responsibility for conducting the criminal investigation into the allegation.
(10) Maintain a public Web site containing USDA scientific integrity policy, procedures, points of contact, and an annual summary of the aggregate number of allegations of misconduct and their disposition (e.g., how many proceeded to investigation, and the number of findings of misconduct).
(1) Provide agency employees and volunteers with policy and guidance and ensure that they receive the training needed to understand their responsibilities under, and comply with, the Departmental policy and any agency-specific guidance on scientific integrity;
(3) Ensure that contractors, cooperators, partners, permittees, lessees, and grantees covered under the scope of this policy are aware of their responsibilities for complying with the principles of this policy and any agency-specific guidance.
(5) Monitor and report compliance with the USDA Scientific Integrity Policy to the DSIO, including activities undertaken to implement this policy and a summary of complaints received and their disposition.
(3) Coordinating with the appropriate human resources officer, ethics officer, Agency Research Integrity Officer (ARIO)3, information integrity officer, peer review officer, public affairs officer, the DSIO, advisory committee Designated Federal Officers and others as needed to ensure that agency policies are aligned and agency guidance is appropriate and consistent.
(4) Reporting all allegations received by the Agency to the DSIO; providing records when requested, and status reports to DSIO of the disposition of allegations (including those referred to the ASIO by DSIO).
(5) Consulting, as appropriate depending upon the nature of the allegation, with the ASIO, human resources officer, ethics officer, DSIO, OIG, Office of the General Counsel, and the Office of Civil Rights.
(6) Ensuring that all contracts, written agreements, cooperative agreements, grants, permits, and lessees, covered under the scope of this policy and under their purview, include the requirements of this policy in their performance work statement.
(4) Ensuring that any contractors, cooperators, partners, permittees, lessees, and grantees covered under this policy with whom they are executing contracts, written agreements, cooperative agreements, grants, leases, or permits are aware of their responsibilities for complying with this policy and any agency/office- specific guidance.
j. Contractors, cooperators, partners, permittees, lessees, and grantees are responsible for abiding by the principles contained in this policy regarding the integrity of the Departments scientific and scholarly activities, as specified in written agreements or statements of work.
a. Advisory Committee. Any committee, board, commission, council, conference, panel, task force, or other similar group that is established by statute, or established or utilized by the President or by an agency official, for the purpose of obtaining advice or recommendations for the President or on issues or policies within the scope of an agency officials responsibilities.
b. Agency Research Integrity Officer (ARIO). The individual appointed by a USDA agency that conducts research and who is responsible for overseeing agency responsibilities and activities related to research misconduct.