Friday, April 29, 2022

political interference in science


"Respondents from CDC and FDA told us they did not report potential political interference in scientific decision-making because they feared retaliation." While these words from a brand-new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report are not earth-shattering to anyone paying attention over the past two years, they are a bombshell coming from a government agency. 

The GAO just released a report on political interference in scientific decisions, based on interviews with employees of the four HHS agencies most responsible for the coronavirus response. The findings were derived from personal interviews as well as tips offered to a confidential hotline set up for the investigation. The investigators’ conclusion, which they conveyed in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate judiciary committees and committees overseeing HHS, was that these agencies “do not have procedures that define political interference in scientific decision-making or describe how it should be reported and addressed.”

The four agencies subject to the GAO investigation were the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

The GAO investigators revealed to Congress that "a few respondents from CDC and FDA stated they felt that the potential political interference they observed resulted in the alteration or suppression of scientific findings." What were the consequences? "Some of these respondents believed that this potential political interference may have resulted in the politically motivated alteration of public health guidance or delayed publication of COVID-19-related scientific findings."

No comments: