Biden administration formally launches task force to ensure scientific decisions are free from political influence

The Biden administration announced Monday the formal launch of its Scientific Integrity Task Force which will review the federal government's scientific policies to ensure they are free from inappropriate political influence. By Kristen Holmes, CNN

(CNN) -- The Biden administration announced Monday the formal launch of its Scientific Integrity Task Force which will review the federal government's scientific policies to ensure they are free from inappropriate political influence.

The 46 members come from across the federal government and will meet for the first time on Friday.

The review comes after several former Trump administration officials have said they felt political pressures while doing their jobs during the pandemic.

The effort is being led by the White House Office of Science and Technology and stands as an early example of the Biden administration's commitment to science and government accountability. In a statement Monday, OSTP said mobilizing the task force "would the lift up the voices of Federal scientists of many perspectives and backgrounds, in order to ensure that scientific integrity is paramount in Federal governance for years to come."

"Scientific and technological information, data, and evidence are key to the development of effective policies and equitable program delivery throughout government," wrote OSTP Deputy Directors Alondra Nelson and Jane Lubchenco to Scientific Integrity Task Force co-chairs and members. "As evidence-based policymaking becomes increasingly central to the work of the Federal government, it is important to affirm, strengthen, and safeguard the policies, procedures, and diverse and inclusive communities of practice that facilitate the production of rigorous research evidence, free from interference or intervention."

An administration official told CNN in April that the task force's review is less about Trump's actions to interfere in scientific decisions and more about protecting science in the federal government going forward.

During Trump's four years in office, both he and many of his political appointees were notably hostile toward science, particularly the science around climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

Among other actions taken over the last four years, the Trump administration made several changes to various Environmental Protection Agency websites. In many cases, climate change language was stripped from them. At the time, the Trump administration's EPA said language was being updated to "reflect the approach of new leadership." The changes were later reversed by Biden's EPA.

Trump was also criticized for appointing a number of climate skeptics to key posts, including David Legates, a longtime climate change skeptic who was tapped to help run the federal agency charged with producing "much of the climate research funded" by the government, according to The Washington Post.

And earlier this year, a review of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Covid-19 guidance found that some of the agency's guidance during the Trump administration was not grounded in science or free from undue influence, according to a statement from a CDC spokesperson.

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