New Federal Guidelines for “Scientific Integrity”

On Friday the White House issued a memorandum for the heads of all federal departments and agencies on “Scientific Integrity.” The NYT reports:

Under the guidelines, government scientists are in general free to speak to journalists and the public about their work, and agencies are prohibited from editing or suppressing reports by independent advisory committees.

And the agencies are instructed that when communicating a scientific finding to the public, they should describe its underlying assumptions. For instance, they are told to describe “probabilities associated with both optimistic and pessimistic projections” — a guideline that, had it been in place last summer, might have helped the administration avoid overly optimistic estimates of the BP oil spill.