Scientific Integrity: The Perils and Promise of White House Administration
31 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2011
Date Written: April 11, 2011
This Article was written for a Fordham Law Review symposium on “Presidential Influence over Administrative Action, Recent Developments.” The Article explores developments in scientific integrity in the first two years of the Obama Administration. Specifically, it looks at the impact of “presidential administration” - that is, of top-down White House directives to administrative agencies - on scientific integrity. I define processes embodying scientific integrity as those designed to enable expert scientific findings to be presented without extra-scientific interference or distortion. Scientific integrity is a subset of information integrity. A system that facilitates information integrity is one that is relatively transparent and seeks to present factual information as truthfully as possible. This Article seeks, through the example of scientific integrity in the Obama Administration, to draw lessons about the impact of presidential administration on information integrity.
The Article concludes that while presidential administration alone is insufficient and often counter-productive for fostering information integrity, statutory schemes can harness the positive potential of presidential administration while imposing checks necessary to curtail its dangers. This conclusion has constitutional implications, insofar as it undermines the accountability-based justification for unitary executive theory. It also encompasses some policy and political guidance for transparency advocates who seek to improve information integrity in the administrative state.
Keywords: White House, scientific integrity
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