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June 17, 2020

Chairwoman Johnson Expresses Concern Over Assessment into Alleged Violation of Scientific Integrity Policy

(Dallas, TX) – On Monday afternoon, the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) released An Independent Assessment of Allegations of Scientific Misconduct that examined four complaints received by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Scientific Integrity Officer of alleged violations of the Agency’s scientific integrity policy in September 2019. The complaints were in relation to communication and messaging by NOAA officials regarding Hurricane Dorian. NAPA found that actions taken by NOAA officials in developing and issuing its public statement on September 6, 2019, violated the agency’s scientific integrity policy. 

On September 11, 2019, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee opened its own investigation into the events surrounding claims that Hurricane Dorian would impact Alabama. Committee staff interviewed NOAA’s Acting Administrator Dr. Neil Jacobs and subsequently requested interviews with implicated Department of Commerce (DOC) staff, but those requests have yet to be satisfied. 

Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) issued the following statement.

“I commend NOAA for engaging the independent National Academy of Public Administration to investigate the alleged violations. While the findings of this NAPA report are serious and the misconduct of the NOAA officials should not be overlooked, it must be noted that the scope of this review was limited to the implementation of NOAA’s Scientific Integrity Policy and does not extend to Department of Commerce and Executive Office of the President (EOP) officials. As this report and the Science Committee’s ongoing investigation have found, officials from DOC and EOP were involved in instructing NOAA leadership to issue the statement on September 6. They too must be held accountable for the role they played in the scientific integrity violations found by NAPA. It is imperative that we have the full story so we can ensure that all National Weather Service forecasts, including hurricane forecasts, are issued in a timely and accurate way.

“As I have said many times before, Federal scientists must be able to do their work, in this case by issuing an accurate forecast, free of political influence. I am grateful that my colleague Representative Tonko, who has been a long-time champion of scientific integrity, had the foresight to request a scientific integrity investigation into these actions by NOAA officials. This incident has shown how vital it is that the Scientific Integrity Act be passed into law to allow Federal scientists to do their jobs without political influence, and to ensure the American people do not lose faith in critical Federal activities.”