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Survey shows political influence on decisions

Cara J

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The Union of Concerned Scientists surveyed scientists in 16 federal agencies to gauge the role of science in the current administration. The results appear in a new report, Science Under Trump: Voices of Scientists across 16 Federal Agencies. The report is the latest in a series started in 2005 by UCS evaluating the integrity of science in federal agencies.  Investigating topics like staff capacity, employee morale, political influence and scientific integrity, researchers surveyed more than 63,000 scientists in agencies chosen based on their missions and history of scientific integrity. Results varied between agencies. The survey found relatively less perceived political pressure within the Food and Drug Administration and the National and Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and relatively more at the Environmental Protection Agency. Across agencies, 79 percent of respondents said they noticed staff reductions. Of those, 87 percent said the reductions made it more difficult for agencies to fulfil their missions. As of June 2018, only 25 of the positions considered science and technology appointees by the National Academy of Sciences have been filled. Scientists in several agencies reported that political appointees negatively affected their ability to work effectively. Twenty percent considered “influence of political appointees in your agency or [...]

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