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Office of the Chief Scientist - Message to NASA Employees

Message from the Chief Scientist to all NASA employees: Recommitting to Scientific Integrity

5.15.12 - The iconic success of NASA is planted firmly on three foundational elements: innovation, inspiration, and integrity. While innovation and inspiration are visible through our endeavors and successes, it is our integrity – how we work, and our commitment to excellence and openness – that earns us the trust of the public and ensures our continued ability to inspire and innovate. Integrity is woven throughout the fabric of NASA. It has always been there. And each and every day, we recommit ourselves to keeping it there.

GSFC scientists

Image credit: NASA GSFC / Chris Gunn

Integrity is embedded in the rules and requirements that govern our professional behavior across all technical disciplines – in aeronautics, science and human exploration. It entails the responsible conduct of research and the pursuit of standards aimed at maintaining public trust in the scientific work that we perform. NASA has had policies in place for several years to meet these aims while also preserving employees’ freedoms to share their work with the public and their professional peers. A commitment to responsibility, transparency, and freedom in research has been essential to NASA’s ability to achieve incredible scientific research results and engineering feats. We at NASA should all be very proud of these achievements.

In response to a request from the Obama Administration to all federal agencies engaged in research and development activities, a team at NASA has recently revisited our policies. We expanded them to make selections of federal advisory committee members more transparent and to clarify the requirements and steps for employees to participate in outside professional organizations. We also used this opportunity to reaffirm our employees’ freedom to speak openly with the press, as addressed in the agency’s current communications policy, the public and their peers about the work they do. We have assembled the full set of policies in a Framework on Scientific Integrity accessible on NASA’s website at: http://www.nasa.gov/news/reports/sif.html

Despite the name, this responsibility actually extends far beyond just science. Whether we are scientists or engineers, accountants or astronauts, all of us are responsible for making NASA’s incredible achievements possible and, thus, for upholding principles of scientific integrity in our work. I invite you to take a moment to review the framework and submit any questions or comments through the InsideNASA website. I appreciate your continued commitment to the ideals outlined in this framework. It is our integrity that helps make NASA such a great place to work. Your awareness of the freedoms and responsibilities these policies support will help us continue to pursue new knowledge, fuel wonder, and make groundbreaking discoveries about the universe and our place in it.