November 6, 2020

Restoring Science, Protecting the Public: Recommendations for Federal Agencies in the Next Presidential Term 

Posted by Caitlin Bergstrom

By Cheyenne Young, AGU’s Fall 2020 Public Affairs Intern


Amid the ongoing elections, the United States is facing the public health crisis COVID-19 and the climate crisis, in addition to tackling years of social injustice. Thousands of highly qualified professionals employed in U.S. government agencies are working to create comprehensive solutions to address these challenges. While each agency has a different purpose, all share the same goal of serving the interests of U.S. citizens. 


For federal agencies to uphold the interest of the public and to advance solutions, policy decisions must be based on scientific facts and evidence. To further implement science and evidence-based public policies in the next presidential term, a coalition of non-governmental organizations, including AGU, co-authored Restoring Science, Protecting the Public: Recommendations for Federal Agencies in the Next Presidential Term, a culmination of eight memos.  Each memo identifies the actions government agencies should take to prioritize science in public policies and restore scientific integrity. The recommendations in each memo are geared towards increasing public trust in government decisions and ensuring that federal agencies have the appropriate resources to achieve their goals.  


AGU endorsed two of the memos, one addressing the Department of Interior (DOI) and the other addressing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). You can read all eight agency memos drafted by the coalition, including the Environmental Protection Agency and Office of Science, Technology, and Policy, here 


The Department of Interior consists of several agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. the Geological Survey, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manage natural resources in the U. S. Through specific policy actions such as committing to using the best available science, being transparent with decision making and facilitating information sharing, DOI will effectively create science-based policies in the interest of the public to accomplish their mission.  


NOAA is one of the leading science agencies in the country. The organization plays a critical role in sharing the latest research and data in international diplomacy settings on climate science, atmospheric sciences, and coastal and marine environments, as well as information on the conservation and management of marine resources. To fully support the scope of work the agency conducts and improve scientific integrity, the coalition advises leadership in the Department of Commerce to provide financial and political support to the agency. This additional support will allow NOAA to foster partnerships in ocean sciences and technology to further our understanding of the ocean, while ensuring the availability of data to the public. They also advised providing robust climate services to help communities adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.  


The coalition hopes that constituents will use this document to stay wellinformed and that government officials consider the recommendations as it will lead to innovative science-based policies and solutions to current challenges that face the nation.