WASHINGTON, October 20, 2020—The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent federal agency, has announced an investigation to learn whether political appointees have interfered with the work of scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in violation of those agencies’ scientific integrity and communications policies. The investigation was requested by U.S. Senators Patty Murray, Gary Peters and Elizabeth Warren. GAO’s investigation is critical to ensuring public trust during a pandemic, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Below is a statement by Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.
We’re in the middle of the worst public health crisis in a century, so it’s critically important that we get trustworthy, reliable and complete information directly from the experts at federal agencies like FDA and CDC. While the scientists and public servants who work for these agencies are doing their best to fight the pandemic and keep the public informed, we’ve seen political appointees altering, burying or contradicting that work. I’m thankful that Senators Murray, Peters, and Warren, recognize the importance of conducting this oversight – and encouraged that GAO will investigate these incidents.
The COVID-19 crisis has left deep scars on our country, with more than 200,000 lives lost and millions more people hospitalized, disproportionately concentrated among Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities. This pandemic is the most vivid demonstration I’ve ever seen of why we need government scientific agencies we can trust and strong protections to make sure that political interference doesn’t undermine the information we need to keep us safe and healthy. This GAO investigation is a critical step towards a more effective and just response to this devastating disease.
The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe and sustainable future. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org.