As the Chief Data Officer, Evaluation Officer, and Statistical Official of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), we strongly affirm the principles expressed in President Biden’s Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking1, signed on January 27, 2021, and commit to adhering to these principles in all aspects of HHS’s work and in pursuit of its mission. HHS welcomes this government-wide commitment to science that is free of political influence and to policy decisions based on the best available evidence.
We hold primary responsibility within HHS for fulfilling the statutory requirements of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 20182, which aims to make data accessible and develop statistical evidence to support policymaking. Adherence to the principles of scientific integrity is essential to fulfilling these objectives and integral to the spirit of this Act, which guides substantial work across HHS. We commit to ensuring that the scientific integrity policies of the Department consider, supplement, and support the HHS plans for forming evidence-based policies, including the evidence building plan, by incorporating scientific integrity principles into HHS’s data governance and evaluation approaches.
HHS endorses the understanding of scientific integrity elaborated in the National Research Council of the National Academies’ publication Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency.3 This report establishes four principles for statistical agencies to follow: produce data that are relevant to policy issues, achieve and maintain credibility among data users, achieve and maintain trust among data providers, and achieve and maintain a strong position of independence from the appearance and reality of political control. These principles are the core of the scientific integrity ideal, which HHS strives to embody.
Scientific integrity is essential to achieving HHS’s mission: to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services.4 The development and delivery of health services, human services, and programs for health promotion and disease prevention must be based on the latest and best available scientific evidence and must continually evolve in response to developments in scientific understanding. Furthermore, HHS fosters new scientific knowledge through its investments in basic, clinical, and public health research, the results of which must be transparently communicated and acted upon to guide program and policy decisions. A commitment to following the science is not only ethical, it leads to more effective delivery of the HHS mission.
- https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/27/memorandum-on-restoring-trustin- government-through-scientific-integrity-and-evidence-based-policymaking/
- National Research Council. Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency: Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009. Available at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12564.
Scientific integrity is and always has been essential to the mission and operation of HHS. We renew this commitment today: to align the delivery of all HHS programs and the generation and sharing of research findings with the principles of scientific integrity. HHS stands besides its partners across the federal government in conducting work grounded in science to best serve the American people.