Mike the Mad Biologist

Like Digby, I had the same thought pop into my head when I read this LA Times story about the continued suppression of scientific findings in government agencies: this is the work of Bush-era ‘burrowers’–conservative apparatchiks who refuse to carry out the mission of the agency. What I don’t get is this bit (italics mine):

Officials at those agencies maintain that scientists are allowed and encouraged to speak out if they believe a policy is at odds with their findings.

The director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, John P. Holdren, said in a statement last month that the president effectively set policy in his March 2009 memorandum calling for administration-wide scientific integrity standards.

“There should not be any doubt that these principles have been in effect — that is, binding on all executive departments and agencies,” Holdren said, adding that “augmentation of these principles” will be coming soon.


Coming soon? The memorandum was issued in March 2009, and it specifically stated “Within 120 days from the date of this memorandum, the Director shall develop recommendations for Presidential action designed to guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch.”

For the record, we’re about one year past those 120 days, and we’re finally considering “augmentation”? How about some implementation?

By itself, this would seem to be an oversight: it’s a big government, and stuff happens. But when you look at the delays in nominees, well, for everything (and it’s not just the Senate’s fault; the administration isn’t trying on a lot of these), I start to wonder if the administration–including the Big Fella at the top–is actually interested in governing. Implementing your own guidelines isn’t hard to do, and Congress has a hard time mucking it up.

The alternative, which is equally distressing, is that the management style of the White House, which seems to be very centralized in the White House, is overwhelmed, and thus, dysfunctional.

If the memorandum had been taken seriously, the administration would have grounds to move some burrowers out. Less hope please, more doing your fucking job.