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 Irregularities in Appointments to Scientific Advisory Panels



Donald Kennedy, editor of the journal Science, former president of Stanford University, and a former FDA commissioner, remarked in early 2003, “I don’t think any administration has penetrated so deeply into the advisory committee structure as this one, and I think it matters. If you start picking people by their ideology instead of their scientific credentials you are inevitably reducing the quality of the advisory group.”8




Dr. D. Allan Bromley, science advisor in the first Bush administration, noted at a meeting of former OSTP directors that nominees are likely to face detailed questioning about their positions on issues ranging from global warming to stem cell research. “There are too many litmus tests,” Bromley asserts.9



Professor Lewis M. Branscomb is a highly regarded scientist who served as director of the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) in the Nixon administration, vice president and chief scientist at IBM, and president of the American Physical Society. Dr. Branscomb recently stated, “I’m not aware that [Nixon] ever hand-picked ideologues to serve on advisory committees, or dismissed from advisory committees very well-qualified people if he didn’t like their views.... What’s going on now is in many ways more insidious. It happens behind the curtain. I don’t think we’ve had this kind of cynicism with respect to objective scientific advice since I’ve been watching government, which is quite a long time.”10




Dr. Lynn Goldman, a pediatrician and professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and former assistant administrator of the EPA, makes the same point emphatically about policymaking in the previous administration: “The Clinton administration did not do this.... They did not exclude people based on some sort of litmus test.” She adds that this kind of activity represents “a threat to the fundamental principle that we want to make decisions based on the best available science.”11

8 As quoted in Zitner, Los Angeles Times.
9 A. Lawler, “Former Advisers Fret over OSTP Vacancy,” Science, May 13, 2002.
10 Christian Science Monitor, January 6, 2004.
11 J.R. Peggs, “Bush Stacking Science Panels,” Environmental News Service, October 9, 2003.

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