Edward R. Murrow, one of history's most influential broadcast journalists, said:
"To be persuasive, we must be believable;
To be believable, we must be credible;
To be credible, we must be truthful."
I have always felt that his words speak to several fundamental ingredients in the great tradition of success by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Scientific integrity is and must be a key compass point for the organization. Our credibility is grounded in our competency as a science-driven organization.
That is why strengthening our scientific capacity has been my highest priority as Service Director; why we have a strong code of scientific conduct; and why we have a process to investigate and correct issues of scientific integrity.
As a science-driven organization, we have an obligation to foster an environment where the science we produce and use, and the process we employ to make science-based decisions, is robust and of the highest quality. When we do this, history confirms, our decisions stand the best chance of being seen as believable, credible and truthful – within and outside of the Service.
A recent incident involving employees in our Tulsa Ecological Field Office has been profoundly troubling to me personally; as I'm sure it is to every Service employee. The main point to understand in this context is that our scientific integrity process worked the way it is intended. At the recommendation of our Bureau Scientific Integrity Officer, Dr. Rick Coleman, we assembled an independent Scientific Integrity Review Panel, reporting to an independent Responsible Manager. The recommendations resulting from that process have been implemented. Most importantly, we have withdrawn all data and science products that were the subjects of these scientific integrity complaints, and are conducting an internal review to confirm that this data did not shape or influence our actions or decisionmaking. I’ve directed our National Conservation Training Center to complete a rigorous review of all Service training programs to ensure that they are providing employees with effective training and clear expectations concerning matters of scientific integrity. I intend to schedule refresher and lessons learned discussions within the Service Directorate, and will encourage similar discussions within all levels of the organization.