Join
Search

Posts Tagged ‘open records laws’

Willie Soon, Academic Freedom, and How We Can Deal With Undisclosed Conflicts of Interest

In the last week, the Internet has blown up. There were llamas, dresses, and bird-riding weasels. But what also blew up was an important discussion about conflict of interest disclosure and what information academic scientists should be expected to make public. Above all else, the debate has made clear that conflict of interest disclosure rules are lacking and that we need clarity from Congress, scientific societies, and academic institutions on how these issues should be addressed. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Rep. Grijalva’s Requests and the Real Problem with Conflict of Interest Disclosure

On Tuesday, Arizona’s U.S. representative Raul Grijalva asked seven academics for their sources of funding and earlier drafts of testimony they have delivered before congressional committees. Since then, many have debated whether the requests cross the line into harassment or witch hunts or McCarthyism. Lost in the discussion around whether the requests are too broad is a bigger question to address: Why don’t we already know who funds the work of those who testify before Congress? Read More

Bookmark and Share

What Kinds of Scrutiny of Scientists are Legitimate?

This morning, Rep. Raul Grijalva sent letters to seven universities seeking documents related to academics who have testified before Congress on climate change. The requests come in the wake of revelations over the weekend that the Smithsonian Institution agreed not to disclose payments from the Southern Company, a major utility, to fund and review the work of Smithsonian aerospace engineer Willie Soon. As all of the researchers in question have been critical of mainstream climate science, some are wondering if Rep. Grijalva’s requests can be considered a witch hunt. So is it? Read More

Bookmark and Share

No Scientist Should Face Harassment. Period.

Last week, UCS released a report detailing the cases of many scientists who have been the targets of open record requests filed by their critics. These attacks have come from the left (e.g., gay marriage) and from the right (e.g., climate change). That same week, Science reported that an advocacy group had submitted extensive open records requests to multiple universities for significant portions of the email correspondence of several scientists who work in genetic engineering. On whether this constitutes harassment, it’s worth revisiting what should be disclosed and what should not. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Twenty Years of Open Records Attacks

University of Minnesota environmental scientist Deborah Swackhamer studied toxaphene, a chemical once considered a promising replacement for DDT but eventually found to be quite toxic. But when Swackhamer joined a group of researchers exploring why there might be unusual concentrations of the chemical in the Great Lakes, the university received the largest open records request ever made in Minnesota. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Seeking Stories of Abuse of Open Records Laws

Have you or your university or government colleagues been targeted with intrusive federal or state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests? If so, I’d like to hear from you. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Remembering Rick Piltz, Scientific Integrity Advocate

Rick Piltz, founder of Climate Science Watch and revered whistleblower who exposed political interference in climate science, succumbed to cancer over the weekend. He took a brave and unusual path from civil servant to scientific integrity advocate and climate activist that inspired many of us. His memory will continue to motivate me and many others to work tirelessly for a better world where science more freely informs public policy. Read More

Bookmark and Share

More High Profile FOIA Requests at the University of Virginia

The University of Virginia is facing another high-profile open records request, this time from LGBT rights organizers on the political left. Fortunately, UVa has set a highly visible precedent in terms of how it should respond to a Freedom of Information Act request, and has a Virginia Supreme Court decision to back it up. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Virginia Supreme Court Unanimously Supports Academic Freedom at the University of Virginia

The Supreme Court of Virginia today found unanimously in favor of the University of Virginia in its attempt to protect its employees from unwarranted intrusions into their privacy through the commonwealth’s Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA). In doing so, the Court rebuffed efforts by the American Tradition Institute (ATI) to gain access to the private correspondence of UVa researchers. The Court’s decision signals to scientists at public universities that the pursuit of scientific knowledge will be protected in Virginia, no matter how their research results might be received. Read More

Bookmark and Share