Top U.S. Scientific Misconduct Official Quits in Frustration With Bureaucracy
The director of the U.S. government office that monitors scientific misconduct in biomedical research has resigned after 2 years out of frustration with the “remarkably dysfunctional” federal bureaucracy. David Wright, director of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), writes in a scathing resignation letter obtained by ScienceInsider that the huge amount of time he spent trying to get things done made much of his time at ORI “the very worst job I have ever had.”
In his letter, David Wright writes that working with ORI’s “remarkable scientist-investigators” was “the best job I’ve ever had.” But that was only 35% of his job; the rest of the time he spent “navigating the remarkably dysfunctional HHS bureaucracy” to run ORI. Tasks that took a couple of days as a university administrator required weeks or months, he says. He writes that ORI’s budget was micromanaged by more senior officials, and that Koh’s office had a “seriously flawed” culture, calling it “secretive, autocratic and unaccountable.” For example, he told Wanda Jones, Koh’s deputy, that he urgently needed to appoint a director for ORI’s division of education. Jones told him the position was somewhere on a secret priority list of appointments. The position has not been filled 16 months later, David Wright notes.
These are the people who police transparency, see?
From Nature Colin MacIlwain,
The administration of US President Barack Obama needs to get a grip on this before an explosive high-profile case — such as that of Andrew Wakefield and MMR vaccines in the United Kingdom — turns up and the ORI can’t cope. If the administration doesn’t do this, Congress just might. Senator Chuck Grassley (Republican, Iowa) demanded in February that the ORI explain its lenient treatment of Dong-Pyou Han, a physician at Iowa State University in Ames, who was banned from seeking NIH funding for three years after falsifying data in AIDS vaccine trials that cost the agency US$19 million.
It is not known how much Grassley’s strident demand for answers contributed to Wright’s departure. But attention from one of the most feared and respected voices on Capitol Hill can only intensify the political hot-house atmosphere that his resignation letter blames for the ORI’s troubles.
It’s always the fault of the people who started to complain.
Here’s Retraction Watch on the story.
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