October 27, 2010 – Washington, D.C. The federal government relies on scientific studies to craft regulations intended to protect the health and safety of American workers, the general public, and our environment. But amid charges of ideology-driven agendas and politicization of science, already-tenuous public faith in the regulatory process can easily be lost.
What can be done to improve the process, to ensure that the widest possible range of knowledge and expertise is utilized, that conflicts of interest and inappropriate influence are minimized, and that science is used appropriately to help inform public policy? This event explored ways to make the regulatory process more open, consistent, and credible to all stakeholders.
Josh Trapani, Susan Wood, Michael Holsapple, Carol Henry, and Jennifer Sass made up the distinguished panel of experts that were brought together to explore this question and more on October 27. Paul E. Almeida introduced the session. To watch a video of each speaker and of the discussion with the panelists, and for more information, click here.
Whistleblowers and OSHA: Strengthening Professional Integrity
May 11, 2010
Presentation and discussion, 12:30 – 2 p.m.
Transcript: Dr. Michaels’ remarks, courtesy of OSHA
The Whistleblower Protection Program in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces whistleblower provisions in 17 federal statutes. The provisions aim to protect workers outside the federal government who disclose illegal practices in industries from nuclear power to securities to consumer products and others. Agencies other than the Department of Labor enforce the basic provisions of 16 of those 17 statutes.
A January 2009 Government Accountability Report noted the “increasing caseloads” and “case complexity” confronting the whistleblower program at every level. It cited “two key challenges” for OSHA: maintaining the quality of investigations and providing adequate resources for investigators. It did not directly question, however, whether the statutory structure makes sense.
How is the Whistleblower Protection Program working now? How do its challenges relate to its responsibilities across so many complex and specialized statutes and industries? How could other approaches strengthen the protections for whistleblowers in the interests of the public?
Dr. David Michaels
David Michaels, PhD, MPH, is Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, an epidemiologist and a nationally recognized leader in the scientific community’s efforts to protect the integrity of the science on which public health and environmental policies and regulation are based. Before coming to OSHA on December 9, 2009, he was Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, directing the department’s Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy.
From 1998 to 2001, Dr. Michaels served as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health. In that position, he was the chief architect of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, the historic initiative to compensate nuclear weapons workers who contracted occupational illnesses as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium and other hazards. The program has provided more than $5 billion in payments to sick workers and the families of deceased workers.
In 2006, Dr. Michaels was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award, and, in 2009, the John P. McGovern Science and Society Award given by Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, for his work in scientific integrity and for gaining compensation for nuclear weapons workers.
Dr. Michaels is the author of many scientific and policy publications, including Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s War on Science Threatens Your Health (Oxford University Press, 2008). He is a graduate of the City College of New York, and holds a Master in Public Health and PhD from Columbia University.
Albert H. (Al) Teich is Director of Science & Policy Programs at AAAS, a position he has held since 1990. He is responsible for the Association’s activities in science and technology policy and serves as a key spokesperson on science policy issues. Science and Policy Programs, which includes activities in ethics, law, science and religion, and human rights, as well as science policy, has a staff of 40 and a annual budget exceeding $10 million. He also serves as director of the AAAS Archives.
Teich received his bachelor’s degree in physics and his PhD in political science, both from M.I.T. Prior to joining the AAAS staff in 1980, he held positions at George Washington University, the State University of New York, and Syracuse University. Al is the author of numerous articles and editor of several books, including Technology and the Future, the most widely used college textbook on technology and society, the eleventh edition of which was published in 2008 by Cengage Learning.
He is a Fellow of AAAS and the recipient of the 2004 Award for Scientific Achievement in Science Policy from the Washington Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the editorial advisory boards to the journals, Science Communication; Science, Technology, and Human Values; Prometheus; Review of Policy Research; and Renewable Resources and has been a consultant to government agencies, national laboratories, industrial firms, and international organizations. He is the immediate past president of the Washington Academy of Sciences; past chair of the Board of Governors of the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation, where he remains a member of the executive committee; a member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Maine Space Grant Consortium; the Norwegian Research and Technology Forum in the United States; the Advisory Board of the University of Virginia’s Department of Science, Technology and Society; the External Research Advisory Board of the University of California, Davis; and the Council of Advisors for Research and Innovation Strategy of the National University of Singapore.
Teich is married to Jill H. Pace, executive director of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. He has three children and four grandchildren. He is an accomplished amateur photographer, has published photographs in a number of books and magazines, and has had shows at the Black & White Gallery in Arlington, Virginia, in 2005, in the AAAS Science and Art Exhibition Gallery in 2006, and at the Penn Place Gallery in Garrett Park, Maryland, in August-September 2008. One of his photographs was also included in an exhibit in the American Folk Art Museum in New York City, from April through September 2009.
Paul E. Almeida
Paul E. Almeida is the president of the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE), a coalition of 23 national unions representing some 4 million highly skilled professional and technical workers. Prior to joining DPE in 2001, Mr. Almeida served as president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), a position he held since 1994.
Mr. Almeida received his degree in engineering from Franklin Institute of Boston and was employed by Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation in Boston from 1971 – 1994. During that time, he worked as a Senior Electrical Designer, and was IFPTE’s Local 105 Divisional President, a position he served in until 1994.
Mr. Almeida currently serves on several policy committees of the AFL-CIO including: Vice Chair of the immigration committee; and member of the education and training; legislative/public policy; international affairs; organizing; strategic approaches; and women workers committee. Mr. Almeida is a board member of the Albert Shanker Institute, the Council for Adult & Experiential Learning (CAEL), the Labor Advisory Board of American Income Life, and the Volunteer Services Advisory Committee at Children’s National Medical Center. He is also past board member of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA) and the Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy to the U.S. Trade Representative.
Photos from the event:
When health care facilities respond to financial or political pressures in ways that adversely affect professional care and integrity, how should the professionals respond? What measures might policymakers, administrators, professionals, associations and unions take to protect professional integrity against external pressures?
- Dr. Linda Green, MD, Associate Program Director, Prince George’s Hospital Center
- Dawn M. Hobdy, LICSW, Manager of the Office of Ethics and Professional Review at the National Association of Social Workers, Washington D.C.
- David M. Keepnews, PhD, JD, RN, FAAN, associate professor in the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing at Hunter College, City University of New York.
- Moderator: Bob Edwards, Host of “The Bob Edwards Show,” Sirius/XM Radio
Dr. Linda Green
Dr. Linda Green is Associate Program Director at Prince George’s Hospital Center where she teaches internal medicine and is attending physician for patients in the hospital and at the Glen Ridge Clinic in Lanham, Maryland. She has a particular interest in HIV/AIDS and is active in the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association’s Disparities Committee. Prior to coming to Prince George’s Hospital Center she was an oncologist at Group Health Association and on the faculty at Howard University. Dr. Green is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology. She attended Duke University College of Medicine and trained at the New York Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Dawn M. Hobdy
Dawn M. Hobdy, LICSW, is the Manager of the Office of Ethics and Professional Review at the National Association of Social Workers, located in Washington D.C. After 7 years experience in clinical practice in a long term care setting and program development in ethics education, Ms. Hobdy joined NASW as the Senior Professional Review Associate in March 2002, and assumed responsibility for directing the program in 2003. As the manager, she develops and provides ethics training to NASW Chapters, national leadership units, and to the broader social work community. In addition, she conducts weekly ethics consultations to members of the association. Ms. Hobdy is also responsible for the facilitation of the NASW peer review process. In her spare time, Ms. Hobdy, a certified Mediator, provides mediation/conflict resolution in the state of Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC. Ms. Hobdy received her Masters in Social Work degree from Howard University with a specialization in gerontology, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Syracuse University.
David M. Keepnews
David M. Keepnews, PhD, JD, RN, FAAN is an associate professor in the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing at Hunter College, City University of New York. He is Editor-in-Chief of Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice, a quarterly journal focusing on nursing and health policy. Dr. Keepnews has written and spoken widely on a range of topics related to nursing and health policy, with a particular focus on health care workforce issues. His teaching and research have focused on health policy, law and ethics.
Dr. Keepnews has previously served as director of policy development for the New York Academy of Medicine, director of policy for the American Nurses Association, regulatory policy specialist for the California Nurses Association and assistant regional counsel for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He has practiced as a staff nurse in San Francisco and New York. Dr. Keepnews is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and the New York Academy of Medicine.
Bob Edwards, Moderator
Bob Edwards is the First National Vice President of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). He hosts “The Bob Edwards Show” on XM Satellite Radio and “Bob Edwards Weekend,” distributed by Public Radio International (PRI). Both feature in-depth interviews with newsmakers and others.
Edwards hosted National Public Radio’s (NPR) “Morning Edition” for 24-and-a-half years. He was co-host of NPR’s evening news magazine, “All Things Considered,” until 1979 when he helped launch “Morning Edition.”
Edwards is the author of two books: “Fridays with Red,” about his radio friendship with legendary sportscaster Red Barber, and “Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism.” He has been honored with the duPont-Columbia Award for radio journalism, the George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting and the Edward R. Murrow Award for outstanding contributions to public radio. In 2004, he received an AFTRA Media and Entertainment Excellence Award in Broadcasting and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.