CEI Comments On OMB Proposal: Institute Supports Taxpayers’ Right To Scientific Data

CEI Comments On OMB Proposal: Institute Supports Taxpayers’ Right To Scientific Data

April 06, 1999

Washington, D.C. April 6, 1999 – "In light of the wide-ranging effect of federal regulation, the public should examine the underpinnings of that regulation," stated CEI Environmental Research Assistant Jennifer Zambone, in comments to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). "Thus, agencies should base regulations only on information that is accessible to both the agency and the public, " she continued.

CEI responded to an OMB request for comments on its recent proposal to amend circular A-110 (OMB "circulars" instruct federal agencies on implementation of federal laws). A provision in Omnibus Appropriations Act for FY 1999 mandated that government-funded scientific data be accessible to the public via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) inserted the language because of controversies surrounding regulatory rulemaking based on scientific studies that were not available for public inspection.

The issue has sparked controversy within the scientific community because some have complained that it will affect the privacy of their study participants and undermine scientists’ intellectual property rights. But, Zambone noted, "reliance on published information in rulemaking is good science. Indeed, it is the essence of science. Science requires the exchange of data so that other parties might analyze the conclusions."

"Most scientific organizations had taken few concrete steps to address the issue of data accessibility before the passage of the Shelby provision," Zambone noted. "The scientific community, however, has the opportunity to reclaim its responsibilities," she continued. CEI urges OMB to consider reasonable requests from the scientific community to "increase the precision of the proposed revision and install appropriate protections for researchers and their subjects," while ensuring that they "further the dissemination of the data that underlines federal regulations."

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984 dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information and a copy of Jennifer Zambone’s comments to OMB, contact Emily McGee, director of public relations, at 202-331-1010.