New Guidelines on the Use of Scientific Information Issued by OMB

Silencing Science Tracker

New Guidelines on the Use of Scientific Information Issued by OMB

On April 24, 2019, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memorandum setting out new guidelines on the use of “influential scientific, financial, or statistical information” by federal agencies. The memorandum indicates that, when using scientific information to support their policies, agencies should make the research and data underlying that information publicly available. The memorandum states:

“[I]nfluential analysis must be disseminated with sufficient descriptions of data and methods to allow them to be reproduced by qualified third parties who may want to test the sensitivity of agency analyses . . .

Agencies should . . . communicate to the public sufficient information on the characteristics of the data and analysis, including its scope (e.g., temporal and demographic), generation protocols, and any other information necessary to allow the public to reproduce the agencies conclusions . . .

Agencies should prioritize increased access to the data and analytical frameworks (e.g., models) used to generate influential information.”

Critics have expressed concern that the memorandum could have the effect of restricting federal agencies’ access to, and use of, scientific information because many of the studies they currently rely on are based on confidential data that cannot be published. They note that the memorandum appears to be intended to achieve same goals as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s proposed “science transparency rule,” which would have prevented the agency using scientific studies based on non-public data in rulemakings. That rule was heavily criticized, including by former top EPA officials, who emphasized that:

“Some of [the] studies [at issue], particularly those that determine the effects of exposure to chemicals and pollution on health, rely on medical records that by law are confidential because of patient privacy policies. These studies summarize the analysis of raw data and draw conclusions based on that analysis. Other government agencies also use studies like these to develop policy and regulations, and to buttress and defend rules against legal challenges. They are, in fact, essential to making sound public policy.”

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Comments

  • john oconnell says:

    Thank you

  • Kevin Ward says:

    Positive endeavors

  • Paolo Mattiuz says:

    Congratulations for your corageous initiative; it is so sad to become aware that even in the most “democratic” Country of the planet, the scientific method is feared and fought by the establishment.
    Here in Italy, scientific research has almost no funds and has been neglected since decades. The result is that we are falling into a “middle-age attitude” 🙁
    So, go ahead and all the best!!

  • Frederick Stoss, MS, MLS says:

    Will you be expanding coverage to issues other than climate change, such as toxic and chemical wastes (CERCLA/Superfund), water pollution/quality, and agriculture? These would be additional areas where public concerns are high.

    • sabinadmin2 says:

      The tracker covers both climate and other environmental scientists. Entries labelled with “other” in the “scientist affect” column deal with non-climate issues.

  • Joel Dolphin says:

    Thank you so much for doing this.

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