Goal to Distinguish Science Questions from Policy Debates
Agencies Should Empanel Scientific Advisory Committees Solely of Members with Relevant Scientific Expertise; Improve Disclosure and Transparency
WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A bipartisan panel of top scientific and regulatory experts today released recommendations calling on the White House and federal agencies to make specific changes in the regulatory process to clearly distinguish scientific questions from policy disputes. The report comes from the Science for Policy Project (SPP). A project of the Bipartisan Policy Center, SPP is co-chaired by former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), past chair of the House Science Committee, and Donald Kennedy, former editor of Science; and eleven other ideologically diverse members from business, academia, government and non-profits. The complete list of panel members appears below.
"The fundamental theme of the report is that the Administration needs to put in place procedures to try to distinguish science questions from policy questions," said Boehlert. "Often, policy disputes are cast as fights over science. This damages the credibility of science and obscures the real issues that ought to be debated. For example, how much risk a substance poses to human health or the environment is a science question; how much risk is acceptable is a policy question."
"Our recommendations would make the regulatory process more rigorous and transparent," said Kennedy, who headed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under President Jimmy Carter. "That should lead to better, more thoughtful regulations and greater consensus when the government is considering whether or not to regulate. And perhaps most important, when there are disagreements, officials and the public will have a clearer sense of what they are about."
The report recommends requiring new information when regulations are proposed by agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the FDA, and enhancing the credibility of federal advisory committees to ensure the integrity of science in regulatory policymaking. Many of these recommendations are relevant to the White House and federal agency effort to implement President Obama's March 9, 2009 Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity. An interim version of the SPP report was released in March, and the White House has reviewed that report as part of its work to issue guidelines on scientific integrity and regulatory reform, which are expected soon.
The report's recommendations include:
The report makes detailed recommendations about the formation and use of scientific advisory committees, including setting requirements for disclosure and determining and dealing with conflicts of interest and bias.
The study also focuses on the evaluation of research studies by agencies and scientific advisory committees, and criteria such as peer review, conflicts of interest, sponsor control of research and publication, data availability, and risk and uncertainty.
"The overall purpose of our report," said Kennedy, "is to inaugurate an era in which the science behind regulatory proposals will emerge from a more transparent and credible process. Disagreements over political ideology, economics and values that are at the heart of many regulatory disputes will be debated more openly and fully if these reforms are implemented. Science will be better protected from unwarranted attacks and political values will be more fully debated. Better regulatory policy will protect the public from both needless regulations and from needless dangers."
Boehlert added, "The very fact that this ideologically diverse group was able to reach consensus on specific recommendations for reform shows that the time is ripe for these changes."
The Science for Policy Project is funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and ExxonMobil Foundation. The project was directed by David Goldston, the former chief of staff of the House Science Committee. Copies of the full report are available at www.bipartisanpolicy.org.
Members of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Science for Policy Project:*
HON. SHERWOOD BOEHLERT (co-chair): The Accord Group
DONALD KENNEDY (co-chair): Stanford University
ARTHUR CAPLAN: University of Pennsylvania
LINDA J. FISHER: E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
LYNN R. GOLDMAN: Johns Hopkins University
JOHN D. GRAHAM: Indiana University
DANIEL GREENBAUM: Health Effects Institute
MICHAEL P. HOLSAPPLE: ILSI Health and Environmental Sciences Institute
KEVIN KNOBLOCH: Union of Concerned Scientists
KENNETH OLDEN: City University of New York
ROGER A. PIELKE, JR.: University of Colorado
SHERRI K. STUEWER: Exxon Mobil Corporation
WENDY E. WAGNER: University of Texas
*panelist affiliations listed for identification purposes only.
About the Bipartisan Policy Center:
In 2007, former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell formed the Bipartisan Policy Center(BPC) to develop and promote solutions that can attract the public support and political momentum to achieve real progress. The BPC acts as an incubator for policy efforts that engage top political figures, advocates, academics, and business leaders in the art of principled compromise. For more information, please visit our website: http://www.bipartisanpolicy.org/.
Contact: Paul Bledsoe, (202) 204-2403 firstname.lastname@example.org Additional Contact: Eileen McMenamin, (202) 379-1633 email@example.com
|SOURCE Bipartisan Policy Center|
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