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OMB Peer Review Proposal Threatens Regulatory Science

John Graham, the Administrator of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), is attempting to impose White House control on regulatory science through requirements for mandatory peer review prior to dissemination of information by federal agencies. Last September, OIRA issued a draft peer review proposal that shocked the scientific and academic communities by labeling as biased all potential peer review panel members who receive public funds for their research, while minimizing the conflict of interest posed by receipt of funding from regulated industries.  In response to widespread outcry against the proposal from a bipartisan group of former high-level regulatory officials, members of Congress, and numerous public interest, scientific and academic organizations, OIRA issued a revised draft in April that tones down somewhat the overt political control and stark pro-industry bias of the original.  However, the revised draft bulletin still lacks adequate protection against political influence and industry pressure.  No need has been demonstrated for government-wide mandatory peer review procedures which will lead to unnecessary and costly delay in the development of needed new safeguards.  Unfortunately, impeding health, safety and environmental protections appears to be the true intent behind the proposal.

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