Data Rule, Round Two

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Jocelyn Kaiser
1999-08-17 19:00
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Scientific groups seem to be pleased with the White House's latest version of a proposal that would require researchers to give the public access to raw data that federal agencies use to develop regulations. This second attempt (www.whitehouse.gov/OMB/fedreg/2ndnotice-a110.html) is similar to but more detailed than a July draft (Science, 23 July, p. 511), defining data in a way that rules out, for instance, public access to lab samples. It also says the rule applies only to studies published in a "scientific or technical" journal or cited in a regulation.

But even this proposal may not be the final word. Louis Renjel of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says his group is unhappy that researchers--and not just government officials--could withhold information that they think threatens privacy, and that the law would apply only to regulations with an economic impact of at least $100 million. "Completely unacceptable," Renjel says about the new version, which is open for comments until 10 September. To counter the critics, George Leventhal of the Association of American Universities says it's "very important that the academic community weigh in" on the proposal. The final rule is expected to be out by 1 October.

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