Ensure that all publicly-funded research conducted by private parties, universities, and nonprofit organizations is made available to the public in order to encourage public oversight, sound science, and a transparent regulatory process.
Summary of the Issue
Each year federal agencies issue approximately 4,000 new regulations. The annual cost of federal regulations is estimated to be $1.1 trillion. Research conducted by private parties, universities, and nonprofit organizations frequently serves as the basis for these costly federal regulations, especially in the areas of environmental protection, health care, and occupational safety. All too frequently, however, the underlying data collected by these outside parties are not made available to the public because of proprietary restrictions placed on their dissemination and use. This means the public is unable to evaluate whether the data are based on sound, reliable science and analytical models.
Congress passed the Data Access Law to require that all publicly-funded research conducted by private parties, universities, and nonprofit organizations that is also used or relied upon by federal agencies to support a regulation must be made available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. Following passage of the Data Access Law, the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) issued final guidelines intended to fully implement this law. However, the OMB guidelines limit the scope of coverage to information used in final agency rules and only to information from grants awarded after October 1999.
U.S. Chamber Strategy
- Use the Data Access Law to obtain access to publicly-funded, third-party information that federal agencies use or rely upon in the regulatory process.
- Evaluate whether such information is based upon sound science and rigorous technical analysis.
- Consider litigation against federal agencies that refuse to provide access to information covered by the law.
- Convince OMB to expand its guidelines to cover all publicly-funded, third-party information.
- Lead the fight to ensure that the Data Access Law is not repealed.
Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs Division