Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Diverse Policy Experts Report To Improve Regulatory Decision-Making

Sep 18: Scientists and policy experts from industry, government, and nonprofit sectors reached consensus on ways to improve the rigor and transparency of regulatory decision-making in a report being released today (September 18, 2012). The Research Integrity Roundtable, a cross-sector working group convened and facilitated by The Keystone Center, an independent public policy organization, is releasing the new report to improve the scientific analysis and independent expert reviews which underpin many important regulatory decisions. The report, Model Practices and Procedures for Improving the Use of Science in Regulatory Decision-Making, builds on the work of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) in its 2009 report Science for Policy Project: Improving the Use of Science in Regulatory Policy.

    Mike Walls, Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs for the American Chemistry Council (ACC), one of the sponsors of the Keystone Roundtable, "Americans need to have confidence in a U.S. regulatory system that encourages rational, science-based decision-making. For this report, a broad spectrum of stakeholders came together to identify and help resolve some of the more troubling inconsistencies and roadblocks at the intersection of science and regulatory policy."

    A release from ACC indicates that controversies surrounding a regulatory decision often arise over the composition and transparency of scientific advisory panels and the scientific analysis used to support such decisions. The Roundtable's report is the product of 18 months of deliberations among experts from advocacy groups, professional associations and industry, as well as liaisons from several key Federal agencies. The report centers on two main public policy challenges that lead to controversy in the regulatory process: appointments of scientific experts, and the conduct of systematic scientific reviews.

    The Roundtable's recommendations aim to improve the selection process for scientists on Federal advisory panels and the scientific analysis used to draw conclusions that inform policy. The report seeks to maximize transparency and objectivity at every step in the regulatory decision-making process by informing the formation of scientific advisory committees and use of systematic reviews. The Roundtable's report offers specific recommendations for improving expert panel selection by better addressing potential conflicts of interest and bias. In addition, the report recommends ways to improve systematic reviews of scientific studies by outlining a step-by-step process, and by calling for clearer criteria to determine the relevance and credibility of studies.

    Francesca Grifo, Senior Scientist and Science Policy Fellow for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) said, "Conflicted experts and poor scientific assessments threaten the scientific integrity of agency decision making as well as the public's faith in agencies to protect their health and safety. Given the abundance of inflamed partisan dialogue around regulatory issues, it was refreshing to be a part of a rational and respectful roundtable. If adopted by agencies, the changes recommended in the report have the potential to reduce the ability of narrow interests to weaken regulations' power to protect the public good."

    Members of the Roundtable include: Richard Becker, American Chemistry Council; Raymond Garant, American Chemical Society; David Goldston, Natural Resources Defense Council; Francesca Grifo, Union of Concerned Scientists; Michael Holsapple, Battelle Health & Life Sciences Global Business; Janet Mostowy, Bayer Material Science, LLC; J. Craig Rowlands, The Dow Chemical Company; and Robert Rickard, DuPont SHE & Sustainable Growth Cent. Government Liaisons included: Bruce Androphy, National Institutes of Health; Howard Gadlin, National Institutes of Health; Oscar Hernandez, Environmental Protection Agency; Annie Jarabek, Environmental Protection Agency; Dennis Keefe, Food and Drug Administration; and Alan Thornhill, Department of the Interior.

    The Keystone Center and members of the Research Integrity Roundtable welcome additional conversations and dialogue on the matters explored in and recommendations presented in this report. Founded in 1975, The Keystone Center is an independent nonprofit organization that brings together public, private, and civic sector leaders. The Center provides mediation and facilitation services that incorporate innovative decision-making methods. The result: action-oriented, sustainable solutions to complex energy, environmental, and public health issues.

    Access the 51-page report (click here). Access the 2009 BPC report (click here). Access the Keystone Center website for the report with additional information (click here). Access the release Center (click here). [#All]

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