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Publication date: Apr. 21, 2004


The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released on April 15, 2004, a revised version of the Aug. 29, 2003, draft bulletin which would bring peer review of all federal agency science under the supervision of OMB and prevent publication before OMB was satisfied.

The OMB documents describing the revised bulletin asserted that it gave agencies more leeway to run their own peer review processes than did the original. The revised bulletin also seemed to loosen somewhat, from the original, the White House's grip over scientific information disseminated in emergency situations (e.g. whether air was safe to breathe in lower Manhattan after 9/11).

But many other parts of the original bulletin to which objections had commonly been raised by the 187 commenters on the original draft remain substantially unchanged. For example, it still authorizes agencies to let private firms manage their peer review - which exempts the peer review from the openness requirements of the Federal Advisory Committees Act. It also leaves OMB and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy with final say over whether peer review is adequate.

Industry groups, who have criticized the science behind government regulations affecting their bottom lines, generally favored the original draft bulletin. But critics created great stir in the press when a group of Nobel prizewinners complained on Feb. 18, 2004, that the White House was systematically corrupting and suppressing agency science to suit industry supporters.

More recently, top White House science advisor John Marburger dismissed such criticisms, saying "President Bush believes policies should be made with the best and most complete information possible, and expects his Administration to conduct its business with integrity and in a way that fulfills that belief."

Last revised January 22, 2013

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