OMB Revises Science Peer-Review Proposal

In response to a chorus of criticism, the White House Office of Management and Budget yesterday released a revised version of its proposed guidelines on the use and release of scientific information by federal agencies. The original proposal found support from such stalwart believers in pure science as the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, and opposition from such politicized know-nothings as, uh, the scientific community. The new proposal tones down much of the language in the original, allowing for faster release of health-related science without OMB review, and eliminating one of the most controversial portions, which would have favored non-government-funded (i.e., industry-funded) scientists over government-funded scientists on peer-review panels. Many of the original proposal’s critics praised the changes, though some scientific and consumer groups continued to object to certain provisions, including language they said was overtly biased toward industry on such matters as international trade and pharmaceutical development. The Bush administration has faced a series of accusations that it twists and suppresses science for political reasons, and some critics viewed OMB’s proposals as attempts to legitimize the practice.