Friday, December 26, 2014

National Science Foundation Charged with "Non-Biomedical Science Perspective"

Rereading the e-mails mysteriously "obtained" by Public Citizen, I noticed that the White House has asked the National Science Foundation “to ensure that the ‘non-biomedical perspective is covered" in the forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), revising the Common Rule. Moreover, NSF "will identify places in the current regulatory text and preamble where edits are necessary to make the NPRM consistent with the January 2014 National Academy of Sciences' report that evaluated the applicability of the ideas presented in the 2011 ANPRM to the social and behavioral sciences."

[Margo Schwab to Andrea Palm, “Annotated draft reg text for Common Rule,” 29 October 2014, reproduced in Michael Carome, “Letter to Secretary Burwell Re: Common Rule NPRM,” November 20, 2014.]

This strikes me as hopeful news. The January 2014 report, though lacking in some respects, makes some sound recommendations for reform. And the NSF, which played only a minor part in writing the 1981 and 1991 regulations, is given a greater role in this round. As the sponsor of a great deal of social science research, NSF is indeed better positioned to take on this role than HHS or any other Common Rule agency.

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