Letter from 17 Congress Members to OMB Director
The Honorable Jacob J. Lew
Dear Mr. Lew:
The Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act For Fiscal Year 1999 (PL 105-277) contains a provision requiring the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to amend Circular A-110 to assure that all federally funded research data will be made available through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). On February 4, 1999, OMB published in the Federal Register a proposed revision to OMB Circular A-110. Under the proposed revision, the public and those impacted by federal rules and policies would be able to obtain federally funded research data from published studies that are used to support a federal rule or policy through the procedures established by the Freedom of Information Act.
We are writing to express our support for the new public access law and our desire to see OMB implement the provision in a manner that is consistent with the law. As taxpayers, the public has a right to access federally funded research data that are not otherwise protected by law from disclosure. Transparency in government is a principle that has improved decision making and increased the public's trust in government. Providing the public with access to federally funded research data will result in a more informed citizenry that is better able to understand the basis of the government's actions and to participate in the policymaking process.
Because of the significance of this provision, and as Members of the Committee that authored the provision, we believe that it is important that OMB follow the clear meaning of the statute and the intent of the law as closely as possible. We continue to believe that the Freedom of Information Act provides an excellent vehicle for providing the public with information. We also believe that OMB should continue to move quickly to implement the provision in a manner that assures the public the broadest access to federally funded research data.
We appreciate your attention to this very important matter.