In order to encourage discussion and debate on the Data Access issue, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Federal Focus, Inc. jointly sponsored a symposium on the Data Access issue on February 26, 1999, in Washington, D.C. Specific focus of the discussion was on the data provisions contained in the FY 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act (P.L. 105-277) and conference report. Under that Act, OMB was required to amend its Circular A-110 (“Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations”) to make publicly-funded research data available to the public through requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Panelists from a variety of key organizations participated in the symposium, including:
- Office of Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL)
- House Science Committee
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- University of Chicago
- Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology
- Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Approximately 175 members of the interested public were also in attendance, representing the federal government, academia, various associations, industry, the media, and others from the scientific community.
The AAAS-Federal Focus Data Access symposium was truly a seminal event in the overall Data Access debate due to the capacity crowd (approximately 175 participants) and the broad range of participants. The issues were thoroughly aired in terms of identifying problems to be addressed with implementation of the Data Access provisions called for under the statute. Examples of such issues include confidentiality concerns, commingling of data, assessment of user fees, and coverage of the term “data.”