The academies’ committee, chaired by University of Texas in Austin President Emeritus Larry Faulkner, had the ear of an influential legislator, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who requested the study. And Alexander made sure its report wasn’t buried. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Alexander was also a key negotiator in hammering out agreements between the Senate and the House of Representatives on the Cures bill unveiled last Friday. And he inserted a five-page section of his own bill creating the research board into the broader legislation.
The new board would be housed within the White House Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) regulatory shop, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Its 20-some members would be divided between representatives of federal agencies that conduct research and those from the research community. In addition to its own reports, the board also would have the authority to ask additional experts for “timely analyses on pressing issues” and for their help “in anticipating future regulatory challenges … emerging from new scientific advances.”