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OMB Issues Final Peer Review Guidance
On December 15, 2004, the Office of Management and Budget issued its Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review of "influential scientific information." The Bulletin defines "influential scientific information" as "scientific information the agency reasonably can determine will have or does have a clear and substantial impact on important public policies or private sector decisions."

The Bulletin establishes various minimum peer review requirements for all non-exempt influential scientific information. It imposes the strictest requirements on "highly influential scientific assessments."

The Bulletin explains that a "scientific assessment is an evaluation of a body of scientific or technical knowledge that typically synthesizes multiple factual inputs, data, models, assumptions, and/or applies best professional judgement to bridge uncertainties in the available information."

The Bulletin considers a "scientific assessment" to be "highly influential" if "the agency or the OIRA [OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs ] Administrator determines that the dissemination could have a potential impact of more than $500 million in any one year on either the public or private sector or that the dissemination is novel, controversial, or precedent-setting, or has significant interagency interest."

The Bulletin requires federal agencies to post on their web sites a peer review agenda and to update the agenda every six months. The agendas must describe all planned and ongoing "influential scientific information" that is subject to the Bulletin's peer review requirements, and provide other details specified by the Bulletin. The peer review information on an agency's web site agenda is described as a "Peer Review Plan." Agencies must allow public comment on the adequacy of their Peer Review Plans.

With regard to effective dates, the Bulletin applies to all covered "information disseminated on or after six months following publication of [the] Bulletin, except that [the Bulletin] does not apply to information for which an agency has already provided a draft report and an associated charge to peer reviewers."

The peer review agenda requirement does not apply until one year after the Bulletin's publication date, unless the agenda item is a "highly influential scientific assessment." The agenda requirements apply to all information in this category within six months of publication of the Bulletin.

OIRA, in consultation with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will oversee implementation of the Bulletin.

OMB published the Bulletin under the Data Quality Act and other enabling authorities.

  • Click to read final OMB Peer Review Bulletin.