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Publication date: July 27, 2005


When it comes to information access, can there be too much of a good thing? That question was raised this month by four authors looking at the obscure 1998 law known as the Data Access Act.

The Data Access Act (see PL 105-277 and OMB Circular A-110) makes all raw data produced by federally funded research available for public review. It was the brainchild of Jim Tozzi, the same OMB lobbyist who claims to have invented the Data Quality Act. In a recent special issue of the American Journal of Public Health, Lisa Bero, Annamaria Baba, Daniel M. Cook, and Thomas O. McGarity examine how the access law has been used — mainly, they say, as a tool for industry to challenge government-sponsored research on threats to public health.

Bero and colleagues write that research by industry on environmental health topics does not face such stringent legal requirements for access and quality. They propose a novel solution: new legislation extending the same requirements to the research industry submits in the regulatory arena.