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®: CRE Regulatory Action of the Week

Two Views on Data Amendments
Donald Hornstein and Iain Murray have published articles presenting two very different views on what Mr. Hornstein calls "academic capitalism" and the "Data Amendments."

Writing in Law and Contemporary Problems, which is published by Duke University, Mr.Hornstein criticizes the Data Amendments for many reasons. "Data Amendments" is Mr. Hornstein's term for the Shelby Amendment and the Data Quality Act. The Shelby Amendment requires public access to the data underlying most studies that are federally funded. The Data Quality Act requires that most information disseminated to the public by federal agencies meet specified quality standards. Transparency is one of the most important standards imposed by the Data Quality Act.

Mr. Hornstein does not believe that federal agencies should be required to meet these quality standards, and he does not believe that federal agencies should regulate only on the basis of data that are publicly available. Mr. Hornstein argues that the Data Amendments are merely another example of corporate America's undue influence over the science that agencies use to regulate. He believes that this "academic capitalism" causes bad science.

Mr. Murray has a different point of view. Writing for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Mr. Murray points out that the federal government is funding less scientific research than before and that private corporations have largely filled the science funding gap. Mr. Murray argues that the most efficient and practical way to ensure that agencies use reliable science is to require transparency, which is a primary requirement of the Data Amendments. Once the public has access to the data and all other essential elements of a scientific study, then the public can double check the study by trying to replicate its results. Mr. Murray thinks that transparency and replication have always been critical to producing good science. He also thinks that the Data Amendments help achieve this goal.

CRE agrees with Mr. Murray. It matters little who pays for the science agencies use. The critical need is always for that science to be public. Secret science inevitably leads to bad science and bad regulations. The Data Amendments help achieve good science and good regulations by requiring an open scientific and regulatory process.

  • Click for Hornstein article.
  • Click for Murray article.