New & Noteworthy



Archive for October, 2018

22 Oct 2018

National Museum and Library Services Board Meeting Announced

The National Museum and Library Services Board will be meeting on November 1, 2018 to advise the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) on duties, powers, and authority of IMLS relating to museum, library, and information services. The Board will also discuss coordination of activities for the improvement of these services.

The first half of the meeting is open to the public and will begin at 9:00 AM Eastern Time. This will be followed by a closed Executive session. The location for the meeting is 955 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Suite 4000, Washington, DC 20024. Please contact Katherine Maas at kmaas@imls.gov if you would like to attend the public session of the meeting.

For more information visit https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2018-10-17/html/2018-22618.htm.

19 Oct 2018

Interior Announces “Open Science” Policy

The Department of the Interior (DOI) has adopted a new policy it contends will improve transparency and public access to scientific research. The “open science” order was signed by Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on September 28, 2018. Similar to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule “Increasing Transparency in Regulatory Science,” DOI’s order requires that scientific data used in policy decisions be reproducible and made publicly accessible.

“Any decision that is based on scientific conclusions that are not supported by publicly available raw data, analysis, or methodology, have not been peer reviewed, or are not readily reproducible should include an explanation of why such science is the best available information,” states the order. Interior officials said that the policy would boost public confidence in the agency’s decision-making and increase accountability.

“This order came about in response to perennial concerns that the department has not been providing sufficient information to the public to explain how and why it reaches certain conclusions, or that it is cherry picking science to support pre-determined outcomes,” said Interior spokesperson Faith Vander Voort. “The goal is for the department to play with its cards face-up, so that the American people can see how the department is analyzing important public policy issues and be confident that it is using the best information available to inform its decisions.”

The order could restrict how DOI agencies use certain research findings and will set new data disclosure requirements for Interior grant recipients.

The new order allows for exceptions and states that the data requirements may be “waived, in whole or in part, by the Deputy Secretary upon a written determination that a waiver is necessary and the least restrictive means of protecting privacy, confidentiality, including confidential business information and trade secrets; national security, and homeland security.”

The order has been criticized as a move to restrict the use of scientific findings in decision-making at Interior. “The ‘Promoting Open Science’ order signed on Friday should be named the ‘Removing Science from DOI’ order, as it simply slashes agencies’ ability to rely on, conduct and analyze science under a pretense of increased transparency,” said Tina Swanson, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Science Center.

“They want everything publicly accessible, including the raw data, and that just doesn’t happen with peer-reviewed science, because that just doesn’t tell you anything,” said Charise Johnson, a researcher at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It also makes it look like they don’t trust their own scientists’ work.”

Unlike the EPA’s proposed “secret science” rule, which involved a public comment period, DOI’s order became effective immediately.

19 Oct 2018

Congress Averts Government Shutdown

Congress has approved and the President has signed a $853 billion spending package, which includes a stop-gap spending measure to avert a partial government shutdown. The short-term funding measure provides level funding for the government programs for which an appropriations bill had not been passed and signed into law prior to October 1.

The House approved this spending package by a 361-61 vote on September 26. The Senate had approved it a week earlier. President Trump signed the package on September 28 saying, “We’re going to keep the government open.”

The spending package includes fiscal year (FY) 2019 Defense, Labor-Health and Human Services, and Education spending bills along with the stop-gap continuing resolution (CR). The CR provides funding for Interior-EPA, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Financial Services, Commerce-Justice-Science, State-Foreign Operations, and Homeland Security at FY 2018 levels until December 7. There will be a lame-duck session after the November elections to finish work on FY 2019 appropriations.

This is the second spending package that Congress has sent to the President. The first included the Energy-Water, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch spending bills for FY 2019 and was signed into law by President Trump on September 21.