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Freedom of Information Act Office

IC Directors' Meeting Highlights

January 13, 2002

To: IC Directors
From: Director, Executive Secretariat
Subject: IC Directors Meeting Highlights—December 20, 2001

Dr. Kirschstein led a round of applause for Dr. Gordis, since this was his last IC Directors' meeting. She also introduced Dr. Glen Hanson, who is now serving as Acting Director, NIDA.

I. Preliminary Discussion of NIH Implementation of OMB Information Guidelines

Ms. Thomas explained that these OMB Guidelines took effect October 1. The Guidelines require NIH to have an administrative procedure for complaints NIH may receive about the quality of the information we provide. We must first decide which information falls within the Guidelines, which are supposed to cover only substantive official information with the NIH imprimatur, although the information can come from any part of NIH and consist of any kind of information, including web sites, audiovisual presentations, etc. A proposed list of the types of information we consider to be covered under these guidelines was distributed with the meeting agenda. By April 1 we must have a draft report for public comment. The report must document how we will ensure appropriate quality and describe our procedures for handling complaints. NIH must be in full compliance with the Guidelines by October 2002. Ms. Thomas plans to update NIH's current information policy guidelines and to add a new section on dealing with complaints. She wants to give the ICs the flexibility to respond in the most sensible way. Her office's primary role is to provide advice and guidance. OMB also requires an annual report with the number and types of complaints we receive. Ms. Thomas is working with a small group to review the draft response but she is seeking additional input since the coverage of the Guidelines is so sweeping.

In response to questions, Ms. Thomas clarified that one way to respond to complaints would be to send a letter explaining the process NIH went through to produce this information. She is assuming that NIH can develop its own procedures; there appears to be no requirement for uniformity throughout the government. The group noted that definitions are a problem, and limits should be set on requests to review the actual data behind the information we produce. The group agreed that explaining the process is the best way to respond to complaints and that citing peer review for those publications that are peer reviewed is a particularly good strategy.

II. Data Sharing

Dr. Baldwin noted that NIH has had a long history of sharing research data and tools. A trans-NIH working group developed a short generic statement, Qs and As, and a workbook on data sharing, which were all distributed with the meeting agenda. The statement does not require data sharing, but does make it clear that a data sharing plan—or a rationale for not sharing data—must be a part of the application for support. This provides for input from scientific review and sufficient flexibility to accommodate different disciplines. Dr. Collins said this would give us some leverage in negotiating the terms of an award without trying to jam every research project into the same box. Dr. Baldwin reminded the group that, per the Shelby Amendment, data collected under a grant can be requested under the FOIA. Dr. Cassman said that data sharing is a key issue for R01s, because R01s can have increasingly large bioinformatics components. He believes that a requirement for the PI to address data sharing and for the peer reviewers to comment is appropriate. Dr. Baldwin also supports obtaining the input of the reviewers. Dr. Ehrenfeld recommends this approach as well, although we must tell reviewers how to proceed. There already are a number of factors that reviewers must address but that are not included in determining the priority score of grant applications; data sharing would simply be an additional factor. Dr. Rohrbaugh asked whether a separate policy is needed for the intramural program. Dr. Baldwin assured him that practical guidance will flow from this Statement. She and her group will take another look at the possible need for implementation guidance in light of this discussion.

Dr. Baldwin also raised the issue of training tools related to human embryonic stem cells. The F33 senior fellowships could be used, but currently there are only 19 across NIH, and the stipend is quite low for a senior fellowship. Dr. Baldwin proposed increasing the stipends to $90,000. She will e-mail a proposal to IC Directors and the group will take up the issue after the New Year.

Dr. Baldwin also distributed a printout from the OER web site with an updated Frequently Asked Questions section and other information relevant to human embryonic stem cell research.

Dr. Kirschstein then closed the meeting and continued it as principals only.

Karen Pelham O'Steen
cc: OD Staff

This page last reviewed on September 7, 2011

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