A recent legal flap that may force the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to open the proceedings of its advisory committees to public scrutiny has focused the attention of researchers and government officials on how advisory panels produce reports. NAS-through its operating arm, the National Research Council (NRC)-is frequently called on to give status reports on various scientific and medical issues and policies, as are advisory panels convened by other agencies. The resulting reports frequently help resolve scientific disputes, gauge the status of research disciplines, examine standards of care, and influence policy and funding decisions.

DO YOUR DUTY: UC-Santa Cruz’s M.R.C. Greenwood believes it’s a scientist’s responsibility to participate in national committees that produce reports.
Because of the potential impact government advisory panels may have, Congress passed the 1972 Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The act states that panels formed to advise the federal government must open their proceedings to...

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