October 26

NIH Rule change Re: Whistle blowers – Comments before June 15

NIH Rule change Re: Whistle blowers – Comments due before June 15

Mon, 19 Apr 2004

Dear friends and colleagues,

A request for comment about NIH proposed new research misconduct rule

See Fed Register:
http://ori.dhhs.gov/multimedia/acrobat/42CFRParts50and93.pdf

The new rule, I believe is meant to protect research institutions from the effective sting of a knowledgeable whistle blower.

The new rule would redefine whistle-blower as “complainant” and would limit the role of the complainant. Under the old rule, the whistle-blower participated in the process helping investigators by leading them to the evidence, etc.

But as I see it, if the whistle blower is prevented from actively reviewing the documents submitted by the institution then more than likely the institutions–that have a financial stake in the research, whether conducted ethically or unethically–will more than likely not be inclined to find a basis for the complaint….

We have to try to stop this rule from being adopted since it would remove even this underutilized safeguard.

The Chronicle of Higher Education notes:
“Institutions would not be required to show reports about their investigations to whistle-blowers, as current policy dictates, although the institutions could share the reports if they wished….It clarifies that the complainant becomes a witness after the initial complaint is filed and does not control the process” of the investigation… In some cases, he said, whistle-blowers have sought such influence. Instead, institutions would retain prime responsibility for conducting investigations, as they do under the existing rule, the proposal states. Universities would be allowed to show complainants the reports to check for accuracy, Mr. Pascal said. ” http://chronicle.com/temp/email.php?id=rgogfuaeozsookl435jo0gpag327b58l

The response of the government to the series of research-related scandals is to remove whatever avenues have been used to promote compliance with ethical standards.

Vera

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
Tel: 212-595-8974


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