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Why Agency-Wide Peer Review Guidelines Are Needed
OMB recently released revised peer review guidelines for most federal government agencies. OMB's originally proposed guidelines were very controversial. The revised guidelines seem less so, perhaps because OMB clearly explained the compelling need for government-wide peer review guidance in its response to comments on the proposed guidelines.

Some commenters questioned both the need for peer review guidelines. OMB's response to comments directly addresses and rebuts these comments. It speaks for itself:

    Many commenters suggested that we should better articulate the need for the [peer review guidance] Bulletin. The purpose of this particular Bulletin is to promote the appropriate use of peer review in order to enhance the technical quality and credibility of information disseminated by federal agencies. This may be understood by referring to more than a decade of debate and scholarship on the proper roles of peer review in a regulatory context, as well as the wide variety of authorities who have argued that peer review practices at various federal agencies need to be strengthened.


    Prior to the development of this Bulletin, there were no government-wide standards concerning when peer review is required and, if required, what type of peer review process is appropriate. The Executive Branch also lacked a transparent process for determining the type of peer review that is appropriate for a particular agency report. No formal interagency mechanism exists to foster coss-agency sharing of experiences with peer review practices and policies.
Winston deleted the long footnotes in these passages that support every point made in them. Those footnotes cite one study and report after another emphasizing the need for consistent, improved, and transparent peer review by federal government agencies. These reports and studies span several different Presidential administrations.

One can still disagree with OMB's specific recommendations about how agencies should conduct peer review. Winston is, however, convinced that OMB has made the case that agency-wide guidelines are needed.
  • Click to read OMB's response to comments on proposed peer review guidelines.

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