Nature reports the agency has cancelled a plan to require schools to post disclosure information online.
This from Nature News:
The NIH’s parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), proposed the new rule in May 2010, after congressional and media investigations revealed that prominent NIH grant recipients had failed to tell their universities or medical schools about lucrative payments from companies that may have influenced their government-funded research. The DHHS called the proposed websites “an important and significant new requirement to … underscore our commitment to fostering transparency, accountability, and public trust”. Under the proposal, institutions with NIH-funded researchers would determine, grant by grant, if any financial conflicts existed for senior scientists on the grant. For example, these would include receiving consultancy fees, or holding shares in a company, “that could directly and significantly affect the design, conduct, or reporting” of the research. The institutions would post the details online, where they would stay for at least five years.
But a government official with knowledge of the ongoing negotiations on the rule says that the institutions will now be allowed to choose how to disclose this information, and will not be obliged to post it online. This is likely to make it much harder for members of the public to find these details, says Ned Feder, a senior staff scientist with the Project on Government Oversight.