Today we announce the new website for Neutral Source. It contains almost all of the content we have published since our first post on March 15, 2006. Over the years, technology has improved by leaps and bounds but we were stuck in the proprietary world of a platform that became too expensive to maintain, never mind improve. Our new site is based on the open-source WordPress platform.
Category Archives: Welcome, New Readers
Neutral Source has not posted since May. The reason is managing editor Richard Belzer underwent a total knee replacement. Pre-surgical expectations for the pace of recovery were overly optimistic. It turns out that sitting at a desk has been much more difficult than expected.
Richard Belzer is managing director of Neutral Source, Inc. and managing editor of neutralsource.org, our eponymous blog. Neutral Source is a nonprofit public charity under IRC section 501(c)(3).
He also is president of Regulatory Checkbook, a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that performs research and sponsors educational programs related to regulatory science, economics, peer review and information quality.
From 1998-2001, Belzer was visiting professor of public policy at Washington University in St. Louis and regulatory program manager for the university’s Center for the Study of American Business. From 1988-1998, Belzer was a civil service staff economist in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the Office of Management and Budget. OIRA is the president’s agent for regulatory oversight, administration of the Paperwork Reduction Act, and implementation of government-wide policies on information quality. While at OMB, Belzer earned division performance awards in 1991 and 1992, and a special achievement award in 1990.
Belzer has earned degrees in public policy (Ph.D., Harvard University 1989; M.P.P.. John F. Kennedy School of Government 1982) and agricultural economics (M.S., University of California, Davis 1980; B.S. University of California, Davis 1979). He is a member of the American Economic Association, the American Public Health Association, and the Society for Risk Analysis. He served as SRA’s elected Treasurer from 1998-2002; Past Treasurer in 2003; and in 2003 received the Society’s Outstanding Service Award.
Neutral Source opened for business on the Ides of March 2006.
Our mission is to provide a forum for discussion and debate about the scientific and economic information lurking behind regulatory polices and decisions. Where these policies and regulations are well-grounded in science and economics, we promote them as ideals worthy of emulation throughout public policy. Where they are not, we make evidence of error widely accessible to technical and nontechnical audiences alike.
Scientific and economic information disseminated by federal regulatory agencies is subject to information quality standards issued in 2002 by the Office of Management and Budget. Since then, federal agencies have had a legal obligation to ensure that the information they disseminate is objective and provide administrative means for the public to correct error.In 2005, OMB issued supplementary guidance on peer review intended to reduce the incidence of these errors.
A public policy revolution began in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan issued Executive order 12,291. For the first time, federal regulatory agencies had a legal obligation to use science and economics to inform their decisions. When President Bill Clinton issued Executive order 12,866 in 1993, it proved that the cause of reasoned regulatory decision-making informed by science and economics was a bipartisan goal.
From the outset, regulatory agencies became monopoly providers of the scientific and economic information use to make regulatory decisions. Economics teaches that monopolies are undesirable because they provide too little product, they charge too much for what they produce, and quality suffers because they do not experience the discipline of competition. These lessons are as true for the public sector as they are for any private sector industry, and for this reason the promise of the public policy revolution has not been realized.
The next public policy revolution will inject competition into the supply side of the market for regulatory science and economics, and Neutral Source is its vanguard. Regulatory alternatives will be developed through a competitive democratic process that welcomes instead of discourages stakeholder participation. The effects of these alternatives will be studied and estimated by competing interests, for they have the strongest incentive to discover and expose scientific and economic error and bias.