The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) submitted comments supporting a strong, effective, and efficient peer review system to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in response to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on February 3. The NPRM sought to exempt important peer reviewer and peer referee information from public access under the Privacy Act of 1974 (the Act). This action was required because NIH established a new system of records; these peer review documents were previously protected from access under the old system of records.
FASEB strongly supported NIH’s conclusions that peer review information, such as recommendation letters, reviewer critiques, impact/priority score records, and assignment of peer reviewers, qualifies for exemption under the Act. Protecting these documents would ensure that grant referees and reviewers are able to continue to work within a structure that allows them to provide fair, unbiased, and honest assessments of the scientific work of their peers. In addition, FASEB recommended that NIH periodically reassess the information contained within the new system of records to ensure that all appropriate documents are exempt from the Act.