The House and Senate are reportedly readying legislation that will adopt at least some of the recommendations of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, which released its final report earlier today.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, who sponsored legislation creating the commission, both indicated at today’s event that further legislation is being drafted to implement some of the commission’s recommendations. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has scheduled a hearing next Tuesday, September 12. Legislation could move as early as the next two weeks.
The commission’s report includes 22 recommendations (see below) to increase evaluator access to data while simultaneously protecting privacy. The commission’s recommendations were approved unanimously by all 15 commissioners. Its members were appointed by congressional and administration leaders of both political parties, with five commissioners serving as experts on privacy.
The commission’s efforts on privacy drew particular praise at today’s event. Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, complimented the commissioners for the report’s “depth on privacy issues.”
The centerpiece of the commission’s recommendations is a proposal to create a new office that would act as a liaison to pre-approved researchers, helping them gain access to high-quality data sets. The office, called the National Secure Data Service, would be housed at the Commerce Department alongside the Census Bureau.
At least two bills appear likely to flow from the recommendations. The first, expected to move as early as this month, would include at least some of the commission’s least controversial items. More controversial proposals, which could involve changes to data and privacy laws, would be addressed in other legislation later this year or next.
At this point, it is unclear which recommendations will be included in the first bill. The proposed National Secure Data Service seems to be a high-priority item, since it would allow the service to staff up while Congress considers additional measures. However, it is unclear if the office will make it into the bill that is expected to move this month.
Other items are likely to be fleshed out in coming months. At today’s announcement, the commission co-chairs also announced that, although the commission itself has expired with the completion of its report, the Bipartisan Policy Center will be providing staffing support for further work.