Justice and Law Enforcement:

[Comments on Laws' Applicability to NAS]

B-281390: Published: Nov 24, 1998. Publicly Released: Nov 24, 1998.

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GAO commented on several questions pertaining to the National Academy of Sciences, focusing on whether: (1) the Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 1997 are applicable to the subgroups of the Academy (National Research Council, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine); (2) the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is applicable to the Academy, its subgroups or their advisory panels; and (3) there are statutory or contractual barriers to the release of underlying data by the Academy and its subgroups to federal agencies, Congress or the public. GAO noted that: (1) the 1997 amendments apply to the subgroups of the Academy and thus federal agencies may not use the advice or recommendation of the Academy and its subgroups unless the requirements added by the 1997 amendments are met; (2) FOIA does not apply to the Academy, its subgroups or their advisory panels; and (3) other than criminal statutes that prohibit the disclosure of national security type information, federal laws generally do not directly bar private entities like the Academy from releasing data; however, contractual provisions with government agencies, private entities or individuals could preclude the Academy's release of the data, and section 15(b) added by the 1997 amendments could also limit the Academy's ability to release documents if their release would disclose matters exempt under FOIA.

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