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SST Committee Requests Additional Information on NIEHS Contracts

Sep 27, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent a follow-up letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price requesting additional documents and information on certain National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) contracts with the Ramazzini Institute (RI). Smith sent an initial request on the matter on March 24 and received a limited document production, available here, in response.

The letter states:

“Specifically, the Committee is concerned about the informal nature of the agreements and contracts between NIEHS and RI, the lack of evidence of competition in contracting, and the unjustified continuation of the contracts for 17 years.  The totality of these potential problems require that the Committee continue its oversight efforts.”

“The Committee has a responsibility to ensure that the federal government funds and engages in scientific research free from external pressures and opinions – competition in the marketplace encourages the best value for the taxpayers.  Chief among the Committee’s concerns is the basis for renewing the contract successively for 17 years even after another federal government agency raised questions related to the integrity of scientific work performed by the RI.”

“The Committee is concerned that NIEHS has not fully vetted these issues brought to light by the EPA.  It appears that the annual extension of the contract between NIEHS and RI has become a perfunctory exercise without any evaluation of the merits.” 

The letter can be found here

Background

On March 24, 2017, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology sent its initial request to HHS for documents related to the NIEHS’s contractual relationship with the Ramazzini Institute. On May 16, 2017, HHS provided the committee with a letter and a limited amount of the documents requested.

In 2012, the committee wrote the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding specific Ramazzini studies EPA relied on when conducting chemical risk assessments.  According to the EPA, agency scientists “identified discrepancies in the results of methanol studies conducted by the Ramazzini Institute.” As a result, EPA placed the four draft assessments that relied on the Ramazzini studies on hold, pending further review.

115th Congress