Getting on the transparency train
Dan Greenberg, author of Science for Sale: The Perils, Delusions and Rewards of Campus Capitalism and blogger at the Chronicle of Higher Education posted a list of information he thinks “should be posted in a public database and maybe even on the front page of the campus newspaper.” Among them – board memberships, consulting gigs of faculty and administrators, research contracts, and institutional financial holdings that may conflict with the work or decisions of the non-profit institution of learning. While scientific research is Mr. Greenberg’s bailiwick, this is a whole-cloth call for transparency across universities, from which he says there is clearly “a great deal to be gained” in the public interest. (And maybe now Harvard will call him back).
Forget the front page of campus papers — national headline-maker The New York Times has been spending some serious inches in the last week on the less-than-transparent aspects of dealings between doctors and drug and device companies.
“New Focus of Inquiry into Bribes: Doctors,” March 22, 2008
“Countering the Drug Salesmen,” March 20, 2008
“Our Daily Meds,” Book Review, March 17, 2008
And that’s just last week. With newsrooms digging this stuff up at a faster and faster rate, and legislation on disclosure of payments to doctors now out in both houses of Congress, it seems that universities who get on the transparency train in the ways Greenberg recommends now are much less likely to be left on the tracks if and when further federal action comes down the line.