Helping to Make Better Rules

The United States government is examining better ways to support its rulemaking activities – specifically how best to ensure that rulemaking activities are supported by proper facts/evidence. It is seeking comments on a set of questions related to this process. This is an opportunity to (1) take aviation industry best practices and promote their use for other industries, and (2) generally improve the relationship between objective evidence and new regulations supported by such evidence.

Where Did This Come From?

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (Public Law 115–435) requires federal agencies to modernize their data management practices to develop and support evidence-based development of policy. Under the Act, the term “evidence” is drawn from 44 U.S.C. 3561 and means “information produced as a result of statistical activities conducted for a statistical purpose.”

What Questions Need Answers?

An Advisory Committee will be providing advice on how to promote the use of data for evidence building. One of the goals is promoting transparency and facilitate public engagement with the evidence building process. As part of its evaluation, the Advisory Committee wishes to consider public comments. The government has asked for answers to the following question, and I have bolded the questions that I think are most important to the aviation industry:

Central Questions–

1. What are the main challenges faced by national, state/provincial, or local governments that are trying to build a basis for evidence-based policy? Briefly describe the bottlenecks and pain-points they face in the evidence-based decision-making process.

2. What are examples of high-impact data uses for evidence-based policy making that successfully effected change, reduced costs, or improved the welfare of citizens?

3. Which frameworks, policies, practices, or methods show promise in overcoming challenges experienced by governments in their evidence building?

4. The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (See: recommended the creation of a National Secure Data Service (See Commission Report at Do you agree with this recommendation, and if so, what should be the essential features of a National Secure Data Service?

5. How can federal agencies protect individual and organizational privacy when using data for evidence building? Recommend specific actions the Office of Management and Budget and/or other federal agencies can take when using data for evidence building, as well as suggested changes to federal laws, policies, and procedures.

Secure Data Access Questions–

6. If created, how should a data service be structured to best facilitate (1) research and development of secure data access and confidentiality technologies and methods, (2) and agency adoption of those technologies and techniques?

7. Government agencies have argued that secure data access has value because it (1) improves service delivery, (2) improves efficiency (lowers costs), (3) produces metrics for performance measurement, and (4) produces new learnings/insights from the data. Which of these propositions do you agree holds value and why? Do you have examples that demonstrate these benefits? Do you have other examples of the value of secure data access?

Data Services to Federal, State, Local Agencies and the Public Questions–

8. What are the most pressing data needs of state and local decision makers and how would making data accessible from federal agencies help meet those needs? To share data, what guarantees do data owners (or data controllers) need regarding privacy, data stewardship, and retention?

9. What are the key problems and use cases where collaborative work between federal, state, and local authorities’ data analysis can inform decisions? What are key decision support tools? How would greater communication about data and tools benefit expanded evidence building?

Infrastructure for Meeting Public and Evidence Building Needs Questions–

10. What basic public data services are essential for a data service to address existing capacity gaps and needs? What infrastructure or incentives can the federal government create that locals and states cannot?


Comments to the docket must be received by Tuesday, February 9, 2021. Please proffer any member comments to ASA not later than Friday, January 8, 2020 so we can consider your comments in the Association’s response.

About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. Since 1992, he has represented aviation trade associations and businesses that include aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturers, distributors, and repair stations, as well as both commercial and private operators. Blog content published by Mr. Dickstein is not legal advice; and may not reflect all possible fact patterns. Readers should exercise care when applying information from blog articles to their own fact patterns.

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