Open government advocates were outraged when the Department of Health and Human Services decided to cut off access to The National Practitioner Data Bank, a data set that has long been used to investigate lax oversight of physicians. After criticism by multiple organizations, the department relented and put the data bank back online.
However, with the return of the data came a new set of restrictions that sharply limit how journalists can use that data to inform investigations and stories. These restrictions make the data all but useless for most journalists.
In response, representatives from IRE, the National Association of Science Writers, the National Freedom of Information Coalition, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the National Conference of Editorial Writers, and the Society of Professional Journalists have written the following letter to Secretary Sebelius protesting the new restrictions.