The National Academy of Sciences was created by the federal government to be an adviser on scientific and technological matters. However, the Academy and its associated organizations (e.g., the Institute of Medicine) are private, non-governmental, organizations and do not receive direct federal appropriations for their work. Studies undertaken for the government by the Academy complex usually are funded out of appropriations made available to federal agencies. Most of the studies carried out by the Academy complex are at the request of government agencies.
The congressional charter mentioned above places the IOM in a unique role. Beyond that, the IOM process establishes it as an independent body, with its use of unpaid volunteer experts who author most reports. Each report must go through the IOM/NRC institutional process, assuring a rigorous and formal peer review process, a requirement that findings and recommendations be evidence-based whenever possible and noted as expert opinion where that is not possible. Because the IOM is not a governmental organization, experts and committees have a greater variety of options to conduct the studies. In particular, although many meetings are open to the public, the committee may deliberate among themselves, and is not obligated to conduct all their work in a public forum.
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