Times Union: Editorial: Live up to institute’s image

Opinion: A recent flap over a study underscores the need for the Rockefeller Institute to guard against even the perception of improper influence over its work.

Albany’s Rockefeller Institute of Government has a long and well-earned reputation of providing unbiased insights to help shape public policy in New York and across the nation. It’s a reputation the institute should always strive to protect.
A controversy involving the institute’s recent report on New York’s Scaffold Law has raised questions about its independence and the propriety of having organizations with strong political leanings fund such studies. Among the key questions is whether a funding entity, especially one with firm positions on the subject, should have ongoing input during the research process.

One could argue that for the process to have true independence and credibility, the funding entity should not be involved once the research is under way. But in the scaffold law study, Rockefeller Institute researchers agreed to brief the funding group, the Civil Justice Institute, every two weeks. The Civil Justice Institute was also allowed to review and comment on a draft of the report, and some of its points were reflected in the final version.

Click here to read the full editorial in the Albany Times-Union.