Adoption of the recommendations in this report will be effective only if there is agreement among senior policy makers on the principal points underlying them. These points include the nature of public economic policy and the desirability of informed rather than uninformed policy. In the production of information, research, and analysis to inform public economic policy, they include the principle of competition and the necessary attributes of quality, relevance, timeliness, and credibility.

The history of ERS amply demonstrates the vulnerability of an agency that informs policy decisions with credible and relevant information yet is not itself a political decision maker. Yet the same history indicates that this role is essential to success in informing policy decisions. The concept of such an agency is too fragile to sustain disparate expectations by the executive and legislative branches. It requires cooperation and agreement between the secretary and the relevant congressional leadership on a common set of expectations and rules for shared access to ERS services and the role and expected behavior of ERS in dealing with both branches of government. Only in such an environment will informed public economic policy survive.

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