[PARAGRAPH ILLEGIBLE] rancerous debate. The doctors and scientists were dealing, after all, with a highly controversial and senitive issue having to do directly with human lives: it had already been the subject of sharp and partisan political dispute. The result, however, was a full day of reasoned, wide-ranging and extraordinary comprehensive discussion, and ultimately a consensus on which Mr. Califano's decision could be firmly based. Later, when asked by a reporter how the decision was actually reached in the "inner sanctum," the HEW Secretary replied: "Everything I heard, you heard if you sat through the meeting." And Dr. Hamburg observed that the news reports were among the most accurate he had seen on such a topic because the press was right there to see exactly how the decision was reached."
Now it is true that this is not a new or revolutionary idea the law now require a measure of openness in these advisory proceedings, although lawyers differ on just how much "sunshine" must be let in. And it is also true that this open approach to decision-making by the government probably cannot realistically be applied across the board: doubtless there are occasions, especially in the fields of foreign policy and national security, where some degree of secrecy may be imperative. But we would note in this respect that a decision on whether to proceed with a potentially dangerous vaccination program is not exactly a mendane matter of no great public consequence or concern. On the contrary, while the subject was acutely sensitive, it also cried out for a large measure of public understanidng, and the resolution of the question required a broad base of support among scientists and physicians - which, in this case, is precisely what it received. We would like to believe that this is only the first example of the sort of openness in government: that Jimmy Carter was promising us all through last fall's presidential campaign.