Here's her key conclusion:
Ethics review boards, in either academic or medical settings, should be doing more than reviewing protocols, providing approvals and monitoring ongoing research in a silo somewhere, unconcerned that these kinds of cuts, as they don't name "research ethics" explicitly, have nothing to do with them. While reviewing research takes up a tremendous amount of time and energy, as I well know chairing an ethics review board myself, there is a certain amount of advocacy, outreach and education that an ethics review board must be committed to doing, on an ongoing and iterative basis.This is right on. When my own organization experienced a major financial crisis in late 1999 many painful cuts were made, and I expected that our ethics program might be among them. Instead the COO gave our Ethics Advisory Group a special assignment - recommend a framework of values for dealing with the crisis. He said - wisely - "it's fine to say we endorse five values, but when we have to make tough choices we have to set priorities among them..."
Ethics programs can't solve financial problems by printing money, but they can contribute guidance about how to deal with the crisis in ways most consistent with mission and core values.