The Institute for Regulatory Science (RSI) was established in 1985 and received its status as a non-profit organization from the Internal Revenue Service on May 12, 1996, under section 501(c)3 of its code. Between July 1989 and June 1995, the activities of RSI were conducted through the University of Maryland at Baltimore and Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, respectively. Effective July 1995, RSI is conducting its activities as an independent entity.

RSI was formed to ensure that the societal decisions are based on the best available scientific information. In response to that need the concept of Best Available Science (BAS) was developed which in turn resulted in Metrics for Evaluation of Scientific Claims (MESC). The BAS/MESC provides a mechanism for societal institutions including Congress, regulatory agencies, the courts, the media, and numerous other organizations to rely upon credible and reliable science as the foundation of their decisions. Because professional societies of scientists and engineers are best equipped to identify BAS/MESC in their respective disciplines, RSI relies upon pronouncements of these organizations as the primary voice of science. Similarly, RSI activity seeks expressions of the voice of science in areas of societal concern from learned organizations as representatives of the scientific community.

RSI conducts studies; assesses the scientific validity of regulatory actions; evaluates the results of studies performed by others through the peer review process; interacts with learned organizations; conducts training courses; and provides services to all segments of the society including governments at the Federal, State, and local level. RSI covers physical, chemical, biological, and health sciences, as well as the entire field of engineering.

At the international level, RSI's activities emphasize environmental education in developing nations. An area of primary concern to RSI is science education in general, and science education of the disadvantaged in particular. Accordingly, RSI supports science education at K-12 as well as at the college level.

RSI operates with a small in-house staff and relies upon highly-qualified individuals in other organizations. The activities of RSI are often conducted in collaboration with various national laboratories; universities; private, preferably non-profit, organizations; and individual scientists and engineers.

RSI operates as a non-profit scientific and educational organization with a status comparable to a private university. It seeks grants and contracts from government agencies and private organizations to conduct specific studies; to peer-review various activities; to set up scientific panels; and to conduct workshops, meetings, and training courses. RSI provides services to all organizations and individuals regardless of their race, ethnic background, or religious beliefs.