sion making was highly decentralized; laboratory managers had substantial local autonomy and control over funding decisions. There was no coherent and transparent policy for judging and selecting proposals or cooperative agreements, and peer review, as it is commonly used in the scientific community, often was not used (Johnson 1996).

The growing U.S. environmental agenda placed an increasingly heavy burden on ORD for new research results; it was increasingly difficult for ORD to respond in a timely manner, and laboratory managers relied more heavily on contracts and cooperative agreements for meeting the demands. Before 1992, ORD funding for contracts was roughly $160 million, for cooperative agreements $100 million, and for research grants $40 million. Those funding divisions created problems related to the proper management of the research and to ensuring that the work was responsive to the needs of the program offices (Johnson 1996).

This chapter reviews the evolution of the STAR program; the components of the current program, including the research fields it covers; and the procedures for selecting research topics and awarding grants.


Robert Huggett, the assistant administrator of EPA for ORD, reorganized ORD and initiated the STAR program in 1995 by reallocating $57 million in funds from other ORD-sponsored research efforts (primarily the “exploratory research” program). The STAR program was assigned to one of the agency’s newly established research centers, the National Center for Environmental Research and Quality Assurance, now known as the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) (see Figure 2-1). The program’s research focus has been developed specifically to meet the research needs of EPA and is run in accordance with the ORD Strategic Plan (EPA 2001).

Although the STAR program apparently was not established with a defined mission or set of goals, EPA has developed a set of 6 goals for the program (P. Preuss, EPA, Washington, D.C., personal commun., August 5, 2002):

  • Achieve excellence in research.

  • Focus on the highest-priority environmental science and engineer-ing needs to assist EPA in its mission.

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