provide advice to the department regarding its long-standing programs in epidemiological research. One was the DOE’s Secretarial Panel for the Evaluation of Epidemiological Research Activities (SPEERA) (see Appendix B) described below, and the other was the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on the Department of Energy Radiation Epidemiological Research Programs (RERP) described later in the section “DOE’s Advisory Committees.” These two panels (SPEERA and RERP), which were working over roughly the same time span, were independent of one another, although their work was complementary.
On August 1, 1989, the charter creating SPEERA was signed. The panel was charged with providing to the Secretary “an independent evaluation of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) epidemiology program and the appropriateness, effectiveness and overall quality of DOE’s epidemiological research activities.” The committee’s objectives and scope of activities and duties included examination of, and recommendations regarding, the following:
The goals of the research program;
Its management and reporting structure;
Its internal and external human and budget resources;
The use of contract scientists for ongoing and special projects;
Data quality control mechanisms;
The utility and feasibility of transferring the epidemiological research function, including the necessary data, to another entity;
Maintenance of and access to related records;
Current and proposed mechanisms for determining data release policies and for storage of data;
DOE’s response to the data-related request of the Three Mile Island Public Health Fund; and
The long-term role of the NRC Committee on Radiation and Epidemiological Research Programs.
In its March 1990 report, SPEERA noted two distinct problem areas relevant to the present review that needed particular attention: (1) DOE did not have an internally coordinated, comprehensive occupational and environmental health program, and (2) the results of DOE’s epidemiological research conducted up until that time were not viewed as credible by many affected parties. SPEERA’s recommendations included (1) creating a single centralized, strong program within DOE that combined the existing health and safety elements then managed by several different offices, with sufficient visibility and authority to build credibility and trust and (2) allocating the funds for analytical epidemiological research to a federal agency whose primary responsibility was human health that was also involved in epidemiological research. Within a few months after receiving the SPEERA report, DOE moved quickly to combine all of its epidemiology