1. Adequate funding that is both commensurate with the mandate and effectively managed to ensure an efficient assessment process.

  2. A balance between the benefits of a particular assessment and the opportunity costs (e.g., commitments of time and effort) to the scientific community.

  3. A timeline consistent with assessment objectives, the state of the underlying knowledge base, the resources available, and the needs of decision makers.

  4. Engagement and commitment of interested and affected parties, with a transparent science-policy interface and effective communication throughout the process.

  5. Strong leadership and an organizational structure in which responsibilities are well articulated.

  6. Careful design of interdisciplinary efforts to ensure integration, with specific reference to the assessment’s purpose, users needs, and available resources.

  7. Realistic and credible treatment of uncertainties.

  8. An independent review process monitored by a balanced panel of review editors.

  9. Maximizing the benefits of the assessment by developing tools to support use of assessment results in decision making at differing geographic scales and decision levels.

  10. Use of a nested assessment approach, when appropriate, using analysis of large-scale trends and identification of priority issues as the context for focused, smaller-scale impacts and response assessments at the regional or local level.

The committee concludes that attention to these elements, many of which have been identified in the previous literature, increase the probability that an assessment will be credible, legitimate, and salient, and therefore will effectively inform both decision makers and other target audiences. In the following findings and recommendations, the committee provides general guidance for incorporating these elements into future assessments.


Establishing a Clear Mandate

Whether domestic or international in scope, an assessment will benefit by an authorizing environment that ensures it has a clear mandate and the resources necessary to respond to the task. As described in the case of the National Assessment of Climate Change Impacts (NACCI), the process was greatly facilitated by the fact that it was mandated by the U.S. Global

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