which new information becomes available has to be balanced carefully with the urgency of the decision-making process when deciding on the frequency and scope of assessments.
Consequently, a realistic time line is essential to accomplishing the goals and objectives of an assessment. However, because assessments often have to meet deadlines driven by the mandate or the decision processes they hope to serve, they have sometimes been developed without adequate care given to matching the timeline to a realistic assessment of the amount of work required.
Recommendation: The time line must be consistent with the goals and objectives, the underlying knowledge base, the resources available, and the needs of the decision-making process that the assessment is intended to inform.
Stakeholders, defined here as interested and affected parties, include several specific categories that are distinguished in this report due to the need to strategically engage diverse groups. The target audience is a subset of stakeholders comprised mainly of those making the decisions the assessment intends to inform, who are sometimes also referred to as the “users” of assessments. It includes intermediaries such as NGOs, professional organizations, and other “science translators” (e.g., a congressional staff person). Those who request and fund the assessment are also a specific subset of the target audience. Another important group of stakeholders are the experts participating, producing, or leading the assessment. Lastly, a large subset of stakeholders consists of those potentially affected by the policies resulting from the use of assessments who may not have been part of the process.
The assessment community has recognized the importance of broad engagement of stakeholders in order to ensure salience and legitimacy. In this section, the committee discusses issues related to addressing the needs of specific target audiences, establishing appropriate boundaries at the science-policy interface, engaging stakeholders beyond the target audience, building the capacity of stakeholders to engage in assessments, and a comprehensive, multifaceted communication strategy. Meeting this objective may require significant resources and may thus need to be balanced with efficiency considerations. However, the importance of stakeholder engagement to the overall success of an assessment implies that budgetary provisions, especially for communication, should reflect this reality.