1. Availability of decision-relevant information: The processes ensure that decision-relevant information is accessible and interpretible to all participants and that decision-relevant analyses are available in open sources and presented in enough detail to allow for independent review.

  2. Explicit attention to both facts and values: Efforts are made to identify the values at stake, to consider different formulations of the problem to be analyzed that may embody different values or concerns (especially in the initial design phase of a public participation process), and to analyze how the available choice options affect various values.

  3. Explicit description of analytic assumptions and uncertainties: The analysis and deliberation include the implications of different assumptions and different possible actualizations of uncertain factors.

  4. Independent review: Official analyses are reviewed by other competent analysts who are credible to the parties.

  5. Iteration: Past conclusions are reconsidered on the basis of new information and analysis.


In Chapter 2, we define quality in environmental assessments and decisions in terms of five elements:

  1. identification of the values, interests, and concerns of the agencies, scientists, and other parties that are interested in, or might be affected by, the environmental process or decision;

  2. identification of the range of actions that might be taken (for decisions);

  3. identification and systematic consideration of the effects that might follow from the environmental processes or actions being considered, including uncertainties about these effects, and consideration of kinds of impacts that deserve consideration given the values, interests, and concerns of those affected;

  4. outputs consistent with the best available knowledge and methods relevant to the above tasks, particularly the third; and

  5. incorporation of new information, methods, analyses, and concerns that arise over time.

A good decision has been defined as one that is logically consistent with what is known (e.g., information, including uncertainties), what the decision maker (or the constituencies that he or she represents) wants (i.e., values and preferences about the possible effects), and what the decision can do (management alternatives or actions) (Howard, 1966, 1968; Raiffa, 1968). Approaching decision making in this way seems like common sense

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