that are within the mandate of DHS.
The EPA, over the past three decades, has devoted much effort to building a capacity for risk analysis that is directed at supporting the decision needs of its various regulatory programs. The model for this development has been based on the concept, first elaborated in the 1983 NRC report, that information arising from research and other sources is not useful without evaluation and synthesis, the latter describing the risk analysis process. Thus, an internal staff, comprised of all the necessary scientific disciplines, is now available to conduct risk analyses on behalf of the agency’s decision makers. The staff is augmented by some degree of contractor support, but the agency has found that a strong internal risk analysis capacity is essential. The internal staff not only conducts risk analyses, but also develops and maintains risk analysis guidelines. As noted, these guidelines are essential to ensuring the scientific status and consistency of agency assessments. Internal EPA experts are devoted to conducting analyses (following guidelines) and are also involved in the development of new methods for such analyses.
The research efforts of the EPA are intended to provide the data and knowledge necessary for the development of needed risk analyses. As many reports from the National Academies, including the seminal 1983 report, have emphasized, the conduct of risk analyses reveals clearly the gaps in knowledge and data that need to be filled by research. Risk analysis is thus not only a guide to decisions, but also a sound guide to research. The EPA has adopted this concept, and it would seem to be generally applicable to any institutional context in which a research and data development effort is required to support risk analysis. As with any similar efforts undertaken by large, complex institutions, implementation of such risk-based research programs is bound to be imperfect, but it can be strengthened if an internal staff, focused on the conduct and uses of risk analysis, is firmly entrenched in the life of the agency.
Finally, the use of scientific peer review has become critical to ensuring the quality and utility of EPA risk analyses. Scientific peer review and advisory panels are firmly embedded at several different levels within the EPA.