will make this function increasingly important. At the same time, EPA is itself increasingly resource constrained. As noted in Science Integration for Decision Making at the US Environmental Protection Agency, since 2004, the budget for ORD has declined 28.5% in real dollar terms (gross domestic product-indexed dollars) (EPA SAB 2012a).

To support enhanced leadership and to continually improve environmental science and engineering for the 21st century, the committee identified six key topics:

•   Enhance agency-wide science leadership.

•  Fully implement the recent restructuring of ORD.

•   Coordinate and integrate science efforts within the agency more effectively.

•   Strengthen scientific capacity inside and outside the agency.

•   Deliver and support 21st century environmental science and engineering outside the agency.

•   Support scientific integrity and quality.


Emerging challenges in ecosystem quality and human health necessitate the enhancement and broader use of science in the agency. The environmental challenges outlined in Chapter 2, such as climate change and degradation of surface waters from mixtures of contaminants, share many characteristics—they are transboundary, are multigenerational, and involve complex interactions of multiple stressors and feedback loops. They are affected by population growth, changes in land-use patterns, and technologic change. They constitute wicked problems—that is, problems that are difficult to characterize and to solve because of their complexity; lack of comprehensive understanding; controversy over causes, effects, and solutions; and interdependence. The rapidly emerging scientific techniques and approaches and their application described in Chapter 3 offer both opportunities and challenges for enhancing the science that EPA produces and applying it to the increasingly complex decisions that are necessitated by wicked problems.

The agency has shown an ability to evaluate new tools and integrate them into its activities in some instances, as described in Chapter 3 and Appendixes C and D, although the process has not been systematic or agency-wide. Also, the agency has made strides in recent years to reorganize and reorient its science activities in ORD with some success. The work of ORD scientists is often the most visible, and at times controversial, scientific interpretation and application in the agency. However, more than three-fourths of the scientific staff in EPA do not work within ORD (EPA SAB 2012b); these scientists are frequently placed in positions where they must apply and interpret science for equally controver-

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