sustainability. A narrow focus on “program silos” and defensibility can be a barrier to formulating and responding to problems as they occur in the real world. Such a limited approach can hinder integration of new scientific information into decisions and new applications of science to develop innovative, effective solutions to environmental problems (EPA SAB 2012b, p. 5).

In the committee’s analysis of the strengths and limitations of an enhanced agency-wide leadership position, it has concluded that successful implementation of the systems-based application of emerging tools and technologies to meet persistent and future challenges cannot be achieved under the current structure. Success will require leadership throughout the agency, in the programs and regions as well as in ORD. There will need to be clear lines of authority and responsibility, and regional administrators, program assistant administrators, and staff members at all levels will need to be held accountable for ensuring scientific quality and the integration of individual science activities into broader efforts across the agency.

Finding: The need for improvement in the oversight, coordination, and management of agency-wide science has been documented in studies by the National Research Council, The Government Accountability Office, and the agency’s own SAB as a serious shortcoming and it remains an obstacle at EPA. The committee’s own analysis of challenges and opportunities for the agency indicates that the need for integration of systems thinking and the need for enhanced leadership at all levels is even stronger than it has been in the past.

Recommendation: The committee recommends that the EPA administrator continue to identify ways to substantially enhance the responsibilities of a person in an agency-wide science leadership position. That person should hold a senior position, which could be that of a deputy administrator for science, a chief scientist, or possibly a substantially strengthened version of the current science advisor position. He or she should have sufficient authority and staff resources to improve the integration and coordination of science across the agency. If this enhanced leadership position is to be successful, strengthened leadership is needed throughout the agency and the improved use of science at EPA will need to be carried out by staff at all levels.

Whatever administrative arrangement is adopted, the following are suggestions of the types of responsibilities that the committee thinks should be associated with this position:

•   Chairing and assuring that the work of the Science and Technology Policy Council is comprehensive and effective.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement