• ORD maintain close communication and working relationships with program offices to ensure that research in the agency continues to support programmatic needs. Regional and program offices should be engaged in evaluating ORD’s progress and performance.
The importance of delivering science to EPA decision-makers and supporting the scientific capacities and endeavors of program and regional offices is well-recognized in the agency. The agency should use scientific information in all its decisions. Science needs for decisions are identified within program and regional offices through various processes and can take two main forms-summaries and syntheses of existing science and the creation of new science to fill key gaps.
Existing science to inform and support decisions is usually acquired by EPA scientific staff (through a combination of professional networks and electronic tools). ORD’s Office of Science Policy (OSP) is charged with integrating and communicating scientific information that comes from or that supports ORD’s laboratories and centers (EPA 2012a). OSP’s Regional Science Program links ORD science to regional offices. The Regional Science Program’s Regional Science Liaison and Superfund and Technology Liaison locate scientists in regional offices to facilitate regional staff and management access to ORD science. The regional liaisons have regular communication with OSP to ensure communication between ORD and the regional offices (M. Dannel, EPA, personal communication, December 30, 2011). The EPA SAB Committee on Science Integration for Decision Making found that regional offices consider the liaisons to be important in science acquisition (EPA SAB 2012b).
OSP plays a key role in connecting program and regional offices to ORD research and in expanding the capacity of regional offices to conduct needed research. For a few programs, most notably several programs in the Office of Pesticide Programs, needed research can be required of regulated entities. However, that option is not available to most programs, and those programs and regions rely to various degrees on inhouse research. At the regional level, there are several mechanisms through which new science is supported. For example, the Regional Applied Research Effort Program, which allocates about $200,000 per year to each EPA region for collaborative research, funds near-term research (1-2 years) on high-priority, regional applied-science needs. It is also intended to foster collaboration between EPA regions and ORD laboratories and centers, to build a network between regions and ORD for future scientific interaction, and to provide opportunities for ORD scientists to apply their expertise to regional issues and explore new research challenges. The Regional Methods Program, for which about $600,000 per year is allocated, works to develop new monitoring and enforcement methods (EPA 2012b). It is analogous to the Regional Applied