reports written by numerous other government agencies, nongovernment organizations, and independent advisory groups.
The committee’s report covers a broad array of topics that reflect EPA’s expansive scope to protect human health and the environment and its leadership role in local, state, and international science. In addition to EPA’s need to provide scientific information that will act as the basis of regulatory decision-making, it plays a role in stimulating and supporting academic research, environmental-education programs, and regional science initiatives and in providing support for safer technologies. Science is needed to support EPA as both a regulatory agency and as a leader in environmental science and engineering. While this report focuses on the issues of science, data, and information management, it recognizes that the policy changes facing EPA and environmental protection more broadly are important.
This report is organized into six chapters and four appendixes. Chapter 2 discusses persistent challenges that EPA is facing now and emerging challenges that may be important to EPA in the future. In the context of those challenges, Chapter 3 aims to provide information on emerging tools and technologies for environmental protection and the application of those emerging tools and technologies. Chapter 4 addresses approaches for EPA to remain at the leading edge of environmental science and engineering, to evaluate and synthesize leading-edge science to inform decisions, to deliver science within and outside the agency, and to strengthen its science capacity. Specific details related to “–omics” technologies and information technology are elaborated on in Appendixes C and D, respectively. Chapter 5 specifically addresses enhanced science leadership and scientific capacity at EPA. Chapter 6 summarizes the committee’s main findings and recommendations.
The committee uses the word science in this report in two distinctive ways. One refers to the processes—collectively called the scientific method—by which new information is generated (that is, research). The second way refers to the body of knowledge produced by scientific methods—that is, the resulting data. EPA both conducts high-quality research and uses scientifically generated information in many ways. The challenges and tools and technologies that the committee discusses are meant to be examples of the types of problems EPA faces now, the types of problems EPA could potentially face in the future, and the types of tools and technologies that could help to solve current, persistent, and emerging environmental challenges. The committee cannot anticipate all of the problems of the future and the tools and technologies that will be needed to address those problems, so it has focused on describing a framework that will help EPA to be better prepared in the future. Some of the committee’s findings and recommendations concern the agency’s science programs, and many are