in the 2008 National Research Council report Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists: A Framework for Assessment.1 That framework was intended to help public officials charged with making decisions about the development, procurement, and use of information-based programs to determine the effectiveness of such programs in achieving their intended goals, consistent with national and societal values, compliant with the laws of the nation, and reflective of the values of society. The Government Accountability Office has made use of that framework in assessing a number of programs.2


The first componment of the framework described in the present report is organized by stakeholder. That is, any given research project has a variety of stakeholders—parties that have an interest in the project because the project may, directly or indirectly, in the short term or in the long term, have a positive or negative impact on them. This report identifies as possible stakeholders in any research project those involved in or connected to the conduct of the research, the intended users of applications enabled by that research, adversaries against whom those applications may be directed, nonmilitary users of such applications, organizations, noncombatants, and other nations. Not all of these groups are necessarily stakeholders for any given research project or program, and an effort to identify the relevant stakeholder groups is therefore an essential part of any ELSI assessment.

In principle and in fact, ethical, legal, and societal issues affect many groups of stakeholders, many of which are described below. However, not every technology or application will touch the interests of every one of these stakeholders, and part of an analysis of ethical, legal, and societal issues for any given technology or application is to determine the relevant stakeholder groups. An additional analytical step is to determine how the interests of each of these groups should be weighed (e.g., equally or with some other weighting). The science of effective public participation is summarized by a recent National Research Council report.3


1 National Research Council, Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists: A Framework for Program Assessment, The National Academies Press, Washington D.C., 2008, available at

2 For example, see Government Accountability Office, 9/11 Anniversary Observations on TSA’s Progress and Challenges in Strengthening Aviation Security, GAO-12-1024T, Washington, D.C., 2012, available at

3 Thomas Dietz and Paul C. Stern, eds., Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2008, available at

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