Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 27
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment 3 EMSP SCIENCE PLAN The statement of task for this report (Appendix A) directed the committee to address five questions related to "science needs" for the Environmental Management Science Program (EMSP). Broadly speaking, the committee was asked to provide advice on an EMSP research agenda, both in terms of process and content. The committee also was asked to provide advice on how the EMSP could best leverage its research investments and broaden the community of investigators available to address problems of concern to the program. Some of these questions were addressed in earlier committee reports, as noted in Chapter 1. In this chapter the committee summarizes the conclusions from its previous reports and provides additional advice on the following issues: rationale for developing a science plan for the EMSP, content of and process for developing the science plan, strategies for coordinating the investment in basic research, and strategies for broadening the investigator community involved in work of relevance to the EMSP. RATIONALE FOR DEVELOPING A SCIENCE PLAN FOR THE EMSP The overall goals of the Environmental Management Program (EM) have been under formulation for at least seven years, since the program began under Secretary Watkins. Amidst the many pressures of local stakeholders, regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials, and state environmental officials, the Department of Energy (DOE) has been trying to establish a program that will enable it to deal with the legacy of the Cold War weapons production facilities. The DOE has called this a cleanup program but has not attempted to define what cleanup is. The most recent attempt to describe what cleanup might entail was made by Assistant Secretary Aim, who has proposed a 10-year
OCR for page 28
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment vision for resolving many issues of concern to local stakeholder groups at the sites. He explicitly acknowledges that some of the problems, notably transuranic waste, high-level waste, and ground-water contamination, will not be resolved in a 10-year time frame. Because of local conditions, especially the views of local stakeholder groups, the DOE has not tried to establish a single national level-of-cleanup standard. With this as background, it should not come as a surprise that the committee had a great deal of trouble addressing the following question in its Statement of Task: "What areas of basic research are likely to provide the best payoffs for EM cleanup efforts over the next few decades?" Indeed, after extensive discussions and many presentations from DOE representatives, contractors, and national laboratory staff, the committee concluded that it could not provide an explicit answer to this question without many more meetings and perhaps a different committee membership. A majority of the committee believes that, because the EMSP is so new and represents a different way of approaching the cleanup problems, it may not even be wise to make detailed recommendations with regard to the inclusion or exclusion of specific research areas. The research content of the EMSP will likely evolve over time as results are accumulated and evaluations of outcomes for the broader EM effort are conducted. The committee did conclude, however, that it could recommend a process that DOE could follow to identify its research needs, and it focuses on that process in the following section. The Congress's rationale for creating the EMSP developed from a sense that DOE was not devoting sufficient time or resources to fundamental scientific studies that would be of benefit to cleanup in the long-term. As the Congress noted in the conference report on the Energy and Water Development Appropriation Bill that created the EMSP, ". . . the Department [of Energy] is not providing sufficient attention and resources to longer term basic science research which needs to be done to ultimately reduce cleanup costs."1 Indeed, the committee's review of some of the Department's documentation of cleanup needs and strategies reinforces the impression that the Department itself has not acknowledged the need for or the potential value of basic research in its cleanup mission. 1 See Chapter 1, page 1 for a more complete quotation.
OCR for page 29
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) requires that by 30 September 1997 each agency submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congress a strategic plan that contains, among other items, "a comprehensive mission statement covering the major functions and operations of the agency" and "a description of how the goals and objectives are to be achieved. . . . "2 Many agencies are moving to develop such plans in advance of the required date. In February 1996, for example, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released its strategic plan.3 In May 1996, EPA published a strategic plan for the Office of Research and Development and a science planning document.4 DOE has begun to produce related documents. In July 1996, the Department published the first part of its strategic plan for national laboratories.5 In August 1996, the Department released its strategic plan for energy research.6 As mentioned in Chapter 2, the new Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management has begun an ambitious program to develop a strategic plan related to his 10-year vision.7 The Department also has produced a report that details its plans for land and infrastructure use at 20 DOE sites.8 Another congressionally requested 2 The quoted text is from the GPRA, 5 U.S.C. Section 306(a)(l) and 306(a)(3). The reference to the OMB document for strategic plans is Office of Management and Budget, 1996, Preparation and Submission of Strategic Plans, Circular No. A-I 1, Part 2 (Washington, D.C.: OMB). 3 NASA. 1996. NASA Strategic Plan (Washington, D.C.: NASA). 4 EPA, 1996, Strategic Plan for the Office of Research and Development, EPA/600/R-96/059 (Washington, D.C.: EPA); EPA, 1996, Report to Congress: The Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program, EPA/600/R-96/064 (Washington, D.C.: EPA). 5 DOE, Laboratory Operations Board, 1996, Strategic Laboratory Mission Plan—Phase I (Washington, D.C.: DOE). 6 DOE, 1996, Energy Research Strategic Plan, DOE/ER-0656 (Washington, D.C.: DOE). 7 DOE, 1996, Memo, 10 June 1996, from Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management regarding Integrated Strategic Planning, Budgeting and Management System/10 Year Planning. 8 DOE, 1996, Charting the Course: The Future Use Report, DOE/EM-0283 (Washington, D.C.: DOE).
OCR for page 30
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment report, The 1996 Baseline Environmental Management Report,9 usually referred to as the BEMR, estimates life-cycle costs and schedules for completing EM's mission. Finally, there are documents published by the EM Office of Science and Technology, for example, its annual report to Congress10 and reports from the focus areas.11 To the committee's knowledge, the Department has not explained the role of the EMSP in the cleanup mission in any of these planning documents. For example, neither the BEMR Executive Summary nor the ER Strategic Plan mentions the EMSP. The Strategic Laboratory Mission Plan presents a volume of mission activity profiles: 52 for national security, 53 for energy resources, 54 for science and technology, and 7 for environmental quality. Of these seven, one is on Yucca Mountain, two are on storing or removing spent fuel from commercial reactors, one on developing an integrated waste management system by the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, one is on field support for West Valley and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), one is "directed toward satisfying compliance agreements and regulatory requirements," and one is on technology development, essentially the Office of Science and Technology (EM-50). None address the basic research that is the theme of the EMSP. Indeed, given the near-term budgetary and scheduling pressures on the program—EM is being urged to "get on" with cleanup from an impatient Congress and public while at the same time its budget and staff are under significant downward pressures—the Department has had little opportunity or incentive to advocate long-term investments in scientific research, a position reinforced by the Assistant Secretary's 10-year vision: "Within a decade, the EM program will complete cleanup at most nuclear sites." The implicit "message" of this vision is that most of the 9 DOE, Office of Environmental Management, 1996, The 1996 Baseline Environmental Management Report, DOE/EM-0290, 3 vols. and Executive Summary (Washington, D.C.: DOE). 10 DOE, Office of Science and Technology, 1996, Annual Report to Congress, FY1995 (Washington, D.C.: DOE). 11 DOE, 1996, Characterization, Monitoring and Sensor Technology Crosscutting Program: Technology Summary, DOE/EM-0298 (Washington, D.C.: DOE). The Department has developed other focus area reports on the following topics: subsurface contaminants; decontamination and decommissioning; plutonium; robotics; mixed waste characterization, treatment and disposal; radioactive tank waste remediation; and efficient separations and processing.
OCR for page 31
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment cleanup of the weapons complex can be completed in 10 years using currently known technology and understanding. However, the Assistant Secretary does recognize that cleanup will not be completed in 10 years: "At a small number of sites treatment will continue for the few remaining waste streams. . . . Remaining waste streams include high-level and TRU [transuranic] wastes."12 Thus, many of the most difficult problems will remain even if the 10-year plan is successful. It is just these types of problems that will require the results of the EMSP. As noted in a previous chapter and in its Initial Assessment Report, the committee finds good reasons for long-term investments by EM in basic scientific research that is not linked to the 10-year vision: these investments can provide new knowledge that will allow the Department to attack cleanup problems that are currently intractable or exorbitantly expensive using current technologies; they can lead to the development of better technologies to allow cleanup to be accomplished at lower costs or with fewer hazards to workers and the public; and they can lead to the development of new or improved technologies that will allow cleanup to a higher state than is presently possible, thereby making sites available for less restrictive uses. If the EMSP is to have a significant impact on the cleanup mission, the Department must incorporate this program into its strategic plans. Indeed, as the deadline for GPRA's reporting requirements draws near, it is essential to the survival of the EMSP that a plan for applying basic research in the cleanup program—a science plan—be explicitly and officially articulated by the Department. As a first step to this end, the committee recommends that the Department develop a science plan for the EMSP. This science plan should provide a comprehensive list of significant cleanup problems in the complex that can be addressed through basic research and a strategy for addressing them. A majority of the committee members believe that basic research focused on EM's more difficult cleanup problems (which are understood in a broad sense) may provide the information necessary for the cleanup program to succeed. However, one member of the committee believes that the lack of clear objectives for the cleanup program requires the 12 DOE, 1996, Memo, 10 June 1996, from Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management regarding Integrated Strategic Planning, Budgeting and Management System/10 Year Planning, pp. 1-2 of attached Draft Guidance for the 10-Year Plan.
OCR for page 32
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment EMSP and the relevance reviews to "fly blind." This member argues that the science plan should further the objectives of the EM program (whatever they are determined to be). Without clear objectives for the EM program, this member sees a logical flaw in recommending the development of such a plan. The majority of the committee disagrees and believes that enough is known about the contamination problems at DOE sites that the development of a science plan will improve the EMSP. However, all members agree, as other National Research Council panels have, that DOE should place greater emphasis on defining a set of specific near- and long-term objectives for the cleanup program. CONTENT OF AND PROCESS FOR DEVELOPING THE SCIENCE PLAN The committee views the science plan as the primary guiding document for the Department's basic research investment in the cleanup mission. To serve this purpose, the content of the science plan needs to be comprehensive and reflective of the significant cleanup problems in the complex. The committee's Letter Report encouraged the Department to broaden its research solicitations and to include problems related to risk, health assessment, and quantitative methodologies (i.e., statistical methods, numerical [simulation] methods and the combination of the two sets of techniques), mainly because the committee believes that research in these areas could have a direct impact on the cleanup mission (e.g., Sidebar 3.1). In addition, the committee believes that ER should ensure that the pertinent merit review panelists are knowledgeable in the risk research field. The committee addressed the identification of cleanup problems in its first two reports.13 In its Initial Assessment Report, the committee recommended "that DOE prepare concise written technical summaries of its basic research needs for the research community. Such summaries should contain information on the critical barriers to the solution of EM's problems, arranged both by site and by problem focus" (p. 16). The 13 More precisely, the committee addressed the identification of "research needs" in its Initial Assessment Report and "problem lists" in its Letter Report. The committee's preference for developing problem lists developed during the course of its later deliberations.
OCR for page 33
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment SIDEBAR 3.1 Potential Value of Risk Research to the Cleanup Mission Risk-related problems deserve special consideration in the science plan, because risk assessments should underpin all attempts to prioritize cleanup activities in the weapons complex. For example, cancer risk from low-level exposure to radioactivity (i.e., near background levels) has never been documented and must be estimated through extrapolation from high exposure data. Basic research on the health effects of low levels of radiation is particularly relevant to the EMSP. At present, the scope or extent of any radiation exposure over the long-term is not well defined. Until estimates of the uncertainties are derived, it is not possible to assess realistically the calculated risk estimates. A genuine need exists to assess systematically and realistically environmental and occupational risk during restoration and post-restoration activities. It is usually assumed, for example, that the environment is protected if the people living in that environment are protected. Risk assessments can help assess the potential for significant changes—adverse or beneficial—in a particular environment due to radiation or chemical exposures. The evaluation of existing data and a determination of the uncertainty associated with each of the many parameters involved in the assessment of end-point risk to a population and the environment can be the basis of a realistic risk assessment. Innovative techniques are necessary to validate quantitative point estimates of the risk over time and to estimate the degree of uncertainty associated with these values. In the specific area of health assessment, actual health detriments from chemicals are poorly known. The chemicals used at DOE sites are used commercially and have accepted occupational exposure limits. Nonetheless, the scope of the problem for these substances is poorly defined at DOE sites and requires new techniques to evaluate potential exposures. committee returned to this recommendation in its Letter Report: "The committee reaffirms the importance of these summaries and recommends that they be prepared forthwith" (p. 5). An important reason for preparing such summaries is to enable the broader research community, many of
OCR for page 34
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment whose members are unfamiliar with the DOE cleanup problems, to become sufficiently aware of and interested in these problems so that they may become involved in research of value to the cleanup mission. As the committee wrote in the Initial Assessment Report: ''These summaries should be produced for wide circulation to the research community and should be updated as appropriate to reflect current needs" (p. 17). In its Letter Report the committee encouraged the Department to emphasize in these summaries the problems to be solved, rather than the research areas currently viewed as most relevant to their solution. The committee noted in its Letter Report that it did not have the experience or expertise to provide a list of EM problems that should be addressed through basic research. The committee can, however, provide advice on a process for developing such a problem list, which would form the core of the EMSP science plan. To this end, the committee recommends both a near-term and a long-term process for developing a science plan for the EMSP. For the near term (i.e., the fiscal year 1997 [FY97] competition), the committee recommends that the Department develop the science plan from existing Department documents.14 A description of the EM Science Program prepared by EM, ER, and DOE laboratory representatives in 199515 and the previously referenced BEMR report could serve as good starting points for this effort. For the longer term (i.e., the FY98 competition), the committee recommends that the Department consult with its "problem holders"—the technical staff, managers, and stakeholder advisory groups at the sites who have some understanding of cleanup issues—to obtain guidance on cleanup problems that cannot be addressed practically or efficiently with current knowledge or technologies. The committee recognizes, of course, that the technical expertise and knowledge for assessing cleanup problems among these groups is uneven and, consequently, suggestions from these groups will 14 Examples of documents that could be used to prepare such summaries include the Baseline Environmental Management Report (see footnote 3 in Chapter 2); DOE, Office of Energy Research, 1990, Basic Research for Environmental Restoration, DOE/ER-0482T (Washington, D.C.: DOE); R. E. Gephart and R. E. Lundgren, 1995, Hanford Tank Cleanup: A Guide to Understanding the Technical Issues, PNL-10773 (Richland, Wash.: Pacific Northwest Laboratory). 15 DOE, 1995, Description of the Environmental Management Science Program: Working Draft.
OCR for page 35
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment have to be considered against that knowledge. Nevertheless, the committee believes that these groups can provide valuable perspectives on the urgency of various cleanup problems at the sites. Given the large number of DOE sites, these consultations will have to be structured carefully to be manageable by and useful to EMSP staff. For example, each of these three groups (i.e., technical staff, managerial staff, and the site's advisory group) at each of the major DOE sites could be asked to prepare a short (e.g., 5-page) document listing the most important (e.g., in terms of cost and risk reduction) longer-term cleanup problems that cannot be addressed practically with current knowledge or technologies. These papers could then be collected and reviewed by a panel consisting of ER and EM program managers, selected investigators in relevant disciplines, and representatives from the sites. This panel could then generate statements of problems that could be addressed by basic research. COORDINATING THE INVESTMENT IN BASIC RESEARCH The science plan developed through the processes described above is likely to be very broad in scope—both in terms of the range of problems and the disciplinary coverage—reflecting the broad scope of the EM cleanup mission and the large number of very difficult cleanup problems across the complex. Indeed, the committee expects that the science plan will require an investment in basic research that is larger than the current $50 million annual investment in the EMSP. To implement the science plan, Department staff should find ways to utilize relevant research being sponsored in other federal programs and to focus the EMSP on those problems that are unique to the weapons complex. At the same time, Department staff also should find ways to inform managers and principal investigators (P.I.s) in these other programs of its needs for research as articulated in its science plan. Given the relatively small size of the EMSP and its staff, the committee does not deem it prudent to recommend formal coordination mechanisms between the EMSP and other research programs. The committee does, however, offer the following mechanisms as examples of the kinds of coordinating activities that could be of value to the program:
OCR for page 36
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment Identify potentially complementary research programs in other federal agencies and provide copies of the science plan to the program directors. On p. 19 of its Initial Assessment Report, the committee identified examples of programs that sponsor research of relevance to the EMSP. The committee has gathered additional information on federal research programs and provides a more comprehensive list of relevant programs in Table 3.1. Since many of these programs are headquartered in Washington, D.C., staff can be brought together at relatively low cost to participate in meetings where research results are presented and discussed. EMSP staff should consider organizing such a meeting around the release of its science plan for the EMSP. Obtain and review the reports issued by these programs to become familiar with the P.I.s and research projects. Many research programs issue annual reports that contain project summaries and publication lists, and some agencies are now beginning to post this information electronically where it can be accessed easily and searched readily. Invite research program directors from other federal agencies and, when appropriate, investigators supported by their programs to meetings of EMSP investigators and technology users (e.g., the problem holders at the sites), as discussed briefly in Chapter 5. Such meetings could provide efficient mechanisms to help in applying research results to cleanup and in fostering collaborations between investigators in different disciplines who would not otherwise have a reason to associate. Attend, where possible, the investigator meetings for other research programs to become familiar with the research projects and P.I.s. Many research programs bring groups of their P.I.s together periodically to provide progress reports of their work. By carefully targeting these meetings, EMSP staff can become more widely informed of relevant research sponsored by other programs. These meetings also offer opportunities for EMSP staff to alert others about the needs and activities at DOE facilities. The committee notes that EM and ER staff are already beginning to take proactive steps along these lines. For example, ER has involved an EM staff member in the management group for its NABIR program
OCR for page 37
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment (Table 3.1). Additionally, EM staff have initiated contacts with EPA staff to discuss that agency's risk-related research. As EMSP staff become more knowledgeable about relevant research efforts in other programs, they will be able to move the focus of the EMSP to high-priority problems that are not being addressed elsewhere. At the same time, EMSP staff will be able to identify relevant research from other programs and help move it into technology development efforts. The net effect of these activities is a multifront attack on the science plan and a more effective application of results to the cleanup mission. BROADENING THE INVESTIGATOR COMMUNITY The committee's previous reports have made frequent references to broadening the community of investigators involved in the EMSP and to developing a core or "committed cadre" of investigators who are knowledgeable about EM's problems. The committee believes that the Department can take several steps over both the near term and the long-term to improve its outreach to the research community and thereby hasten the development of this core group. The committee noted in its Initial Assessment Report that the long-term success and effectiveness of the EMSP will depend to a large extent on the degree to which the program is able to attract high-quality researchers. In the committee's opinion, EMSP should not be viewed as just another program to support the established environmental research community. Rather, the program should strive to attract creative investigators who do not now work on the Department's problems. This will require significant outreach to the scientific and technical communities, particularly to those not currently engaged in work related to energy research or environmental management. Many of the suggestions offered in the previous section on program coordination will be of benefit to the Department in its efforts to attract "new" investigators to the EMSP. As noted in the Initial Assessment Report, high-quality researchers can be found in a broad spectrum of the nation's research institutions, including universities, industry, national laboratories, and other federal agencies; investigators in each of these institutions bring unique strengths and perspectives to the program.
OCR for page 38
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment TABLE 3.1 Other Federal Research Programs of Relevance to the EMSP Program Name Description Budget DOD Supports defense-related fundamental research in physics, chemistry, terrestrial science, ocean science, atmospheric and space science, biological science, materials science, and computer science through the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and others. NAa DOE Energy Research Programs Supports energy-related fundamental research in bioscience, chemistry, computing, geoscience, health, materials science, and physics through several programs. NAa DOE-ER Natural and Accelerated Bioremediation Research (NABIR) Program Supports research and development in bioremediation, especially in situ bioremediation of contaminated soils, sediments, and ground water at DOE facilities. FY 96: $20 M DOE/EPA/NSF/ONR Joint Program on Bioremediation Supports bioremediation research with the goal of understanding the factors that impact the risk posed by waste chemicals and their degradation products to ecosystem and human health during the process of bioremediation. FY 96: $5 M EPA National Center for Environmental Research and Quality Assurance Supports research in support of EPA program priorities, including exploratory research, ecosystem indicators, issues in human health risk assessment, endocrine disruptors, ambient air quality, health effects and exposures to particulate matter and associated air pollutants, drinking water, and contaminated sediments. FY 97: $35 M
OCR for page 39
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment NSF Basic Research Programs Supports fundamental research in bioscience, chemistry, computing, engineering, geoscience, materials science, and physics. NAa NSF Environmental Geochemistry and Biogeochemistry Supports interdisciplinary research on chemical processes that determine the behavior and distribution of inorganic and organic materials in the near-surface environment. FY 97: $5 M NSF/EPA Partnership for Environmental Research Supports grants for research in the subjects of water and watersheds, technology for sustainable development, and decision making and valuation for environmental policy. FY 97: $12 M USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Programb Supports USGS research on fate and transport of toxic substances in the nation's hydrologic environment. FY 97: $14 M NOTE: Programs are extramural except where indicated. DOD = U.S. Department of Defense, DOE = U.S. Department of Energy, EPA = U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NA = not available, NSF = National Science Foundation, ONR = Office of Naval Research, USGS = U.S. Geological Survey. a No budget figures are available because environmentally related basic research is not broken out of DOD's, ER's, or NSF's basic research budgets. b Intramural research program. National laboratory investigators: Many national lab investigators are familiar with the weapons complex and the cleanup mission, and they possess specialized knowledge, facilities and equipment, and analytical and monitoring capabilities. Many of these investigators also are experienced in working in large teams that may be useful to address certain types of multidisciplinary problems. University investigators: Many university investigators are at the forefront in the fundamental scientific disciplines where advances in knowledge are likely to provide significant future payoffs to the cleanup mission. University investigators also are primarily responsible for training future generations of investigators.
OCR for page 40
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment Industry investigators: Like their national laboratory counterparts, many industry investigators have access to specialized knowledge, facilities, and equipment, and many are experienced in working in multidisciplinary team environments at the interface between research and application. Investigators at other federal agencies: Many federal "mission" agencies have capabilities for addressing problems relevant to EMSP. For example, some agency investigators are involved in work at "testbed" sites16 on "generic" problems such as ground-water contamination by chlorinated solvents, petroleum hydrocarbon mixtures, and certain heavy metals. Research that utilizes these testbeds can provide new knowledge that can be applied directly to cleanup of the weapons complex. Over the near term, the Department can broaden the community of investigators concerned with its cleanup problems by encouraging appropriate collaborations among investigators at these institutions. These collaborations are not an end in themselves but rather a route for stimulating new research, introducing new investigators to the Department's problems, and assuring relevance of the projects. Collaborations almost always develop from a perceived need on the part of investigators that additional expertise is necessary to tackle research problems. Thus, the nature of the problems articulated in the science plan may be important for encouraging collaborations in the program. In particular, collaborations between university investigators— who generally speaking have a great deal of disciplinary expertise but not much knowledge of the Department's cleanup problems—and their national laboratory and industry counterparts can bring a new pool of largely untapped talent to bear on the Department's problems. Additionally, collaborations between investigators and site contractors can facilitate work directly at the sites and ensure its coordination with ongoing cleanup activities. Of course, for this arrangement to work, the contractors may need financial or programmatic incentives, especially when such collaborations result in extra expense, including personnel costs. One way to encourage such collaborations would be to have EM 16 The USGS, EPA, and DOD, among others, operate and/or conduct research at such sites.
OCR for page 41
Building an Effective Environmental Management Science Program: Final Assessment program staff arrange for such support through the contractor's cleanup contract. The committee recommends that collaborations be encouraged where appropriate—but they should not be a requirement for the program. Attempts to force collaborations could discourage some talented scientists from applying to the program. As the committee noted in its Initial Assessment Report, much of the nation's best science continues to be done by single investigators working on individual projects. Over the longer term, the Department can promote the development of a "committed cadre" by encouraging graduate and postdoctoral training in areas of interest. Such training not only contributes to building a high-quality community of investigators concerned with EM's long-term cleanup problems, but it also brings fresh perspectives and new ideas to bear on the program's problems. The committee reaffirms the recommendation from its Letter Report (p. 4) that the program "should encourage (but not require) graduate student involvement in research proposals submitted to the program." The committee would add to this recommendation that appropriate postdoctoral training opportunities, including training opportunities within current DOE programs, also should be encouraged to sustain the interest of talented young scientists. If the EMSP budget increases in size to the levels indicated in the next chapter, EMSP staff should consider establishing fellowship programs to support highly qualified graduate students, postdoctoral investigators, and early-career scientists. At the graduate level, such fellowship programs would encourage promising students to obtain advanced degrees in academic disciplines relevant to environmental cleanup at DOE. At the postdoctoral and early-career levels, such fellowship programs would steer new Ph.D.s into research careers in fields related to the DOE cleanup mission. At increased budget levels, the EMSP also could support workshops, seminars, and lectureships to provide an open forum for presentation of results of EMSP-supported research. Seminars at national laboratories and universities by prominent scientists within the EMSP program could be especially helpful in establishing productive collaborations. The topic of workshops and seminars is addressed again in Chapter 5.
Representative terms from entire chapter: