Peer Review in the Department of Energy-Office of Science and Technology

Interim Report

Committee on the Department of Energy-Office of Science and Technology's Peer Review Program

Board on Radioactive Waste Management

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1997



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--> Peer Review in the Department of Energy-Office of Science and Technology Interim Report Committee on the Department of Energy-Office of Science and Technology's Peer Review Program Board on Radioactive Waste Management Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1997

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--> NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This work was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Contract No. DE-FC01-94EW54069. All opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Energy. International Standard Book Number 0-309-05943-7 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Ave., NW Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area) http://www.nap.edu Copyright 1997 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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--> COMMITTEE ON THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY-OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY'S PEER REVIEW PROGRAM C. HERB WARD, Chair, Rice University, Houston, Texas BARRY BOZEMAN, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta RADFORD BYEPLY, JR., University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (retired), Boulder, Colorado LINDA A. CAPUANO, AlliedSignal Aerospace, San Jose, California RICHARD A. CONWAY, Union Carbide Corporation (retired), South Charleston, West Virginia THOMAS A. COTTON, JK Research Associates, Vienna, Virginia FRANK P. CRIMI, Lockheed Martin Advanced Environmental Systems Company (retired), Saratoga, California JOHN C. FOUNTAIN, State University of New York, Buffalo DAVID T. KINGSBURY, Chiron Corporation, Emeryville, California GARETH THOMAS, University of California, Berkeley Staff GREGORY SYMMES, Study Director* SUSAN B. MOCKLER, Research Associate ERIKA L. WILLIAMS, Research Assistant/Senior Project Assistant ROBIN L. ALLEN, Senior Project Assistant *   Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources.

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--> BOARD ON RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT MICHAEL C. KAVANAUGH, Chair, Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., Oakland, California B. JOHN GARRICK, Vice-Chair, PLG, Inc., Newport Beach, California JOHN F. AHEARNE, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, and Duke University, Research Triangle Park and Durham, North Carolina JEAN M. BAHR, University of Wisconsin, Madison SOL BURSTEIN, Wisconsin Electric Power (retired), Milwaukee ANDREW P. CAPUTO, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C. MELVIN W. CARTER, Georgia Institute of Technology (emeritus), Atlanta PAUL P. CRAIG, University of California (emeritus), Davis MARY R. ENGLISH, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville DARLEANE C. HOFFMAN, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, California JAMES H. JOHNSON, JR., Howard University, Washington, D.C. JAMES O. LECKIE, Stanford University, Stanford, California JANE C.S. LONG, University of Nevada, Reno CHARLES MCCOMBIE, NAGRA, Wettingen, Switzerland ROBERT MEYER, Keystone Scientific, Inc., Fort Collins, Colorado D. WARNER NORTH, Decision Focus, Inc., Mountain View, California PAUL SLOVIC, Decision Research, Eugene, Oregon MARY LOU ZOBACK, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California NRC Staff KEVIN D. CROWLEY, Director ROBERT S. ANDREWS, Senior Staff Officer KARYANIL T. THOMAS, Senior Staff Officer THOMAS E. KIESS, Staff Officer SUSAN B. MOCKLER, Research Associate ERIKA L. WILLIAMS, Research Assistant TONI GREENLEAF, Administrative Associate ROBIN L. ALLEN, Senior Project Assistant PATRICIA A. JONES, Senior Project Assistant ANGELA R. TAYLOR, Project Assistant

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--> COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chair, University of Virginia, Charlottesville PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania JAMES P. BRUCE, Canadian Climate Program Board, Ottawa, Ontario WILLIAM L. FISHER, University of Texas, Austin JERRY F. FRANKLIN, University of Washington, Seattle THOMAS E. GRAEDEL, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut DEBRA KNOPMAN, Progressive Foundation, Washington, D.C. KAI N. LEE, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts PERRY L. MCCARTY, Stanford University, Stanford, California JUDITH E. MCDOWELL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts RICHARD A. MESERVE, Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C. S. GEORGE PHILANDER, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park ELLEN SILBERGELD, University of Maryland Medical School, Baltimore VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parsons, Tallahassee, Florida E-AN ZEN, University of Maryland, College Park NRC Staff MYRON UMAN, Acting Executive Director GREGORY SYMMES, Assistant Executive Director JEANETTE SPOON, Administrative Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate MARQUITA SMITH, Administrative Assistant/Technology Analyst

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--> The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government, and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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--> Preface In March 1996, the National Research Council's Committee on Environmental Management Technologies (CEMT) recommended that the Department of Energy (DOE)-Office of Science and Technology (OST) develop and apply a standardized, rigorous, and independent external peer review process to all of its technology development programs (NRC, 1996). A subsequent report by the General Accounting Office (GAO, 1996) echoed these findings. As a result, in September 1996 OST instituted a new program to perform peer reviews of technologies (or groups of technologies) at various stages of development. Shortly thereafter, OST requested that the National Research Council form a committee to evaluate the effectiveness of its new program and to make specific recommendations to improve it, if appropriate. In particular, the committee was asked to review the following: internal procedures used by OST to identify the need for timely peer review of projects and programs; structures, protocols, and procedures for obtaining peer reviews of OST projects and programs, including who decides what will be peer reviewed, what criteria for peer review are used, and when in the R&D process peer review is requested; and feedback of peer review results into program management and development decisions. The committee was directed to compare OST's practices to generally accepted norms for scientific and technical peer review, including practices for selection of peer reviewers and screening for bias and conflict of interest. This is the first of two reports to be prepared by this committee on OST's new peer review program. OST requested this interim report to provide a preliminary assessment of the program. In particular, OST asked the committee to consider whether it is moving in the right direction toward the implementation of a credible, effective, and defensible peer review program. In its final report, the committee will provide a more detailed assessment of OST's peer review program after its first complete annual cycle. The final report will develop a general framework for evaluating the level of development (or "maturity level") of a peer review program, focusing on specific components of the peer review process. Another NRC Committee, the Committee on Prioritization and Decision Making in the Department of Energy-Office of Science and Technology, is currently conducting a parallel review of the decision-making process in OST's technology-development program. One aspect of its work will be to examine the role and importance of peer reviews in OST's decision-making process. Our committee therefore has focused its work on OST's peer review program itself (including the peer review results used as an input to decision making), but has not addressed OST's decision-making process explicitly. In conducting this study, the committee has been briefed on the newly instituted peer review program by OST staff at three committee meetings. The committee wishes to thank Gerald Boyd, acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology, in particular, for meeting with the committee at two of its meetings. In addition, Jef Walker, Anibal Taboas,

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--> Texas Chee, and Miles Dionisio were very helpful in providing requested materials, in briefing the committee on various aspects of the new peer review program, for sharing various "lessons learned" about the peer review program, and for coordinating briefings by other relevant DOE staff. They also helped facilitate committee members' observations of a number of the peer reviews. The committee also would like to thank the staff of the Institute for Regulatory Science (RSI) and representatives from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)—most notably, Alan Moghissi and Ernest Daman—for arranging for the committee to observe selected peer reviews, for providing the committee with draft peer review reports, and for sharing their thoughts on the OST's peer review program. In addition to briefings by DOE, RSI, and ASME, the committee also heard from representatives from other organizations that utilize and/or conduct peer reviews. The committee wishes to thank all of the invited speakers who made presentations to the committee on peer review practices in their organizations, specifically, Dorothy Patton and Jack Puzak from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), David Morrison from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Don Barnes from EPA's Science Advisory Board, Robert Marianelli from the Department of Energy-Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Donald R. Beem from the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and Carl Guastaferro from Information Dynamics, Inc. The latter two organizations have conducted reviews for federal agencies for many years. Although the mission of each of these federal organizations is distinct from that of OST, these presentations illustrated that many of the fundamental characteristics of successful peer review programs are applicable to a diverse range of objectives, from reviewing proposals to reviewing ongoing technology projects. This report could not have been completed without the able assistance of National Research Council staff. Robin Allen provided meeting and committee support during the early stages of this study; Erika Williams assumed these responsibilities after the first committee meeting and also helped compile committee members' written contributions into coherent drafts. Susan Mockler prepared meeting minutes, conducted research, and edited several drafts of the report. This report also benefited significantly from the writing skills and insight of study director Gregory Symmes. One of the challenges of this study has been that OST's peer review program has been somewhat of a "moving target" during the study period, as OST has made a number of changes in the program during the past eight months. Although this has made the committee's work more difficult at times, it reflects a positive commitment within OST to modify the peer review program as potential improvements are recognized. The committee offers this interim report to further advance this improvement process and looks forward to providing a more formal assessment in its final report. C. HERB WARD, CHAIR

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--> Contents     Executive Summary   1     Use of the Term "Peer Review,"   2     Planning of Reviews,   2     Selection of Projects for Review,   2     Selection of Review Criteria and Objectives,   3     Selection of Reviewers,   3     Peer Review Results,   3     Implementation of Peer Review Program,   4     Introduction   5     Definition of Peer Review   9     Benefits of Peer Review   11     Peer Review Process   13     Selection of Projects for Peer Review,   15     Definition of Peer Review Objectives and Selection of Review Criteria,   19     Selection of Peer Reviewers,   20     Planning and Conducting the Peer Review,   22     Usefulness of Peer Review Results,   23     Implementation of the Peer Review Program   27     OST's "Corporate" Culture,   27     Role of Leadership,   28     References   31     Appendixes         A Description of OST's Peer Review Program   35     B Description of OST's Technology Investment Decision Model   41     C Description of OST's Review Program   47     D Biographical Sketches   53     E Acronyms   57

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