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one in December 1994 and one in January 1995. The committee has considerednumerous documents, including those cited as references in this report,and it has met with officials of EPA's Office of Research and Development,the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Science and TechnologyPolicy. In addition, most of the members of this committee have alsoserved on one or more previous groups that independently evaluatedthe research programs of EPA and other federal agencies under theauspices of the National Research Council, the Carnegie Commission,EPA's Science Advisory Board, or other organizations.

At the time this interim report was prepared, the committee had notreceived the first results of ORD's new strategic-research planningprocess, because the plans are still being developed by EPA. At thisearly point in the study, the committee had not had an opportunityto visit any EPA laboratories or to interview any EPA laboratoryscientists, EPA regulatory and regional program officials, or researchscientists from other agencies and organizations.

Consistent with the committee's charge, this interim report is limited to the committee's initial observations on EPA's overall research program and peer-review practices for researchactivities within that program. This report is based upon the informationand materials available from EPA at the time of the committee's review,and upon the knowledge and experience of the committee members. Itis limited by the complexity of some of the issues and the committee's need for further evaluation, discussion, and documentation of itsfindings beyond what was practicable within the schedule permittedfor the interim report.

The committee's final report in 1996 will address the following topics:

  1. Research and Development Program Structure and Funding Mechanisms. The committee will review EPA's new strategic plans for research and development. In the contextof those plans, the committee will assess EPA's research and developmentprogram activities, funding levels, funding mechanisms, and researchdecisionmaking procedures. It will assess the mix of research themesand topics among program categories and the balance between long-termand short-term research, intramural and extramural research, variousmechanisms for extramural research, anticipatory versus current needsresearch, and research versus technical services.

  2. Peer-Review Procedures. The committee will assess and, if warranted, recommend measuresto improve EPA's scientific peer-review and quality-assurance proceduresfor research proposals, intramural and extramural research work productsand publications, and scientific assessments performed for regulatoryapplications.

  3. Long-term Research Program Plans. The committee will review the ongoing research grants and researchcenters programs of EPA's Office of Exploratory Research, includingthe collaborative grants program with NSF. It will also review theplans for an expanded long-term research program, including in-houseresearch activities, intramural investigator-initiated competitiveresearch grants, and extramural investigator-initiated



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