FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE
The fragmented jurisdictions among U.S. Federal agencies charged with environmental stewardship
compound difficulties in coordinating environmental research and in communicating scientific results to
decisionmakers and the public. Certain, relatively minor, changes in governmental institutions could
significantly improve efficiency and communication among scientists and between scientists and
Science needs to be synthesized and translated for policy
makers, in order to help them make decisions in the face
of conflicting or incomplete scientific information.
Scientists and policymakers need to be educated broadly and
must understand each other’s disciplines and perspectives.
The coordination of scientific research needs to be improved
so that it is appropriate, timely, and relevant to the policy being
Research needs to meet the needs of decisionmakers. There
should be periodic scientific analysis of the effectiveness of
policy actions in reaching stated goals.
The infrastructure for environmental research should be
strengthened. New entities that will focus specifically on
science for environmental decisionmaking need to be created.
1. The government should develop institutions and
- help policymakers and scientists to interact
- help scientists to anticipate the needs of agency
- identify and analyze short-term and long-term information
2. Federal science and resource management agencies
need “policy centers” that will:
- assess the policy implications of the science
- conduct peer review of proposed policies
- conduct post-implementation evaluation of policies.
The Centers should include environmental, economic, and
social information and expertise, and involve scientists from
outside the agency.
3. Congress should establish a Joint Committee on
the Environment (analogous to the Joint Economic
4. Scientists need training in environmental policy,
and policymakers need training in understanding
science. The President should require all appointees
to attend science workshops.
5. The government should have formal processes in
place through which to develop consensus on policy
recommendations based on the current state of
knowledge (modeled on the National Institutes of
Health consensus panel process). This could possibly
be one function of a resurrected Office of Technology
Assessment (OTA), which is also recommended.
6. Congress should resurrect the Office of Technology
7. Congress should create a Bureau of Environmental
Statistics (analogous to the Bureau of Labor