The proposed Bulletin is gathering a lot of attention. Neutral Source brings you up to date.
On January 9 the U.S. Office of Management and Budget proposed new government-wide guidelines for federal agency conduct and use of risk assessment. OMB states that public comments should be submitted by June 15 and that the Bulletin is “scheduled for completion in late 2006.”
OMB also asked for a review of the proposed Bulletin by the National Academy of Sciences, which posted the names of the provisional members of the ad hoc committee on April 10. These members are:
Dr. John F. Ahearne – (Chair)
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
Dr. George V. Alexeeff
California Environmental Protection Agency
Dr. Gregory B. Baecher
University of Maryland, College Park
Dr. A. John Bailer
Miami University of Ohio
Dr. Roger M. Cooke
Resources for the Future, Inc.
Dr. Charles E. Feigley
University of South Carolina
Dr. Baruch Fischhoff
Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Rose H. Goldman
Harvard Medical School
Dr. Robert H. Haveman
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. William E. Kastenberg
University of California, Berkeley
Ms. Sally Katzen
George Mason University
Dr. Raymond C. Loehr
The University of Texas at Austin [Retired]
Dr. Eduardo Miranda
Dr. Michael Newman
College of William and Mary Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Dr. Dorothy E. Patton
Environmental Protection Agency [Retired]
Dr. Charles Poole
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dr. Danny D. Reible
The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Joseph V. Rodricks
ENVIRON International Corporation
The public has until April 30 (20 calendar days) to submit comments concerning their fitness for service. NAS is governed by a special section of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which was amended in 1997 in part to overturn case law which made NAS subject to all FACA requirements.
In Sec. 15(b)(1), Congress delegated to NAS the authority to decide how much opportunity for public comment it should permit:
The Academy shall determine and provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to comment on such appointments before they are made or, if the Academy determines such prior comment is not practicable, in the period immediately following the appointments.
The practical utility of post hoc comments is not clear. Thus, the NAS’ 20-calendar day review, which was not publicly noticed prior to the Committee’s provisional creation, constitutes the Academy’s interpretation of its legal responsibilities under FACA. The process for commenting is set forth below:
Viewers may communicate with the National Academies at any time over the project’s duration. In addition, formal comments on the provisional appointments to a committee of the National Academies are solicited during the 20-calendar day period following the posting of the membership and, as described below, these comments will be considered before committee membership is finalized. We welcome your comments (Use the Feedback link below).
Please note that the appointments made to this committee are provisional, and changes may be made. No appointment shall be considered final until we have evaluated relevant information bearing on the committee’s composition and balance. This information will include the confidential written disclosures to The National Academies by each member-designate concerning potential sources of bias and conflict of interest pertaining to his or her service on the committee; information from discussion of the committee’s composition and balance that is conducted in closed session at its first meeting and again whenever its membership changes; and any public comments that we have received on the membership during the 20-calendar day formal public comment period. If additional members are appointed to this committee, an additional 20-calendar day formal public comment period will be allowed. It is through this process that we determine whether the committee contains the requisite expertise to address its task and whether the points of views of individual members are adequately balanced such that the committee as a whole can address its charge objectively.of period. Consistent with prior practice, NAS did not notify the public that it had posted this list
The NAS “Feedback Link” is here. NAS does not clearly state the extent to which comments on the provisional Committee members and composition of the Committee are kept confidential within the staff, shared within the provisional committee, or made public.
The Committee’s website gives the following information about the scope of its review:
The committee will conduct a scientific review of the Proposed Risk Assessment Bulletin recently released by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Specifically, the committee will determine whether the application of the proposed guidance will meet OMB’s stated objective to “enhance the technical quality and objectivity of risk assessments prepared by federal agencies.” In performing its task, the committee will comment, in general terms, on how the guidance will affect the practice of risk assessment in the federal government. The committee will identify critical elements that might be missing from the guidance. The committee will also determine whether OMB appropriately incorporated recommendations from previous reports of the NRC and other organizations into the proposed risk assessment guidance. In addition, the committee will assess whether there are scientific or technical circumstances that might limit applicability of the guidance.This project is cosponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Labor (DOL).
The approximate start date for the project is March 22, 2006.
A report will be issued at the end of the project in approximately 11 months.
Assuming the NAS schedule is kept, the earliest the Committee will report is February 2007. A fair inference is that OMB will not meet its end-of-year deadline for finalization.
The first public meeting of the Committee is scheduled for May 21.