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    Subject Term: Scientists

    3 publications with a total of 5 open recommendations
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure compliance with ERDDAA when handling congressional requests for scientific advice from EPA's SAB, the EPA Administrator should document procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests to determine which questions should be taken up by the SAB and criteria for evaluating such requests.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, EPA finalized procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests for advice from the Science Advisory Board (SAB). According to EPA officials, the agency will also make modifications to the SAB charter to be consistent with the process. When the charter is updated, we will review it to determine whether clarifying language included meets the intent of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure compliance with ERDDAA when handling congressional requests for scientific advice from EPA's SAB, the EPA Administrator should clarify in policy documents when it is and when it is not appropriate for the EPA Administrator to forward advice to the requesting committee.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, EPA finalized procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests for advice from the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to determine which questions should be taken up by the SAB. These procedures, however, do not ensure compliance with ERDDAA because they fail to recognize that under ERDDAA, the SAB is required to provide requested scientific advice to select committees. The procedures lay out a process and criteria for reviewing congressional requests for SAB advice which include: 1) the scope of EPA's legal authorities; 2) whether the requested advice is related to the science and technical aspect of the environmental issue, rather than a question of public policy; and 3) EPA priorities and strategic plan. The relevant criterion for determining whether the SAB should take up a question, however, is whether it is scientific in nature. The other criteria may be relevant to EPA's prioritization of requests to the SAB in light of the SAB's limited resources.
    Director: Johana Ayers
    Phone: (202) 512-5741

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help manage the risks from changes in conference participation and any potential effects on the defense S&T enterprise, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, in consultation with the Office of the DCMO, to develop a plan to analyze and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences for any potential effects on DOD's ability to meet its scientific mission, including identifying and collecting additional information needed to conduct this analysis.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2015, DOD updated its conference approval guidelines. According to DOD, these guidelines were designed to facilitate conference participation and attendance by DOD employees. The updated guidelines now treat conference attendance as Temporary Duty/Temporary Assigned Duty, and delegate approval authority to the lowest level possible. However, DOD has not yet implemented a requirement to develop a plan and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences as of June 2016 because officials in the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer believe this recommendation in GAO-15-278 is no longer applicable as a result of its updated conference approval guidelines. We disagree and believe this recommendation continues to have merit in order for DOD to better understand and manage the risks to achieving its S&T mission from any future changes in conference participation, and to determine if any future actions to adjust its conference approval guidelines are warranted.
    Recommendation: To help manage the risks from changes in conference participation and any potential effects on the defense S&T enterprise, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Administrator of NNSA and the relevant national lab directors, in consultation with DOE's Office of Management, to develop a plan to analyze and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences for any potential effects on NNSA's ability to meet its scientific mission, including identifying and collecting additional information needed to conduct this analysis.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2015, DOE updated its conference management policies and procedures to, among other things, expedite the conference attendance approval process by establishing timeframes for review and approval. According to DOE, as of September 2016, streamlining the conference approval process eliminates the need to periodically evaluate risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences. We disagree and believe this recommendation continues to have merit in order for DOE to better understand and manage the risks to achieving its S&T mission from any future changes in conference participation, and to determine if any future actions to adjust its conference approval guidelines are warranted.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-9338

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve cohesion in the management and operation of EPA's laboratories, the Administrator of EPA should establish a top-level science official with the authority and responsibility to coordinate, oversee, and make management decisions regarding major scientific activities throughout the agency, including the work of all program, regional, and ORD laboratories.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA took some steps toward establishing a top-level science official with responsibilities to coordinate and oversee the laboratories, but the agency did not expand this official's authority to make management decisions regarding scientific activities for the laboratories.