dose reconstruction process. It is important for readers of this report to understand that dose reconstruction generally is an exercise in applying subjective scientific judgment. In much the same way, the committee’s conclusions on the adequacy of the program of dose reconstruction for atomic veterans rely to a significant extent on judgment, which is founded on the nature and extent of information on dose reconstructions that was available to the committee.
Moreover, in the process of adjudicating claims, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in recognition of the unavoidable uncertainty that attends historical dose reconstructions (and in the spirit of regulations that specify that the veteran should be given the benefit of the doubt), relies on specified upper bounds of doses rather than best or central estimates of dose. The committee was more concerned with whether uncertainties in estimated doses had been appropriately addressed than with exactly where on the distribution of possible values a particular actual dose lay. That was the committee’s approach to interpreting and addressing the “accuracy” issue with respect to dose reconstructions.
The question about whether doses were “accurately reported” to the veterans is much more straightforward to address, but the unavoidable uncertainties inherent in dose reconstruction are important here as well. The committee believes that uncertainties in assigned doses should be carefully explained and reported to VA for compensation purposes and also to the veterans.
With regard to whether the source data on nuclear-weapons tests used by DTRA are accurate, we interpreted this question as asking whether the historical data that have been comprehensively compiled are sufficiently accurate and complete for use in dose reconstruction. Such original source data would include the instrument-based measurements made at the time of the tests, weapons-debris data, film-badge records, and historical records of activities and movements of personnel participating in the tests. The data that dose reconstructions are based on and the uncertainties in them clearly are important in the estimation of doses and upper bounds provided by the Nuclear Test Personnel Review (NTPR) program to VA.
The committee recognizes that the intent of the scope of work was to focus its attention on the technical methods and assumptions being used in dose reconstructions, the historical data on which dose reconstructions are based, and how the results are being reported to VA and communicated to the veterans. Those questions encompass a range of issues, including specific scientific methods, judgments about scenarios of exposure, and effective communication with veterans. Therefore, the committee has taken a broad view of its scope out of necessity and its desire to do a thorough, defensible, and enduring job. The committee hopes that the process it has used will help to answer questions that have lingered for many years regarding dose reconstructions performed for the atomic veterans compensation program. The committee also hopes that its process will provide guidance for making improvements in the program as a whole.
In its statement of task, the committee was asked to issue an interim letter report with recommendations if after a year it concluded that its findings differed