to assess radiation exposures of atomic veterans. Science Applications Incorporated (now Science Applications International Corporation, SAIC) has held a contract to perform dose reconstructions for military personnel almost since the inception of the Nuclear Test Personnel Review (NTPR) program. SAIC eventually teamed with JAYCOR, which is responsible for confirming each veteran’s status as a participant in the testing program and developing background information for estimating exposures to the veterans, such as detailed records of activities of veterans’ units at the NTS or in the Pacific. From the inception of the dose reconstruction and compensation programs, the responsibilities of DTRA and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have been different. DTRA is responsible for confirming service status, estimating doses to participants, and reporting doses to VA; VA is the primary avenue of contact for the veterans and is responsible for determining eligibility for compensation.
In April 1998, the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing that focused on radiation issues concerning the efficacy of current legislation governing compensation benefits for radiation-exposed veterans. The hearings highlighted the controversy about the use of dose reconstruction as a tool for determining veterans’ eligibility for benefits. In August 1998, the Senate committee asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to review available information related to dose reconstruction to determine its reliability for measuring veterans’ radiation exposures and to assess the completeness of historical records that are used to assign radiation doses. GAO completed its review in January 2000 and found that although dose reconstruction is a valid method of estimating veterans’ doses for compensation claims and no better alternative was identified, the program lacks an independent review process.
In December 2000, in response to GAO’s findings, the National Research Council was asked to review the DTRA dose reconstruction program, and the present committee was formed for this purpose. The committee was charged by Congress to conduct a review that included the random selection of samples of doses reconstructed by DTRA to determine
Whether or not the reconstruction of the sample doses is accurate.
Whether or not the reconstructed doses are accurately reported.
Whether or not the assumptions made regarding radiation exposure based on the sampled doses are credible.
Whether or not the data from nuclear tests used by DTRA as part of the reconstruction of the sampled doses are accurate.
The committee was asked to make recommendations, if appropriate, on a permanent system of review of the DTRA dose reconstruction program.
To address the questions posed in the committee’s statement of task summarized above, it is important to understand the capabilities and limits of historical dose reconstruction in general. Dose reconstruction can be a complex, tedious, and intensive undertaking, and there often is substantial uncertainty in estimates