performance audits are usually easily accessed, thoroughly contested, and empirically rich. Judicial decisions discussing “best science” issues should be made readily available in summary or abbreviated form to all agency personnel. Court cases examining the reach and meaning of “best scientific information available” provide NOAA Fisheries with a hard-look doctrine of the courts. Procedural consistency would provide the agency with a stronger basis for defending decisions in court. More specifically, guidelines that address issues of relevance, objectivity, transparency, timeliness, peer review, and the treatment of uncertainty are consistent with the procedural cues that have been sought in the court cases documented in Appendix H. Courts have reversed and remanded agency decisions contrary to “best scientific information available” concepts that are intuitive, ad hoc, and derived from values articulated in individual judicial decisions. However, the “common law” of judicial review of “best scientific information available” is insufficiently mature, elaborate, and credible for day-to-day use within NOAA Fisheries.



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