identify leaders within sectors and regions who are interested in science translation (Jacobs 2002). The cost of capacity building in terms of time and resources is often underestimated and is a frequent reason for delays in public processes (Farrell et al. 2001; Parson et al. 2003). Indeed, the NRC (2004) noted the need for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) to build capacity in newer areas of its program, including decision-support activities. Nonetheless, efforts focused on capacity building and decision support can ensure salience, credibility, and legitimacy and improve the transition between research and applications, particularly for assessments that address adaptive capacity and resilience in the context of global change (Morgan et al. 1999; Moser and Dilling 2007).
Investments in capacity building can have payoffs in multiple areas, including expanding the informed audience for the assessment, contributing to future assessment effectiveness, expanding the ability of decision makers to act on scientific information, equipping participants with new knowledge in assessment methodology and tools, and building a scientific community that is more sensitive to needs and concerns of the broader society. In some cases the value of the assessment process, which may involve considerable time commitments on the part of participants, might not be immediately apparent. Thus, additional effort may be required to communicate the benefits and to structure the questions and process such that they are relevant to the participants the assessment aims to engage.
Effectively linking science with decision making entails challenges beyond those of negotiating the appropriate science-policy interface and effectively engaging stakeholders. Decision makers often point to the lack of salience of assessments for their decision-making process due to a mismatch in the scale or timing of the information available (Jacobs et al. 2005). In other instances, the complexity of the issue presented is too great to assist in the decision-making process (Scheraga and Smith 1990). In addition, available policy analysis tools (e.g., cost-benefit analysis) are sometimes inadequate for global change issues such as climate change (Morgan et al. 1999). Because of the uncertainty and complexity associated with issues such as climate change, decision makers require analyses that allow them to assess the accuracy of the available information and the potential effectiveness and risk associated with certain policies (Scheraga and Smith 1990; Jacobs et al. 2005).
Decision-oriented analyses and tools could be developed as part of a larger-scale process, impact, or response assessment, to connect the information with the appropriate decision framework (Scheraga and Smith 1990). The Regional Integrated Science Assessments, sponsored by the