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Evaluating Research Efficiency in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Appendix D The Environmental Protection Agency’s Strategic and Multi-year Planning Process The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is guided by the principles of the President’s Management Agenda to be “citizen-centered, results-oriented, and market-based” (EPA 2006, p. 149). The EPA strategic plan delineates goals and describes how to achieve them, taking into account planning, budgeting, accountability, and performance measurements. Annual performance goals and measures are stated to track progress and achievements toward a long-term strategic goal. EPA’s annual Performance and Accountability Report then assesses performance toward a particular goal that helps to delineate priorities and develop future budgets. Through evaluating performance measures to develop planning and decision-making, new environmental indicators are developed and described in the Report on the Environment (published every 4 years). The Report on the Environment further improves long-term measures in the strategic plan. EPA’s goals, measures, and accountability are advanced through accurate, timely environmental data. In the Report on the Environment—Technical Document, EPA provides a snapshot of current environmental conditions and a baseline against which accomplishments are measured. The environmental indicator, as described in the Report on the Environment, has facilitated identification of strategic goals, objectives and subobjectives, and strategic targets, which may be translated into measurable environmental results. Environmental trends show key concerns (data needs) and emerging issues and demonstrate the effectiveness of agencies in improving environmental quality. Budget and performance information, which is integrated in the strategic plan, can be used in long-term measures that meet Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) requirements (EPA 2006, p. 150):
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Evaluating Research Efficiency in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA collects and analyzes performance information against these measures to assess program performance over time and to evaluate the effectiveness of approaches to environmental problems. Based on these evaluations, we can adjust or modify our strategies to achieve better results. To encourage EPA staff and our partners to be accountable for delivering environmental results effectively and cost efficiently, we are also incorporating performance measures in EPA managers’ performance agreements and, as appropriate, in our contracts, grants, and memoranda of understanding. The strategic plan is developed in consultation with stakeholders and partners. In the development process, EPA managers organize meetings, participate in conferences and present briefings to assist with understanding, and receive commentary from stakeholders and partners. Through a long public-comment period and multiple revisions, an EPA strategic plan is adopted. Steps in the 2006-2011 strategic-plan development process included Early consultation on state and tribal issues and priorities. A draft architecture and full-draft release. Consultation with Congress and state and tribal partners. Work is under way to update the strategic plan for 2009-2014. Since 2003, EPA has advocated five strategic goals. The current EPA strategic plan is for FY 2006-2011 and lists the following as goals and objectives: Goal 1: Clean Air and Global Climate Change Objective 1.1: Healthier Outdoor Air Objective 1.2: Healthier Indoor Air Objective 1.3: Protect the Ozone Layer Objective 1.4: Radiation Objective 1.5: Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Objective 1.6: Enhance Science and Research Goal 2: Clean and Safe Water Objective 2.1: Protect Human Health Objective 2.2: Protect Water Quality Objective 2.3: Enhance Science and Research Goal 3: Land Preservation and Restoration Objective 3.1: Preserve Land Objective 3.2: Restore Land Objective 3.3: Enhance Science and Research Goal 4: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems Objective 4.1: Chemical, Organism, and Pesticide Risks Objective 4.2: Communities Objective 4.3: Restore and Protect Critical Ecosystems
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Evaluating Research Efficiency in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Objective 4.4: Enhance Science and Research Goal 5: Compliance and Environmental Stewardship Objective 5.1: Achieve Environmental Protection Through Improved Compliance Objective 5.2: Improve Environmental Performance Through Pollution Prevention and Other Stewardship Practices Objective 5.3: Improve Human Health and the Environment in Indian Country Objective 5.4: Enhance Society’s Capacity for Sustainability Through Science and Research (EPA 2006) Within each goal, “emerging issues and external factors” are discussed; they identify probable challenges in the forthcoming years. In an effort to provide transparency to the public and other agencies, chapters of the strategic plan address the development of long-term measures and their relationship to annual performance measures used by OMB’s PART. The strategic plan also discusses the development of indicators for EPA’s Report on the Environment. As an example of how the strategic plan is related to performance measures through the multi-year plan (MYP) and research plans, an objective of the goal 1 (Clean Air and Global Climate Change) is discussed below. For every objective in the strategic plan and MYP, there are subobjectives and targets. EPA uses MYPs for the research that works toward achieving the objectives in the strategic plan. It is usually at the MYP level that performance measures are evaluated. Research directions are used to develop research strategies, which are ultimately translated into performance measures in MYPs (EPA 2003a). An MYP is designed as a more detailed description of research and also embodies the goals of the ORD and EPA strategic plans (EPA 2003b). “Goal 1—Clean Air and Global Climate Change ‘EPA is dedicated to improving the quality of the air Americans breathe’ (EPA 2006, p. 11). To achieve this EPA develops regulations and programs with tribes, business, industry and other governments to reduce air pollution. ‘Objective 1.1: Healthier Outdoor Air [listed as objective 1.1 Outdoor Air in MYP]’ (EPA 2003b, p. 5) ‘Subobjectives: Ozone and PM2.5, Chronically Acidic Water Bodies and Air Toxics’” (EPA 2006, pp. 12-13). For demonstration purposes, the “air toxics” subobjective is further detailed in the strategic-plan targets in the MYP and finally in the research plan and strategy. The strategic-plan goal for air toxics is “By 2011, reduce the risk to public health and the environment from toxic air pollutants by working with partners to reduce air toxics emissions and implement area-specific approaches” (EPA 2006, p. 13).
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Evaluating Research Efficiency in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency To further refine the strategic-plan goal, a number of targets are listed. The targets for air toxics include “By 2010, reduce toxicity-weighted (for cancer risk) emissions of air toxics to a cumulative reduction of 19 percent from the 1993 non-weighted baseline of 7.24 million tons.” “By 2010, reduce toxicity-weighted (for non-cancer risk) emissions of air toxics to a cumulative reduction of 55 percent from the 1993 non-weighted baseline of 7.24 million tons” (EPA 2006, p. 13). To reach the strategic-plan targets, allow for performance measurement, and determine whether EPA is conducting valuable or appropriate research to reach the targets, the MYP is used. EPA established the following objective in the MYP for air toxics: “Through 2010, and consistent with established schedules, emissions of outdoor air pollutants will continue to decline, and ambient air quality will improve to or be maintained at levels that protect public health and the environment. Healthy air for the other pollutants will be maintained for the 123.7 million people that had healthy air in 2001” (EPA 2003b, p. 5). Again, to track progress in reaching the goal, the MYP establishes subobjectives. For air toxics, they are “Control stationary sources of air toxics by using market-based and other regulatory programs to reduce emissions using the following target:” “By 2007, federal air toxics regulations will reduce air toxics emissions by 2.2 million tons from their 1993 level of 3.7 million tons making absolute emissions reductions in air toxics compared to 2000 levels.” “Control mobile sources through federal regulations that will reduce air toxics emissions by 1.1 million tons from the 1996 level of 2.7 million tons.” “Reducing health risks and environmental effects from area source air toxics pollution found in localities including Indian country.” “Reduce air toxics risk at the local level by building on federally regulated emissions reductions.” “Milestones: 1) 2004 public release of the revised National Air Toxics Assessment based on the 1999 inventory and 2) Development of an air toxics monitoring program, and the ability to characterize and assess trends for 20% of the Indian tribes in 2010” (EPA 2003b, pp. 5-6). For the subobjectives to be reached, EPA must undertake research that will define health risks associated with, environmental effects of, and methods of control of air toxics from different sources. To accomplish that task, EPA develops research strategies or plans with strategic principles that aid in guiding decisions and supporting ORD’s research priorities as listed in the budget and MYP. For air toxics, a list of questions is used to identify which air toxics to study, what specific research to undertake, and the priorities in that research.
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Evaluating Research Efficiency in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency The research plan questions for the air-toxics subobjective are as follows (EPA 2002): What are the sources of air toxics, and what are their characteristics? What is the role of atmospheric transport, transformation, fate, and chemistry in air toxics concentrations (including indoor, micro-scale, urban, terrestrial, and regional concentrations)? What is the relationship of concentrations of air toxics (from outdoor and indoor sources) to personal exposure? What are the health hazards and dose-response relationships associated with exposure to air toxics? What improvements can be made to dose-response assessments? What health risks can be characterized quantitatively for people exposed to air toxics? What risks from air toxics can be prevented and managed cost effectively? A general subset of research activities arising from those questions consists of developing measurements, databases, methods, and biomarkers; validating models; identifying chemical mechanisms; and evaluating exposure concentrations. REFERENCES EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2002. Air Toxics Research Strategy. EPA-600-R-00-056. Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC [online]. Available: http://www.epa.gov/ord/htm/documents/Air_Toxics.pdf [accessed Nov. 14, 2007]. EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2003a. 2003-2008 Strategic Plan: Direction for the Future. EPA-190-R-03-003. Office of Chief Planning Officer, Office of Planning Analysis and Accountability, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC [online]. Available: http://www.epa.gov/epainnov/pdf/innovplan.pdf [accessed Nov 14, 2007]. EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2003b. Air Toxics Multi-Year Plan. Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC [online]. Available: http://www.epa.gov/osp/myp/airtox.pdf [accessed Nov. 14, 2007]. EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2006. 2006-2011 Strategic Plan: Charting Our Course. EPA-190-R-06-001. Office of Chief Planning Officer, Office of Planning Analysis and Accountability, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC [online]. Available: http://www.epa.gov/cfo/plan/2006/entire_report.pdf [accessed Nov. 14, 2007].