BOX 6-2

The Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management

The Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management (hereafter the commission) was established by Congress in 1990 legislation amending the Clean Air Act (Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management, 1997a,b). The 10 commission members, appointed by the president and leaders of both parties in Congress, included leading scientists with expertise in biological sciences applicable to public health and environmental problems. The commission was chartered to “make a full investigation of the policy implications and appropriate uses of risk assessment and risk management in regulatory programs under various Federal laws to prevent cancer and other chronic health effects which may result from exposure to hazardous substances” (Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management, 1997a:i).

This purview overlapped considerably with that of the present study, in that federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, spend much of their budgets dealing with hazardous substances in the environment.

The commission conducted an extensive set of hearings with stakeholder groups in a variety of locations across the United States. It developed a six-step risk management framework as the basis for its recommendations for reform of federal agency practices (Charnley, 2003; North, 2003; Omenn, 2003; Presidential/ Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management, 1997a,b; see Figure 6-1) and produced a set of recommendations very similar to those made in Understanding Risk:


Based on an assessment of multiple sources of evidence, Chapters 4, 5, and 6 identify sets of empirically supported principles of good public participation practice—for project management, for organizing the participation, and for integrating the science. We summarize them in Box 6-3. These principles echo those that can be found in sources of guidance derived mainly from practitioners’ experiences and, in that sense, the principles are not new. Our findings do, however, reinforce at least certain aspects of the collected experiential knowledge with other sources of support.

The main challenge facing practitioners is to find practical ways to implement the principles of good public participation practice. As we note throughout this volume, practitioners have developed numerous formats,

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