GAC Response Letter, 2006
March 7, 2006
Plácido dos Santos
Chair, U.S. Governmental Advisory Committee
Border Environmental Manager
Arizona Dept. of Environmental Quality
400 W. Congress Street, Suite 521
Tucson, AZ 85701
Dear Mr. dos Santos:
Thank you for the Governmental Advisory Committee's (GAC) November 22 advice in follow-up to your October, 2005 meeting. Your advice on the involvement of the private sector in the CEC work, CEC budget reforms, CEC publications, and the future role of working groups has informed the decisions and actions of the United States in regard to the CEC over the last several months.
On behalf of the EPA Administrator and the United States, we offer the following response to your advice:
Private Sector Involvement
Thank you very much for your efforts and recommendations regarding private sector involvement in the CEC. As you know, following recommendations from the NAC and the GAC, the United States sponsored a Private Sector Initiative meeting on January 5th, facilitated by the Secretariat, with representation from Canadian, Mexican, and US Industries and business councils, as well as government officials. As a result of this meeting, we have developed a draft strategy focusing on greening supply networks across North America in the automotive and electronics sectors. We are currently refining this strategy and assessing resource needs, milestones and expected outcomes. We will also consider the GAC's other recommendations on the elements and scope of this program, including the proposed recognition programs for this effort.
In regard to your advice on CEC Budget Reform, we appreciate your support of our efforts to institutionalize full financial disclosure of all Secretariat expenses. Over the last few months, we have developed new budget documents and formats with the CEC Secretariat that facilitate disclosure, transparency, and accountability. We plan to continue refining these documents to meet the Council's information and transparency needs while minimizing unnecessary reporting. We are also planning to develop performance measures over the course of 2006 and incorporate them in the 2007 Operational Plan.
Regarding your advice on CEC Publications, we appreciate your support of our effort to streamline and create accountability in the CEC publications procedure, and your thoughtful assessment of the best way to address this issue. We appreciate the GAC's concern for minimizing bureaucracy and maintaining the Secretariat's independence, as described in the NAAEC. Certainly, the CEC strategic planning effort will resolve some issues that have arisen over publications in the past. We also acknowledge the need for early involvement and attention from the Council and within the United States government in order to prevent misunderstandings.
In order to facilitate this involvement, and following the guidance of the Alternate Representatives, the CEC Secretariat is currently working on developing quality management guidelines for all projects, activities, and publications. Regarding publications, these guidelines will help identify different types of publications, levels of Council participation and review, and approvals required before publication. The document will be based on the Quality Management Framework developed by the Information Experts, and the publication procedures will be based on the "publications reform guidance" proposed by the United States. The Secretariat expects to finalize the draft document for Party review by the end of March 2006.
Thank you for your advice regarding the CEC Working Groups. Unfortunately, due to the urgency of other matters before the CEC, the issue of the future of working groups (WGs) has not yet been discussed by the three Parties.
At present, five Council-created WGs support various aspects of the CEC's work: the Sound Management of Chemicals WG (SMOC), the North American Air Working Group (NAAWG), the Biodiversity Conservation Working Group (BCWG), the Enforcement Working Groups (EWG), and the 10(6) WG on Trade and Environment. Several other ad hoc expert groups, committees and task forces have been created to contribute to and guide the work of the CEC on more specific topics.
The current position of the United States is that the 10(6) WG should be integrated into the Trade & Environment pillar; and the Pollutant Release and Toxic Registry (PRTR) ad hoc expert group should be included under the Information pillar. Thus, four WGs would remain: SMOC, NAAWG, BCWG and EWG. As a counterpoint to the substantive WGs (which are substantive areas that are clearly identified in the NAAEC as objectives for enhanced cooperation among the three Parties), the United States is also proposing to create three Pillar "Expert" groups, which would be responsible for ensuring that the projects and activities proposed by the WGs further the strategic objectives of the three CEC priorities. This would create a matrix management approach to the annual CEC work plan. The intent of the "Pillar" groups is to encourage collaboration between programs within each pillar, while still allowing for expert management of individual programs.
Our proposed structure is attached, with more details regarding roles and responsibilities. Of course, we look forward to clarifying this matter with Canada and Mexico as soon as possible.
As always, the United States appreciates the advice of the Governmental Advisory Committee, which helps us to understand the views of the public on critical environmental issues in North America. In preparation for your upcoming meeting, we would particularly appreciate your continued advice on the private sector initiative, and your advice on best practices for peer review. We also invite your reflection on CEC's activities and the best way to make the most significant impact in North America, working through the current CEC Strategic Plan.
We look forward to further collaboration with you as the 2006 Operational Plan and work program is implemented.
Acting Office Director
Office of International Environmental Policy
M. Dolores Wesson, Chair, U.S. National Advisory