Risk Assessment Forum Charter
UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
RISK ASSESSMENT FORUM CHARTER
OBJECTIVES, ORGANIZATION, AND PROCEDURES
RISK ASSESSMENT FORUM
1. PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES.
The Risk Assessment Forum (Forum) was established to promote consensus on risk assessment issues, as defined in the 1983 Report of the National Research Council and to ensure that this consensus is incorporated into appropriate Agency risk assessment guidance. To fulfill this purpose, the Forum assembles risk assessment experts from throughout the Agency in a formal process to study and report on these issues from an Agency-wide scientific perspective.
2. SCOPE OF ACTIVITY.
The Forum focuses on generic issues fundamental to the risk assessment process and related science policy issues. Forum consensus building activities may include: developing science policy on technical issues, definitive risk assessment guidance, and risk assessment methodology for use in ongoing and prospective Agency actions; conducting scientific and technical analysis upon which to base risk assessment positions; and sponsoring colloquia and workshops to foster consensus on risk assessment issues. The Forum does not provide peer review and quality assurance of risk assessments developed by other EPA organizations or review nonscientific risk management issues; however, the Forum may undertake special projects at the request of the Deputy Administrator (or delegatee). Major Forum guidance documents are developed in accordance with the Agency's regulatory and policy development process and become Agency policy upon approval by the Administrator or the Deputy Administrator.
The Forum staff consists of an Executive Director and science coordinators who are based in the Office of Research and Development. The Executive Director is selected by the Assistant Administrator for Research and Development through the usual merit promotion procedures. The Executive Director functions as the Chief Operating Officer of the Forum, and, as such, directs the staff so as to assure that all logistical and operational needs of the Forum are met including: arranging meetings, colloquia and workshops to develop topics for the Forum's agenda, assisting technical panels in all aspects of product development, obtaining extramural support for Forum projects as needed, working with offices involved to present issues to the Forum, providing liaison between the Forum and other EPA and non-EPA organizations, and submitting progress reports from the Forum to the Deputy Administrator (or delegatee), as appropriate.
Forum Members, Oversight Groups and Steering Committee
Forum members are selected senior scientists from Agency program offices, laboratories and regions. Selection of members for the Forum is based on experience and expertise in risk assessment and underlying disciplines such as toxicology, chemistry, ecology, epidemiology, and statistics. Although Forum membership is not based on office affiliation, the over-all composition of the Forum reflects a balance of scientific disciplines and Agency experience.
A Chairperson of the Forum will be appointed by the Deputy Administrator in consultation with the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development. Responsibilities of the Chairperson include: chairing Forum meetings; developing, along with the Executive Director, the Forum's agenda and schedule; and assisting the Executive Director in liaison with senior Agency officials.
Each Forum member is assigned by the Executive Director to one of four Oversight Groups, representing special expertise and interest in human exposure, ecology, cancer and health effects other than cancer. One member of each Oversight Group is elected by the Oversight Group members, with the concurrence of the Executive Director, to serve as Oversight Group chair.
The four Oversight Group chairs, the Forum Chairperson, and Executive Director form the Forum Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is responsible for approving proposed Forum projects and schedules, ensuring the scientific quality of Forum products, and organizing the nomination/selection of new Forum members.
In addition to the scientists selected by the Forum, the Forum organization may include one designated representative from each office (AA-level) that has risk assessment responsibilities (the program offices, ORD, OPPE, and each region) that is not represented on the Forum membership for any year. Designated representatives receive Forum mailings and may attend Forum meetings as observers. They serve as liaisons between their offices and the Forum on matters such as identification of issues for Forum analysis, staffing Forum technical panels and other sub-committees, and other issues of concern to their respective offices.
For each activity, the Forum establishes a technical panel (or other special committee) of scientific experts to conduct scientific review and analysis. Panel members are chosen to assure that necessary technical expertise is represented. Scientific experts from interested and affected offices are invited to participate. Outside experts, particularly scientists from other governmental agencies, may be invited to participate as consultants or, as appropriate, panel members. Each technical panel is assigned to one of the Oversight Groups that provides technical oversight and review. The Executive Director designates a chairperson who is responsible for developing a workplan and meeting deadlines.
4. MEMBERSHIP AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Each year, candidates are nominated by the programs, ORD and the regions to replace members who have completed their terms. Selection for membership is made by a panel consisting of the Forum Steering Committee and three Agency senior managers drawn from ORD, program offices and regions. Managerial panel members affiliations will change each year. The selection process attempts to balance scientific disciplines and Agency experience. In selecting Forum members, considerable weight is given toprevious participation on Forum technical panels and how the candidate's expertise complements that of other members. Members are appointed for staggered three-year terms.
The Steering Committee will fill any vacancies that occur for the remainder of the term of any member leaving the Forum before their term expires.
The specific responsibilities of the Forum as a whole include:
- identifying risk assessment issues appropriate for Forum review;
- establishing and supporting technical panels of scientific experts to undertake relevant analyses;
- developing guideline recommendations (changes, new methodology, or both);
- developing and articulating the scientific or technical basis for risk assessment analyses and guidelines produced by the Forum;
- facilitating resolution of differing inter-office views on risk assessment issues by organizing colloquia and workshops for dialogue on special risk assessment issues;
- presenting the scientific uncertainties and limitations associated with any Forum analysis;
- advising on the science policy implications of reports and other Forum products;
- consulting and coordinating with relevant Agency offices on Forum activities;
- responding to recommendations of the Deputy Administrator (or delegatee) regarding Forum plans and products;
- recommending additional scientific or technical research, as appropriate.
Individual Forum members are responsible for:
- disseminating information about Forum activities within their offices and coordinating reviews of Forum documents within their offices;
- attending Oversight Group meetings and full Forum meetings (by phone or in person);
- actively participating in at least one technical panel.
Designated representatives are responsible for:
- disseminating information about Forum activities within their offices and coordinating reviews of Forum documents within their offices.
Forum Staff are responsible for:
- disseminating information about Forum activities and coordinating internal and external reviews of Forum documents;
- notifying the Deputy Administrator (or delegatee) of Forum projects, including workplans and schedules;
- securing from the Deputy Administrator (or delegatee) support for Forum projects and necessary resources;
- notifying supervisors of new members and designated representatives in writing of their Forum status and attendant rights and responsibilities, including time and resources which are expected to be dedicated to Forum activities;
- providing Forum members and designated representatives with regular status reports including descriptions of ongoing projects, panel chairs and schedules;
- organizing quarterly Forum meetings, distributing pre-meeting materials and assisting Forum members in organizing work group meetings, colloquia, teleconferences and workshops.
Forum meetings are held on a regular basis, but no less than once each quarter. Members of the Forum and its technical panels are the meeting participants. Forum staff develop meeting agendas based on current projects and topics submitted by Forum members and designated representatives. An agenda is distributed to Forum members and designated representatives before each full Forum meeting, along with any materials to be reviewed at that meeting. Summaries of each full Forum meeting are prepared and available to Forum members and designated representatives.
Forum Oversight Groups meet as needed to meet deadlines. The chairperson of technical panels (working with the Forum staff) are responsible for processing reports of their panels and for timely presentation to the Forum.
Selecting Forum Issues. New issues may be proposed at any time. Proposals for Forum projects can either be developed within individual regions and program offices and forwarded, through the appropriate management chain, for consideration by the Forum or projects can be identified by the Assistant Administrator (or delegatee). Proposed projects are evaluated by the Steering Committee. Criteria for choosing projects include: Agency-wide applicability, new or emerging risk assessment issues, opportunity for developing Agency-wide consensus, current project work loads and availability of scientific staff to serve as panel members. Upon initiation of the project, the technical panelchairperson develops a workplan for approval by the Steering Committee. The Executive Director will inform the Deputy Administrator (or delegatee) of the initiation of new projects.
Processing Forum Products. The chairperson of each technical panel is responsible for developing and adhering to a workplan that is mutually agreeable to panel members and the Steering Committee. Draft Forum products are made available to Forum Oversight Group members for comment at appropriate times. The panel coordinates with the Forum staff throughout development of the project, and briefs the Forum at regular intervals. The technical panel chairperson, working with the Forum staff and the Forum, prepares a draft closure memorandum that contains a summary of the Forum's technical findings, conclusions and recommendations, comment on any remaining scientific issues or uncertainties, and directs attention to possible policy implications.
Upon Forum closure, major Forum recommendations, scientific analyses and conclusions are submitted to the Deputy Administrator (or delegatee) for consideration of their use as EPA risk assessment policy.
7. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AND DISTRIBUTION OF FORUM PRODUCTS
Although Forum meetings are not required to be open to the public, the Forum may seek public input on risk assessment issues at specific times in the development of its products. Opportunities for input include Forum sponsored colloquia and workshops convened to obtain the opinion of the scientific community on particular risk assessment issues. In conformance with Agency peer review policy, the Forum organizes reviews of its products by external peer review panels and some Forum products, such as risk assessment guidelines, are published in the Federal Register for formal public review. In finalizing its reports, the Forum takes under advisement the comments and recommendations received through this public involvement process. Completed Forum products are transmitted to all Forum members and designated representatives, the programs and regions, the Science Advisory Board directorate, and are made available to the public.