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Expert Elicitation

Expert Elicitation White Paper - External Review Draft

Prepared for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
by members of the Expert Elicitation Task Force,
a group of EPA's Science Policy Council

Science Policy Council
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, DC 20460

Expert Elicitation White Paper - External Review Draft, January 2009 (PDF) (143 pp, 1.37 MB, About PDF)

Expert Elicitation White Paper- Addendum of Recent References, January 2009 (PDF) (3 pp, 26 KB, About PDF)

EPA and other federal regulatory agencies are often required to make important national decisions in the presence of uncertainty. Because of the understanding about the implications of uncertainty on decision making and the challenging nature of many EPA decisions, there is increasing pressure to better characterize uncertainty.  As part of this effort, there has been a recent increase in interest in the use of Expert Elicitation, a systematic process of formalizing and quantifying, in terms of probabilities, experts’ judgments about uncertain quantities, as a tool to be used in regulatory analyses and support of EPA decision making. 

EPA’s Science Policy Council (SPC) formed the Expert Elicitation Task Force in April of 2005 to initiate a thorough discussion of Expert Elicitation, and to investigate how to conduct and use this method to support EPA regulatory and non-regulatory analyses and decision-making.  The Task Force, with representation across EPA program offices and Regions, developed the Expert Elicitation Task Force White Paper.  The White Paper discusses the potential utility of using expert elicitation to support EPA regulatory and non-regulatory analyses and decision-making.  It also provides recommendations for expert elicitation good practices based on a review of the literature and actual experience within EPA and other federal agencies, and describes steps for a broader application of expert elicitation across EPA.  The brief Addendum of Recent References document identifies publications issued after the development of the draft document.

This White Paper, in its current form, is not intended to present official EPA guidelines or policy since input from a range of stakeholders within and outside the Agency were not formally solicited in developing the draft. 

EPA is now submitting the draft for independent, external peer review through its Science Advisory Board (SAB) to provide advice regarding the potential usefulness of expert elicitation, how to strengthen the scientific basis for its use, and the implications for possible implementation at EPA. 

Further information about the SAB review of this document scheduled for February 25 and 26, 2009 can be found on the SAB Web site here.

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