Strategic Research Planning
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EPA’s collective research effort is guided by a strategic plan, which communicates the Agency’s priorities and provides the roadmap for achieving its mission to protect human health and the environment. Science is an explicit part of the plan, and a critical component of achieving Agency goals. Science touches all parts of EPA, from regional laboratories that analyze scientific data to inform immediate and near-term decisions on environmental conditions, emergency response, compliance and enforcement, to national research program scientists and engineers who conduct and use science to inform regulations and national compliance and enforcement initiatives.
A major component of EPA’s science enterprise is the research and development program led by the Office of Research and Development (ORD), which delivers leading-edge research to meet near-term and long-term science needs of the Agency, inform Agency decisions, and support the emerging needs of tribal, state, and community partners. The primary focus of ORD is to provide the strong scientific and technical foundation EPA relies on to fulfill its statutory obligations and to help the Agency and its partners address the most pressing environmental and related public health challenges.
ORD's strategic research planning ensures a collaborative, transparent, and highly coordinated research program that delivers the data and information that EPA program and regional offices need, while also providing a suite of innovative models, interactive dashboards, tools, and other resources that help Tribes, states, local communities, and other partners protect their environment, safeguard public health, and increase human well-being. Like environmental science itself, ORD’s strategic research planning is constantly changing to build on its foundation of past success while adapting to meet new and more complex challenges.
ORD’s planning aligns six national research programs to collectively target the science and engineering needed to provide the scientific foundation for EPA to execute its mandate to protect human health and the environment.
ORD supports six national research programs that identify the most pressing environmental health research needs with input from EPA partners:
- Air, Climate, and Energy (ACE)
- Chemical Safety for Sustainability (CSS)
- Health and Environmental Risk Assessment (HERA)
- Homeland Security (HS)
- Safe and Sustainable Water Resources (SSWR)
- Sustainable and Healthy Communities (SHC)
Each of the programs is guided by a Strategic Research Action Plan (StRAP) to structure and coordinate research activities. The StRAPs outline four-year strategies to deliver the research necessary to support EPA’s overall mission to protect human health and the environment. They are designed to guide an ambitious research portfolio that delivers the science and engineering solutions the Agency needs to meet its goals now and into the future, and they inform our partners and the public of ORD's strategic direction.
To develop each StRAP, ORD program leaders and staff engage Agency program offices and external partners at different levels and stages in open communications to identify the environmental and public health challenges they face. Development teams carefully align research and technical activities to ensure they deliver the specific research products, models, tools, and other outputs required to meet those challenges. To implement the plans, research is carried out by four ORD research centers that have facilities located across the country.
By cultivating partnerships and facilitating ongoing communication and engagement with partners, ORD has produced an overall research program that can incorporate user-feedback to fine-tune ongoing research. Working closely with partners also facilitates the translation of results in ways that make them immediately applicable to decisions and activities ensuring chemical safety and advancing clean air, land, and water.
National Research Programs and Research Centers