EPA Science Advisory Board Staff

Public Involvement in Advisory Activities

Nomination of experts for committees and panels

The chartered SAB, CASAC and Council provide scientific and technical advice to the EPA Administrator. These chartered committees often use subgroups and expert panels to develop initial advice which is reviewed, discussed and approved by the parent committee. When new advisory activities are initiated, the SAB Staff Office solicits nominations of experts in the Federal Register and provides ways for the public to:

  • Nominate experts through the Web for new panels being formed;
  • Be informed about the candidates being considered for new panels; and
  • Provide information, analysis, or documentation that SAB Staff should consider before it finalizes membership on panels.

The SAB Staff Office has developed a general overview of the panel formation process (PDF, 10 pp., 113 kb, About PDF Files) and a more detailed description of the formation of advisory panels and ad hoc committees in the 2004 SAB Implementation Plan (PDF, 30 pp., 347 kb, About PDF Files). The SAB Staff Office seeks a diverse pool of experts to serve on advisory committees and panels as appropriate to the scope of the advisory activity and offers opportunities for public comment on experts under consideration.

Advisory committee meetings and report development

EPA policy and the law governing Federal Advisory Committees allow and encourage public involvement. The SAB Staff Office has developed a public involvement booklet describing how SAB, CASAC and Council committees and panels work and how the public can participate through the steps outlined below.

  • The Federal Advisory Committee Act provides for public involvement in committee activities primarily by open access to meetings and records and by providing the public an opportunity to submit comments to the committee.
  • Public comment for consideration by EPA's federal advisory committees and panels has a different purpose from public comment provided to EPA program offices. Therefore, the process for submitting comments to a federal advisory committee is different from the process used to submit comments to an EPA program office.
    • Members of the public can submit comments for a federal advisory committee to consider as it develops advice for EPA.
    • Public comments should be sent directly to the Designated Federal Officer for the relevant advisory committee.
    • The contact information for the Designated Federal Officer is listed in the Federal Register notice for committee meetings and provided for each advisory committee meeting on this Web site.
  • To participate in advisory activities of the SAB, CASAC, and Council, members of the public can:
    • Contact the appropriate Designated Federal Officer (DFO) or the SAB Staff Office to obtain information on or provide comments about committee activities;
    • Attend and observe public meetings and teleconferences;
    • Review materials used by committee members in their deliberations;
    • Provide written comments for consideration by committee members;
    • Present oral statements for consideration by committee members at public meetings during time periods set aside for that purpose; and
    • Review minutes of committee meeting and deliberations.

FY12 Initiatives to Enhance Public Involvement in Advisory Activities

In response to suggestions received at a June 1, 2011, Session on Public Involvement, the SAB Staff Office has developed additional practices to enhance public involvement in activities of the SAB, CASAC, and Council:

  • Federal Register notices published by the Staff Office will clarify that public comments are welcome on all technical materials prepared for or by an advisory committee, including the charge to the committee.
  • The Staff Office and advisory committees will not accept a charge from the agency that unduly narrows the scope of an advisory activity.
  • Time will be reserved on meeting agendas for committee members to discuss the charge.
  • Following public comments at advisory committee meetings, chairs will ask committee or panel members if they have clarifying or follow-up questions for public presenters.
  • Chairs will offer a second brief opportunity for additional clarifying remarks from agency representatives or members of the public later in the meeting, as the committee or panel deliberates on responses to the charge questions.
  • Advisory committee reports will acknowledge scientific information from the public that was helpful in forming the committee’s conclusions and recommendations.
  • Advisory committee reports will continue to focus on scientific and technical – rather than policy – issues, although reports may discuss the policy context and may note policy implications of technical findings.