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EPA Strengthens Conflict of Interest Review Process for Science Review Panels

WASHINGTON — The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it has improved its conflict of interest review process for contractor-managed peer reviews. EPA has put a new oversight process in place to ensure that contractors follow all existing conflicts of interest guidance and requirements. In addition, EPA will now ensure that the public has the opportunity to review and comment on a peer review panel’s composition when influential scientific documents are being considered.

“We are committed to scientific integrity at EPA,” said EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “Improving the contract-managed peer review process and increasing transparency will lead to stronger science at the agency.”

This revised process will apply to all future technical documents designated as Influential Scientific Information or Highly Influential Scientific Assessments where independent peer reviews will be conducted by panels selected and managed by independent contractors. For future peer review panels, EPA will now publish the names, principal affiliations and resumes of candidates being considered for the panel. Members of the public will be able to provide comments on the candidates for a period of at least three weeks.

After selecting the final peer review panel, the contractor will consult with EPA to review whether the contractor followed existing conflicts of interest guidance and requirements, and identify and provide input on any issues. In addition, the names of the final peer review panel members will be posted publicly before the meeting takes place. This process will ensure that existing conflicts of interest guidance and requirements are applied correctly and where a potential conflict of interest is identified, allow EPA to determine whether the contractor’s plan to address the conflict is acceptable. The new process does not change EPA’s existing standards for determining conflicts of interest.

More information about scientific research at EPA: http://www.epa.gov/ord/

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