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EPA Research

Strategic Research Planning at EPA

Office of Research and Development's Strategic Plan

The primary focus of EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) is to provide the strong scientific and technical foundation the Agency relies on to fulfill its statutory obligations and help Agency, state, and other partners address their most pressing environmental and related public health challenges.

Our strategic research planning ensures a collaborative, transparent, and highly coordinated research program that delivers the data and information that Agency program and regional offices need, while also providing a suite of innovative models, interactive dashboards, tools, and other resources that help 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. That effort is outlined below.

Research Planning: Supporting Agency Goals and the Administrator’s Priorities

EPA’s collective research effort is guided by the EPA Strategic Plan, which identifies the Agency’s major goals and highlights the Administrator’s core philosophies. Science is an explicit part of the plan, and a critical component of achieving the goals and core philosophies outlined.

As per the EPA Strategic Plan, ORD’s research planning aligns six National Research Programs to collectively target the science and engineering needed to “deliver a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment for all Americans and future generations,” support “more effective partnerships” between Agency researchers and state environmental and public health agencies, and “refocus the EPA’s robust research and scientific analysis to inform policy making.”

Strategic Research Action Planning: Partnership and Consensus

Each National Research Program is guided by a Strategic Research Action Plan (StRAP), a blue print to structure and coordinate research activities. To develop each StRAP, program leaders and staff engage Agency program offices and external partners and stakeholders in open communications to identify the environmental and public health challenges they face. Then, StRAP-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.

By cultivating such partnerships and facilitating ongoing communication between EPA’s ORD and its partners, the Agency 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.

A renewed emphasis for the current effort is to more fully engage with state partners through a Memorandum of Understanding between ORD and the Environmental Council of States to meet state research needs and advance the Agency’s priority for more effective partnerships.