Independent Science Board

The Independent Science Board is designed to be a standing board of distinguished experts (scientists and engineers) with a range of multi-disciplinary expertise including among those with local experience and those with external relevant expertise. These experts will help the Authority establish an independent and objective view of the science issues that underlie important policy decisions.

The ISB is currently not under contract. Lead Scientist Cliff Dahm is working on reconstituting a new ISB under new Delta governance.






Excerpt of Staff Report to the California Bay-Delta Authority, June 15, 2006

Background

As reported in the Lead Scientist Report at the September 2005 Authority meeting, the current CALFED Science Boards [CALFED-wide Independent Science Board (ISB), the Ecosystem Restoration Program Science Board (ERPSB); Water Management Science Board (WMSB)] and their activities have been on hiatus since the contract supporting their efforts expired in May 2005. This hiatus has provided an opportunity to examine the organization and structure of the CALFED science boards and determine whether they might be improved to better meet the current needs of the CALFED Program and implementing agencies.

Working with Science Program staff, CALFED Program managers and lead agency staffs, the Lead Scientist developed an approach that would streamline the current board structure, while maintaining the technical oversight and scientific integrity required to support CALFED management needs. The recommended approach, reported at the Authority's October 2005 meeting, envisioned a smaller, more targeted ISB, made up of only 10 to 12 members, along with advisors, technical review panels and workshops to address specific technical and scientific review needs for the Program.

As reported at the November 2005 Authority meeting, the Lead Scientist proposed to defer implementation of this new approach until a new Lead Scientist was in place, which was expected to occur by summer 2006. Since it is now uncertain when a new Lead Scientist will be in position, and because the term of the current Lead Scientist will expire June 30, 2006, he now recommends moving forward with reconstituting a smaller, more targeted ISB.

The California Bay-Delta Authority Act states: "The Lead Scientist shall nominate, and the Authority shall establish, a board of independent scientists, to be known as the Independent Science Board, that shall advise and make recommendations to the Authority and the Bay-Delta Public Advisory Committee, as appropriate, on the science relative to the implementation of all program elements (Water Code sec. 79470(a))."

The ISB is designed to be a standing board of distinguished experts (scientists and engineers) made up of individuals with a range of multi-disciplinary expertise balanced among those with local experience and those with external relevant expertise. These experts will help the Authority establish a balanced view of the science issues that underlie important policy decisions. The ISB will not pass direct judgment on the success or failure of the Authority's programs, but provide insights that can make the science underlying those programs, the application of that science, and the technical aspects of those programs, the best they can be. This includes overseeing the goal of explicitly characterizing the status of knowledge and identifying assumptions and uncertainties. The ISB, as a whole, will include the necessary expertise to cover the breadth of CALFED Program issues.

The new ISB will follow the charge. Primary near-term ISB activities will include evaluating the science agenda for the CALFED Program as a whole, assuring science is used in all programs, helping to select the Lead Scientist, and beginning work on proposed National Research Council (NRC) reviews.

Update

The Authority passed a resolution on June 15, 2006 to establish a new, reconstituted ISB as nominated by the Lead Scientist. The Board is expected to meet August 14-15, 2006 in Sacramento. The meeting will be open to the public.