By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing on March 17, 2021, on “Brain Drain: Rebuilding the Federal Scientific Workforce.” The Subcommittee heard from the following witnesses:
- Ms. Candice Wright, Acting Director, Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO);
- Mr. Max Stier, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Partnership for Public Service;
- Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, Director of the Center for Science and Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists; and
- Dr. Betsy Southerland, Former Director of Science and Technology, Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
During the hearing, Subcommittee Chair Bill Foster (D-IL) submitted a Majority staff report into the record on “trends in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workforce within federal science agencies following the sequestration in the early 2010s that impacted staffing within federal agencies and workforce-related actions taken by the Trump Administration that contributed to destabilizing the federal STEM workforce over the last four years.” The staff report, “Scientific Brain Drain: Quantifying the Decline of the Federal Scientific Workforce,” evaluates how STEM civil service employment has expanded or contracted over the past decade at several federal agencies, including EPA. According to the Committee’s press release, the report finds significant declines in the STEM workforce at EPA, particularly within the Office of Research and Development, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as that racial and ethnic employment gaps are significant in STEM fields compared to the total federal workforce. The press release states that “[t]hese trends suggest the United States may need to recommit to promoting U.S. competitiveness in science and innovation, especially as China redoubles its investments in advanced technology and commitment to a pipeline of highly educated STEM workers.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On October 16, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reminded companies that if they filed a retrospective activity notice (Notice of Activity (NOA) Form A) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Rule and claimed the specific chemical identity as confidential business information (CBI), they have until November 1, 2020, to submit or amend their CBI substantiations. Companies that amend, update, or file new CBI substantiations must do so electronically via EPA’s Central Data Exchange.
On March 6, 2020, EPA promulgated a final rule on procedures for review of CBI claims made under TSCA. The final rule includes the requirements for regulated entities to substantiate certain CBI claims made under TSCA to protect the specific chemical identities of chemical substances on the confidential portion of the TSCA Inventory, and EPA’s plan for reviewing certain CBI claims for specific chemical identities. The substantiation requirements describe the applicable procedures and provide instructions for regulated entities. EPA sets out the review criteria and related procedures that it will use to complete the reviews within the five-year timeframe set in TSCA. More information is available in our February 28, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Releases Final Rule on Procedures for Review of CBI Claims for the Identity of Chemicals on the TSCA Inventory.”
By Charles M. Auer and Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated its eNOA upload template that was initially released in 2017 to assist filers with the Central Data Exchange (CDX) system. The eNOA, or electronic Notice of Activity (NOA) Form, is used for retrospective reporting under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act’s (TSCA) Inventory notification requirements. The eNOA template, available for download from within the eNOA system on CDX, assists users to upload many substance identities in a batch. The template file is a comma separated value (CSV) file, CSV-NAA.csv, that is readable by most spreadsheet and database programs. The change means that if submitters attempt to use the old template, the CSV file will not upload properly and will generate errors in CDX.
The template was updated by adding a new field name. The new field name that will be added to the CSV file is “Isjoint,” and the field explanation is “NOA is joint with another submitter;” which permits filers to upload and start multiple joint submissions in a batch. The field names required, along with their field explanations, are:
- Isjoint: NOA is joint with another submitter.
- CASRN: CASRN with our without dashes; after upload, dashes will be present. Must be “TRUE” or “FALSE”;
- Accession Number: Accession number for substances listed on the confidential portion of the Inventory;
- Chemical Cbi: Submitter seeking to maintain CBI claim for substance identity. Must be “TRUE” or “FALSE”;
- Submitter Cbi: Submitter claiming CBI for submitter identity. Must be “TRUE” or “FALSE”;
- Company Details Cbi: Submitter claiming CBI for submitting company details. Must be “TRUE” or “FALSE”;
- Technical [Contact] Cbi: Submitter claiming CBI for technical contact identity. NB: “Contanct” is misspelled in the template. Must be “TRUE” or “FALSE”;
- Substantiation CBI: Submitter claiming CBI for substantiation statement(s). Must be “TRUE” or “FALSE”; and
- ShowCbiQuestions: Set to TRUE to substantiate CBI claims. This is required for submitter, company, and technical contact claims. Must be “TRUE” or “FALSE.”