GAO Calls for Better Coordination of Research

Seven federal agencies involved in research on the effects of low-dose radiation collaborate on “particular projects” but they don’t “use a mechanism to address overall research priorities, such as research needs that advisory bodies identified,” GAO has said.

It said that in the past, the Energy Department had been a leader in advocating for coordination but since 2012, “its leadership role and funding have decreased because it has phased out funding for its main research program in this area, and no other agency stepped forward to fill this role.”

From then through last year, Energy, CDC, DoD, EPA, NASA, NIH and NRC together obligated about $210 million in that field, a witness told a House hearing. Low-dose exposure can occur in settings ranging from nuclear power plants to medical imaging equipment, the testimony said, and agencies vary in the limits and guidance they apply depending on the settings in which exposure occurs.

GAO recommended that Energy again lead interagency collaboration but the department disagreed, saying that individual agencies should set their own priorities.