SRA Workshop #19

From Quantitative Risk Assessment to Cost - Benefit Analysis to Risk Management: How to use Different Tools, Methods and Techniques for Better Decision Making

Sponsored by the Economics and Benefit Analysis Specialty Group.

Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting
Sunday, December 9, 2007
San Antonio, TX


This workshop is designed to provide risk managers and other risk professionals with tools that will help them interpret health outcomes estimated in risk assessments, see how those outcomes are used in a cost benefit analysis, and use that information to make risk-based decisions. In particular, the workshop will focus on the techniques that are currently being used to integrate risk assessment into cost-benefit analysis, and how they can be used to arrive at a decision. In addition to addressing many well-known hazards for which health risks are assessed, the workshop will also consider the obstacles facing decision makers when multiple options and multiple hazards must be analyzed before reaching a decision. Decision making can be complicated because it is hard to balance the interests of the different stake holders affected by the decision. Economics provides methods to characterize trade-offs and — if not necessarily pointing to a single optimal decision — provide decision makers with better information when making difficult choices among options. That information may show when it is better to use self-interest or mixed incentives in serving the public interest, and when more prescriptive measures are needed. Risk assessment provides methods to show how to use probability distributions instead of deterministic calculations when deciding among options.

The first part of the workshop will illustrate the advantages of different models for estimating the impacts of public or private actions that affect the environment, food, and water, and how these models can be used to predict unforeseen market or consumer behaviors that may lead to offsetting risks. In addition, different quantitative risk assessment models and techniques will be presented and examples of how they are incorporated in a cost-benefit analysis will be discussed. The workshop will also assess the relative usefulness of different types of data in risk assessments and cost-benefit analyses.

In the afternoon sessions of this workshop, the presenters and other experts will form a panel to discuss hypothetical or real problems in risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis submitted by the participants. The first session will cover problems associated with a case study. The second part of the session will cover problems submitted by participants in advance or at the workshop.

Presenter Backgrounds

Nancy Beck, PhD.

Risk Assessor
Executive Office of the President
Office of Management and Budget
Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
Washington, D.C.

Nancy Beck is currently working as a toxicologist and risk assessor in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, within the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Since 2002, Dr. Beck has been using her toxicology expertise to review rules related to health and the environment and to inform and improve many public health and policy decisions made by Federal Agencies.  Nancy has also played a key role in overseeing the implementation of the government wide Information Quality Guidelines, and is the point of contact for the OMB Proposed Bulletin on Risk Assessment.  Before joining OMB, Nancy was a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the U.S. EPA, where her work at the National Center for Environmental Assessments focused on children’s health issues, air toxics, and human variability.  Nancy also worked as a Toxicologist and Public Health Advisor for the Washington State Department of Health.  Nancy has a B.S. from Cornell University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington.

Chris Dockins, PhD

Director, Innovations and Emerging Challenges Division
National Center for Environmental Economics
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, D.C.

Chris Dockins is Director of the Innovations and Emerging Challenges Division at EPA’s National Center for Environmental  Economics.  One of the primary roles of this division of NCEE is   to better link the natural sciences and economics, including improving risk assessment for benefits analysis.  His work at the Agency includes research and analysis to estimate the value of health risk reductions from environmental policies, reviewing and consulting on regulatory benefit-cost and cost-effectiveness analyses.  His current research efforts focus on the valuation of reduced cancer risk in adults and children, developing and better  integrating risk assessment and economic valuation, and      understanding and modeling cessation lag between exposure and effects.  His research has been published in journals such as Risk Analysis, the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, and the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, and he was the editor and a primary writer for EPA’s Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analysis.  He received his Ph.D. in economics from Duke University in 1996.

Amber Jessup, PhD

Science Policy Analyst
Department of Health and Human Services
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Washington, D.C.

Amber Jessup is a science policy analyst at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation where she is responsible for policy research, analysis, evaluation, leadership, and planning related to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) activities, as well as public health science policy issues generally.   She began her government career at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) at the (FDA) in 1999 after completing her doctorate in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At CFSAN, Amber was primarily involved in analyzing benefits and costs of proposed rules and regulations and providing economic support for others in CFSAN.  She has published papers in journals including, Health Economics, Medical Care, and Journal of Consumer Policy.

Cristina McLaughlin, Senior Economist

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
College Park, MD

Cristina has been working as a CFSAN Economist since 1991. Most of her work at FDA involves analyzing costs and benefits of FDA regulations and also of finding out new ways to design risk assessments or reviewing other risk assessments so that they can be used in estimating costs and benefits of FDA regulations. Cristina also serves as a member of the JIFSAN Food Safety Risk Analysis Clearinghouse Steering Committee.

Some of her previous work included estimating the economic impact of mycotoxins in the U.S. and reviewing risk assessments --such as the 2004 USDA /FSIS Draft Risk Assessment of Salmonella enteritidis in Shell Eggs and Salmonella spp. in Egg Products -- as it is applicable to cost benefit analysis. Her main area of interest includes using risk assessment techniques or Bayesian approaches in analyzing costs and benefits of regulations.  Her latest interest is in risk informatics and in using GIS applications in risk assessment.

Clark Nardinelli, PhD

Director of Economics Staff, Office of Planning
Office of Policy and Planning, Office of the Commissioner
United States Food and Drug Administration

After receiving a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago, Clark Nardinelli taught economics for many years at various universities, including the University of Virginia, Tulane University, Clemson University, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He joined the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in 1995 and now serves as the director of the Economics Staff in the Office of Planning. The Economics Staff’s responsibilities include doing cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses of FDA regulations and other FDA policy actions. In addition, the Economics Staff carries out various economic studies to supply FDA management with economic data and other information on a host of public health questions.

As the Director, Economic Staff, in the Office of Policy and Planning within the FDA Office of the Commissioner, he is responsible for ensuring that all FDA proposed and final regulations, before publication in the Federal Register, comply with Executive Order 12866, all relevant directives and requirements from the Office of Management and Budget (including the OMB guidance on economic analysis), the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

Rene Pana-Cryan, PhD

Senior Scientist
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
Office of the Director

Rene Pana-Cryan is a Senior Scientist in the Office of the NIOSH Director in Washington, DC. In that role she provides technical and policy advice to the Director and the Associate Director for Science regarding the scientific quality, appropriateness, technical feasibility, and program relevance of existing and proposed Institute activities. In addition, she serves as the Coordinator of the Economics Coordinated Emphasis Area in the NIOSH Program Portfolio. In that role she provides recommendations for priority setting, as well as leadership and technical assistance for the development of research and evaluation projects in economics. Dr Pana-Cryan joined NIOSH in 1996 as a post-doctoral Prevention Effectiveness Fellow. She has a BS in Plant Science, a BS in Accounting and Finance, and an MS and PhD in Food and Resource Economics.

Mark Walderhaug, PhD

Associate Director for Risk Assessment
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Biologics

Mark Walderhaug is an interdisciplinary scientist in FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.  He works in the Office of Biostatistics and Epidemiology where he is the Associate Director for Risk Assessment.  He is working on risk assessments on avian influenza/pandemic flu, malaria, and genetic therapies.  Previously, he was at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition where he was a member of the Food Safety Initiative's Microbiological Risk Assessment Team.  He has worked on FDA's Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Listeria monocytogenes risk assessments and USDA’s E. coli O157:H7 risk assessment for ground beef.  He is currently serving as a temporary advisor for the joint FAO/WHO expert consultation on Risk Assessment of Vibrio spp. in seafood. He earned his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University and held a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Chicago in the department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology.  He was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago department of Immunology and Microbiology before joining the FDA in 1991.

Jim Withee

Risk Analyst
Risk Assessment Division
Office of Public Health Science
Food Safety Inspection Service

 Jim Withee has been a risk analyst in the Office of Public Health Science, Risk Assessment Division since September 2007.  Prior to this, Jim worked with the Risk Assessment Division as an AAAS science policy fellow for two years.  His work uses risk assessment to allocate food safety inspection resources based on the greatest public health impact.  The design and implementation of a risk based sampling algorithm for “toxic” E. coli has been one of the primary focuses.  In addition, Jim has worked on risk assessment issues related to Salmonella, Listeria, Avian Influenza and BSE.  He earned his PhD from Stanford University Department of Biology in 1999 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Berkeley Dept. of cell and Molecular Biology from 2000-2004.