In addressing environmental, natural resource, and health issues, joint fact-finding (JFF) has emerged as an important tool for conflict management. In many of these cases, the science needed to support a decision or policy is unclear, unknown, incomplete, contested, or not known to one or more of the parties. JFF is a way for different groups to work together collaboratively to develop data and information, analyze it, develop common assumptions and informed opinions, and use that information to reach a decision.
All the parties agree to share information universally, and technical experts, decision-makers, and other stakeholders engage in a dialogue around the information. The assumptions behind the information and analysis are made known, and questions asked of the science are framed jointly by all the parties.
RESOLVE has led a number of JFF processes, including:
- A federal advisory committee that was tasked with developing recommendations on revising national drinking water standards
- A community process to develop stormwater management plans in Fairfax County, Virginia
- Development of a forest management plan for Bankhead National Forest in Alabama
On October 29, 2013, RESOLVE held a webinar on Joint Fact Finding for Energy Resources Issues.
Selected RESOLVE projects
Total Coliform Rule and Distribution System Advisory Committee
RESOLVE facilitated and mediated the EPA’s Total Coliform Rule and Distribution System Advisory Committee (TCRDSAC) over the course of a year and a half as the Committee, with support from its Technical Working Group (TWG), to develop consensus recommendations on how EPA should revise the Total Coliform Rule and develop a research and information collection plan for distribution systems. The TCRDSAC directed the TWG, made up of technical experts and researchers, to provide answers for questions posed by Committee members. The TCRDSAC Agreement in Principle is available online.
Fairfax County, Virginia Watershed Management Plans
As part of a process to develop watershed management plans for its watersheds, Fairfax County convened Watershed Advisory Groups (WAGs) for each watershed. Members of the community (including local businesses, private residents, landowners, and environmental groups) and representatives from relevant municipal, state, and federal agencies were invited to sit on the WAGs. RESOLVE partnered with engineering firms to facilitate and support the WAGs for three watersheds: Accotink Creek, Horsepen Creek and Sugarland Run, and Nichol Run and Pond Branch. The final management plans are available online.
Bankhead National Forest
RESOLVE facilitated the process to develop a management plan for the Bankhead National Forest in Alabama. Prior to this effort, the relationship between the USFS and the local stakeholders was categorized by mistrust and miscommunication, and a history of USFS disregard for regional input. The plan development process involved a lot of group team-building and trust-building, in addition to joint fact-finding around the science of the forest ecosystem. The final management plan is available online.