What is the condition of the U.S. environment? How is it changing over time? In 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency embarked on an ambitious initiative, called the Report on the Environment, to answer these questions. The challenges were substantial. EPA needed to determine which aspects of U.S. environmental condition to track, develop scientifically credible indicators to monitor how each aspect changes over time, engage dozens of internal and external partners to build and update these indicators, present the voluminous ROE in a clear and compelling way, and keep the report current.
ERG has supported EPA’s ROE program since 2003, when the Agency first requested our help. Since then, we have provided scientific analysis, indicator development, writing, editing, strategic communications, graphic design, and Web development support for the ROE.
The report presents more than 80 indicators related to air, water, land, human exposure and health, and ecological condition. In a project of this scale and complexity, efficiency drives success. We have developed systems and processes to maintain the integrity of the scientific data that underlie the ROE indicators, coordinate and monitor the hundreds of concurrent activities involved in producing and updating the ROE, and preserve 10+ years of institutional knowledge to ensure continuity in the years to come.
Collaboration—within ERG, with EPA, and with the Agency’s ROE partners—has also been key. ERG’s ROE team seamlessly integrates the technical, process, and communications expertise essential to this project and supports EPA’s ROE team in nurturing productive long-term relationships with its many partners. We also help the Agency evolve the ROE in response to changing circumstances. For example, when suitable data visualization software became available, ERG conceptualized, designed, and built a dynamic Web application, enabling EPA to provide the ROE as an interactive Web-only publication that presents the approximately 250 ROE graphs and maps in an engaging, easy-to-navigate manner.