CIE Peer Reviews

Why are external CIE peer reviews important?

The NMFS Office of Science and Technology is responsible for strengthening its agency’s science quality assurance in accordance with the mandate of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) that conservation and management measures be based on the best scientific information available.  The U.S. Ocean Action Plan states that “The Administration supports the use of peer-reviewed science in resource management decisions” to establish “Standard review procedures and guidelines [to] increase the efficient use of the best available scientific information for management considerations” in response to recommendations by the U.S. Commission to Ocean Policy.  For these reasons, the Center of Independent Experts (CIE) was established in 1998 to routinely provide external, independent and expert reviews of the agency’s influential science used for policy decisions.  The CIE process satisfies peer review standards as specified in the MSA provision National Standard 2 guidelines.  These guidelines specify that peer review is an important factor in the determination of best scientific information available, and the selection of reviewers must adhere to peer review standards such as high qualifications, independence, and strict conflict of interest standards.  The CIE is a proven process that strengthens the quality and credibility of the agency’s science, and has improved stakeholder’s trust that the agency is basing policy decisions on the best scientific information available.   

What is the CIE peer review process?

External peer review requests are submitted to the Office of Science and Technology that include expertise requirements and terms of reference for each peer review.  A contract agreement with the CIE is administered by the Office of Science and Technology.  Based on these requirements, the CIE conducts an independent selection process to provide highly qualified experts that adhere to rigorous peer review standards, such as independence from the science under review and strict conflict of interest standards.  CIE reviewers are often selected from outside the U.S. with expertise in various scientific disciplines (generally 70% fishery stock assessments, 23% protected species, and 7% other scientific proficiencies).   The reviewers may be required to participate during panel review meetings or conduct desk reviews in which travel is not required.  The contract deliverable is a CIE peer review report from each CIE reviewer that is independently reviewed by the CIE technical team.  The Office of Science and Technology ensures the CIE reports are in compliance with the contract requirements ensuring that each terms of reference was addressed.  The CIE reports are then distributed and made publicly available. 

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Peer Review Reports