Topical Working Groups

Topical Working Groups are a key mechanism through which WSAS fulfills its ‘Science in Service of Washington State’ mission and increases engagement with state policy organizations.

Topical Working Groups are aligned with key scientific and technological policy interests of the state and our members. They increase WSAS’s visibility as a ‘place to turn’ for objective, technically based and clear information on existing topics and issues facing the state, and to inform the state about emerging technical issues that could affect the state.

Three initial Topical Working Groups are:

Topical Working Groups increase WSAS Members’ capacity to act on policy issues involving science, technology, the environment and health. Their impacts are measured through the types and quality of its activities, the strength and influence of the connections with key policy makers and strategy groups, and the relevance and value added of our products to policy makers.

Our activities include:

Increased interactions with the state legislature and other state leaders in various sectors (government, agencies, industry, and foundations).

Identification and visibility of WSAS members’ areas of expertise through identification of critical issues facing Washington State.

Individual or small-group meetings of WSAS experts with policy makers and agency leaders and their staff to focus on time-sensitive issues requiring specific scientific or technical know-how.

Convenings, such as workshops and symposia, focused on cross-disciplinary policy issues. These events can be single- or multi-day events, depending on the need and level of resources, and are memorialized via workshop reports.

White papers on key challenges facing the state that describe both what is already known in specific scientific and technical areas and where are the knowledge gaps, resulting in recommendations about where more focused research and resources could result in better-informed policy.

Independent reviews of work done by others, including state agencies or commissions, nonprofit organizations, or for-profit companies.

Adaptation for use by state agencies and the legislature of national-level policy reports, e.g., from the National Academies, that may have important implications for state-level policy.

Independent committee reports about complex and state-specific issues that require scientific and technical expertise across disciplines to inform and advise the state. This kind of project works well using an expert study committee that is charged to prepare a formal report based on the best available science. Ideally, the product is an independent consensus report drafted by the committee, and reviewed by peers before publication and release to the public.