Work processes in VKM's scientific assessments
VKM's scientific assessments are primarily conducted on assignments from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Norwegian Environment Agency. VKM may also initiate risk assessments and other types of assessments on its own.
VKM and the client engage in dialogue about the assignment. The assignments are published on vkm.no, with descriptions and information about the project group and approval group.
Drafting the Assessment
For each assignment or sub-assignment, one or more project groups are formed. The project group must have the competence necessary to fulfill the assignment.
The project group may consist of appointed VKM members or a combination of VKM members and external experts. External experts are brought in when the project's competency needs are not met by members of VKM's various expert groups.
In addition, the project manager and possibly other staff members from the secretariat participate in the project group. An observer from the client may attend the project group meetings.
Impartiality assessments are conducted for all participants in VKM's work. The impartiality requirements for external experts are the same as for VKM members and for the project leader and other project participants from the secretariat.All declarations of interest are published on VKM's website.
The project group prepares a draft of the scientific assessment.VKM follows international guidelines and standards for risk assessment within the various disciplines mentioned below.
Before a scientific assessment is approved, it is sent to external peers for comments. There should be at least two peers for each assessment, who should not have ties to the project group members or VKM members who approve the assessment. Any exceptions to this must be justified.
The project group reviews the input from the peers. The approval group has the academic responsibility and makes the final decision on the comments from the peers.
The approval group has the academic responsibility for the scientific assessment. This means it follows the work of the project group from start to finish, finalizes, and approves it.They review the entire assessment to ensure it is scientifically sound.
The following must be specifically considered when approving a scientific assessment:
- The choice of methodology used is described and justified.
- The choice of literature used is described and justified.
- The choice of data used is described and justified.
- The questions in the assignment ("Terms of reference") are answered.
- The conclusion(s) are based on scientific documentation and/or reasoned expert assessments.
- The assessments and conclusions are within VKM's mandate and are free from risk management.
All six points must be met for a scientific assessment to be approved.
An observer from the client may participate in the meetings of the approval group. Agendas and minutes from meetings are published on vkm.no.
The assessment is sent to the client for review before publication.
The client receives the scientific assessment for review 5-10 days before publication.
Publication and Communication of the Assessment
The scientific assessment is published on vkm.no with an overview and communicated to relevant stakeholders and media.