My consulting work includes several kinds of projects addressing risk and public policy:
- Decision process design. In many situations environmental regulations leave a range of choices possible. Usually decisions require some structuring framework and process to clarify policy tradeoffs, measurement criteria, benefits and costs. Different decision processes are required depending on the environmental resources at stake, the time frame in which choices must be made, and the quality of data or knowledge available. I have developed decision processes for assessing fish habit influenced by instream flow levels and fish protection options associated with electric power plant water intake structures.
- Priority-setting and capital budgeting. Allocating a budget often involves the comparisons of diverse projects whose benefits are difficult to directly estimate and then compare. Organizations also often confuse budget items defined by accounting conditions with actionable projects. A good budgeting process is built by creating useful "decision units," robust measurement criteria and a group process for obtaining inputs and finally ranking projects. Such budgeting processes are equally useful in private corporations and governmental organizations. I have developed such ranking processes for Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, ChevronTexaco. Included in the projects are rankings to allocate yearly budgets for contaminated site cleanups, repair priorities for oil pipelines and capital project rankings for electric utilities.
- Stakeholder involvement. I use the methods of multiple values decision analysis to design stakeholder processes for environmental, land use or any other choices involving multiple stakeholder groups. Decision analytic techniques balance resources available for analysis with the level of accuracy needed to make defensible choices. Recently projects include a multi-year stakeholder process with the Sacramento Regional Wastewater District to define their 2020 Master Plan. Other projects have involved the Contra Costa Water District, CALFED Bay Delta projects, and Sandia National Laboratory.
- Decision analysis modeling. All businesses and organizations at some time over-model their decisions. whether it be outcomes of an R&D program, projected marketing results. One of the most useful techniques of decision analysis is the development of robust decision models which streamline the burdensome detail found in many spreadsheet models of financial or other outcomes. Software for building high-level influence diagram models and linking them to spreadsheet calculations make such methods practical and efficient.
- Risk communication. During the 1990s I developed policy process for US EPA's promotion of "green" products such as organic pesticides, low-toxicity dry cleaning and reduced consumption generally. Like advertising, effective risk communication depends on the use of multiple targeted media, message testing and strategic campaign design. Unlike other kinds of communication, risk messages are subject to and risk perceptions and biases making effectiveness difficult to achieve and to measure. Risk messages have now become a stock feature of many advertising campaigns for automobiles, food and health products.
- Teaching and workshops. I have developed and taught multiple day, interactive workshops on decision analysis, decision analysis software, multiple values decision-making, and real options theory for the US EPA, the Department of Energy, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Electric Power Research Institute, among others.