[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 158 (Tuesday, August 17, 1999)]
[Notices]
[Pages 44685-44689]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-21247]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Stewardship Contracting Pilot Projects: Multiparty Monitoring and 
Evaluation Process

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

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[[Page 44686]]

SUMMARY: Section 347 of the FY 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act 
authorizes the Forest Service to enter into 28 stewardship end results 
contracts. These contracts are intended to provide a means for pilot-
testing an array of potential new authorities for giving national 
forest managers greater administrative flexibility to improve forest 
conditions and potentially help meet the needs of local communities. 
One of the key provisions of the statute, embodied in subsection (g) of 
the Act, is a provision requiring the establishment of a process for 
multiparty monitoring and evaluation of the stewardship contracts. The 
Forest Service hereby gives notice that a draft framework for 
multiparty monitoring and evaluation has been developed and is now 
available for public review and comment.

DATES: Comments must be received, in writing, on or before September 
16, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Written comments on this proposal may be sent to Cliff 
Hickman, USDA Forest Service, Forest Management Staff, Mail Stop 1105, 
P.O. Box 96090, Washington, D.C. 20090-6090 or electronically to 
chickman/[email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cliff Hickman, Forest Management 
Staff, (202) 205-1162, or chickman/[email protected]. Electronic copies of 
the Act, and of this proposed framework for multiparty monitoring and 
evaluation, may be obtained via the INTERNET at www.fs.fed.us/land/fm/
stewardship.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 347 of the FY 1999 Omnibus 
Appropriations Act (Act) authorizes the Forest Service to implement up 
to 28 stewardship end results contracts. The Forest Service provided 
background information about the provisions of Section 347 and its 
progress in implementing the legislation, in a notice that appeared in 
the July 9, 1999, issue of the Federal Register (64 FR 37096). That 
notice identified the stewardship pilot projects that the agency had 
already selected. This notice sets out the proposed framework and 
requests public comment. A notice summarizing the public comment and 
the agency's response to that comment will be published along with the 
finalized framework.
    The framework that the agency proposes to use to comply with the 
requirements of subsection (g) of Section 347 of the Act consists of 
two parts: (1) A process for securing multiparty monitoring and 
evaluation, and (2) a set of criteria to be considered during 
monitoring and evaluation. Besides ensuring proper documentation of any 
treatments and their resulting environmental effects, the proposed 
framework is intended to provide an objective basis for assessing the 
implications of the stewardship pilots regarding the following:
    (1) The potential advantages of greater collaboration during period 
planning and implementation;
    (2) The potential for new authorities to facilitate efficient 
implementation of desired ecosystem restoration, maintenance, or 
protection activities; and
    (3) The potential of stewardship contracting to help meet the needs 
of local communities.
    This proposed framework represents only one option for satisfying 
the multiparty monitoring and evaluation requirement of the Act. It is 
designed to comply with the provisions of the Federal Advisory 
Committee Act (FACA). The proposed framework is being developed to 
facilitate the data inventory required by Section 347 of the Act and is 
not a public information survey. Comments and suggestions on this 
proposal and on other ways to accomplish multiparty monitoring and 
evaluation, that would be in compliance with FACA requirements, are 
requested.

Proposed Process

    At the national level, a single Advisory Committee will be 
established under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act 
(FACA). The framework proposes establishing two types of teams at the 
local (project) level: (1) Data Inventory teams, and (2) Assessment and 
Evaluation Teams. Due to the composition, duties, and purpose of these 
teams, FACA chartering is not required. Additional details concerning 
the structure and functions of these proposed groups are provided 
below:
    Local Data Inventory Teams. Each forest with a stewardship pilot 
project will be responsible for organizing a team of interested publics 
to gather the data needed to assess project and program results. These 
teams will operate under the direction of a Forest Service employee who 
will encourage participation of all team members, develop monitoring 
methods, schedule team assignments, compile and validate the team's 
data, and interact, as needed, with the appropriate Assessment and 
Evaluation Team. Where a Forest has more than one pilot project, 
separate Data Inventory teams will be established to compile the 
relevant data for each project.
    As the name suggests, the principal function of the Data Inventory 
teams will be to gather project (local) level data for analysis by the 
appropriate Assessment and Evaluation Team. The criteria that the Data 
Inventory teams will be required to consider are described under the 
subheading ``Criteria for Local Data Inventory Teams.'' Once validated, 
the facts gathered by the Data Inventory teams will be made available 
for public review and use.
    The Data Inventory teams will be free to compile facts and other 
evidence deemed relevant by the responsible Assessment and Evaluation 
Team, but any additional data must be factual rather than interpretive 
data. Limiting the role of these teams to the compilation of factual 
evidence eliminates the need to establish a FACA committee. 
Participation on the teams will be open to all interested parties.
    Local Monitoring Assessment and Evaluation Team. Each forest with a 
stewardship pilot project will be responsible for organizing a team of 
government employees, federal, state, local, or tribal. This Monitoring 
Assessment and Evaluation Team's tasks are to assess and evaluate the 
data compiled by the corresponding Data Inventory Team and, also, to 
formulate appropriate recommendations. The Assessment and Evaluation 
Teams will operate under the direction of a Forest Service employee, 
serving as chairperson. A non-Forest Service person will be selected as 
the vice-chairperson of the committee. If other governmental entities 
are unavailable or unwilling to participate in the evaluation process, 
a Forest Service team will be organized. Where a forest has more than 
one stewardship pilot, only one Assessment and Evaluation Team will be 
established to deal with all the projects on that forest.
    As already suggested, a key function of the Assessment and 
Evaluation Teams will be to analyze and weigh the significance of the 
factual evidence compiled by the Data Inventory Teams. The criteria 
that the Assessment and Evaluation Teams will be required to consider 
are described under the subheading ``Criteria for Local Assessment and 
Evaluation Teams.'' These teams, at their discretion, will be free to 
develop other site-specific criteria that they deem relevant--e.g., 
additional criteria pertaining to forest conditions before and after 
treatment, effects on the local economy, and relations between and 
among community members, including the Forest Service. Finally, the 
Assessment and Evaluation Teams will be free to interact with the Data 
Inventory Teams and the National Advisory Committee, as needed.

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    The Assessment and Evaluation Teams will be responsible for making 
judgments, reaching conclusions, and formulating recommendations on the 
basis of the data assimilated. Because the teams, as envisioned in this 
proposal, will be comprised of government employees only, they qualify 
for the FACA requirement exemption, authorized by Section 204 of the 
Unfunded Mandates Act of 1995. Section 204 provides for the formation 
of intergovernmental committees to exchange official views concerning 
the implementation or administration of intergovernmental 
responsibilities.
    A second key function of the local Assessment and Evaluation teams 
will be to prepare annual reports to the National Advisory Committee. 
Annual reports will be submitted to the National Advisory Committee 
within 60 days of the close of each fiscal year. In situations where a 
forest has more than one stewardship pilot, each project will be 
analyzed, evaluated, and discussed in a separate report.
    The local Assessment and Evaluation Team reports will include the 
descriptive data that has been compiled by the local Data Inventory 
Teams, the responses to the criteria described under the subheading 
``Critria for Local Assessmet and Evaluation Teams,'' and any other 
issues that the teams determine to be relevant.
    The Assessment and Evaluation Teams will actively seek input from 
the public. Therefore, they will open their meetings to the public and 
give adequate notice of the times and locations of their meetings. 
Draft annual evaluation results will be shared with the public for 
comment by posting a notice of availability of the results in the local 
newspapers, posting the results on each forest's INTERNET website (if 
available), and by holding one or more public meetings. Public comments 
will be considered in preparing the annual reports to the National 
Advisory Committee. All public comments will be retained in the 
monitoring and evaluation file for each project.
    National Advisory Committee. A FACA advisory committee will be 
chartered to monitor and evaluate the stewardship pilot program at the 
national level. The Forest Service will recommend potential National 
Advisory Committee members to the Office of the Secretary of USDA. 
Committee representation will reflect the need to represent all 
communities of interest and to ensure that there is balance in the 
views represented. To ensure a connection to the projects at the local 
level, at least two Committee members will be people serving on local 
monitoring and evaluation teams. This arrangement will help ensure that 
the broad array of criteria considered and the resulting 
recommendations present an accurate, coherent picture of what the 
section 347 stewardship pilots have actually accomplished and 
demonstrated. Notices concerning the National Advisory Committee's 
establishment, its membership, and meeting information will be 
published in the Federal Register. The Forest Service will provide 
organizational support to the National Committee.
    The National Advisory Committee will be responsible for obtaining 
the information it needs from the local monitoring and evaluation teams 
and will interact with these teams as needed to discharge its duties. 
The Committee, at a minimum, will consider the criteria described under 
the subheading ``Criteria for the National Advisory Committee.'' These 
criteria focus on national issues, such as, whether national forest 
policies and priorities were advanced by the new authorities (processes 
and procedures) being tested, whether the interests of non-local 
publics were adequately considered, and whether agency accountability 
for actions and outcomes was appropriately maintained. The National 
Committee will also identify and evaluate the important ``lessons 
learned'' from the stewardship pilots; they will assess what worked 
well and what did not work well. As part of this process, they will 
describe any barriers that had to be overcome or that prevented smooth 
implementation of the pilot projects.
    The National Advisory Committee will be responsible for preparing 
annual reports to the Forest Service's Washington Office Forest 
Management Staff. The Committee's reports will form the basis for the 
Forest Service's required annual reports to Congress.
    The Committee's annual reports are to be completed within 60 days 
of its receiving the reports from the local Assessment and Evaluation 
Teams. These reports will contain a compilation of descriptive data 
pertaining to such things as: the acreages treated for different 
purposes; the costs incurred; the sources of project funding; the types 
of products produced; the revenues generated; the types of 
collaborators involved in project planning, implementation, and 
monitoring; the roles played by different collaborators; and the 
processes and procedures that were tested. The reports also will 
address the information requested by Congress, the criteria listed 
under the subheading ``Criteria for National Advisory Committee,'' and 
any other issues that the National Committee determines to be 
important.
    Other Process Principles. Other principles guiding the monitoring 
and evaluation process include the following:
    * All monitoring and evaluation teams will be structured so as to 
encompass a diverse mix of resource management skills.
    * As needed and as is reasonable, the Forest Service will 
compensate monitoring and evaluation team members for any travel costs 
that they incur as a result of their service to the agency.
    * All monitoring and evaluation team members will be encouraged to 
network with their constituents and bring new information and issues 
forward.
    * Whenever possible, pilots will be designed to include two types 
of controls: (1) areas where no vegetative treatment is occurring, and 
(2) areas where standard timber sale and/or service contracting 
procedures are being observed.

Proposed Criteria

    To measure whether the new authorities have achieved the desired 
results, four categories of criteria will be considered by the 
different monitoring and evaluation (ME) groups. These categories are: 
(1) Biophysical critiera, (2) economic criteria, (3) social criteria, 
and (4) administrative criteria.
    Within each category, some of the criteria call for compiling 
numerical or descriptive data, while other criteria require that some 
aspect of a pilot project's performance be assessed. As noted earlier, 
to assure compliance with FACA requirements, the local Data Inventory 
Teams will consider only the criteria calling for numerical or 
descriptive responses. Within this constraint, and recognizing that 
there may be certain questions that may be relevant in some, but not 
all, situations, it is proposed that all teams be free to entertain 
questions beyond those listed. In all instances, however, the criteria 
that are listed, as a minimum, would be addressed by the designated 
groups. In addition to addressing the criteria set-forth, the local 
Data Inventory Teams will be encouraged to establish photo points that 
will record the condition of the landscape, before, during, and after 
project implementation.
    Criteria for the Local Data Inventory Teams. The local Data 
Inventory Teams will answer, at a minimum, the 16 criteria listed in 
this section. Additional criteria may be added, but they must be of an 
objective, factual nature.
    Biophysical Criteria will include:

[[Page 44688]]

    (1) The stated purpose and need for the project.
    (2) The project objectives.
    (3) The land management treatments being applied. All treatments 
applied in connection with a particular are to be considered, 
including: the mileage of road maintained or obliterated; the mileage 
of trails maintained or obliterated; the acreage of soil and water 
improvement; the acreage of terrestrial habitat restored or enhanced; 
the mileage of stream habitat restored or enhanced; the acreage of 
fuels management by mechanical means and/or prescribed burning; the 
acreage treated to decrease insect, disease, or fire risks, and/or to 
enhance forest health; and the acreage of noxious and/or exotic weed 
control. For each treatment that is applied, the local Data Inventory 
teams with gather data on the accomplishments realized to date using 
regular appropriations, the exchange of goods for services, or retained 
receipts.
    Economic Criteria will include:
    (4) The total project costs, and the breakdown of these costs into 
the following categories: formal project planning and NEPA (including 
citizen/public involvement in the process); sale/contract preparation; 
sale/contract administration; citizen involvement (during project 
implementation); monitoring, evaluation & reporting (including citizen 
involvement in this process); and other (to be specified).
    (5) The funding of project implementation, and the breakdown of 
this funding into the following categories: exchange of goods for 
services; retained receipts; regular appropriations; cooperator 
contributions (cash); cooperator contributions (materials or in-kind 
services); and other funding sources (to be specified). For 
appropriated funds, the local Data Inventory teams will show the 
amounts provided from each of the Forest Service's recognized fund 
codes.
    (6) The types and amounts of forest products produced, including: 
sawtimber; pulpwood; posts and poles; and different types of special 
forest products (ferns, pine boughs, pine straw, mushrooms, etc.). In 
all instances, product amounts will be expressed in terms of commonly 
recognized units.
    (7) The total project receipts, and the proportion of these 
receipts attributable to: timber products; special forest products; and 
other products (to be specified).
    (8) The disposition of the project receipts, showing the amounts: 
returned to Treasury; exchanged for services; retained and reinvested; 
or distributed in some other manner (to be specified).
    (9) The manner in which the pilot changed employment or 
entrepreneurial opportunities in the local community.
    (10) The special skills required of a contractor for the project.
    (11) The difficulties encountered in hiring contractors with the 
needed skills.
    (12) The average wage paid in connection with the project and 
whether this wage rate represented woods a worker, service contract, or 
Davis-Bacon wage rate.
    (13) The duration of the contract for this project and whether the 
contract period was longer or shorter than what is common with 
conventional timber sale or service contract projects.
    Social Criteria will include:
    (14) The individuals and/or groups (other than the Forest Service) 
who collaborated in planning, implementing, or monitoring the project, 
and the manner in which they were selected.
    (15) The roles that each collaborator performed.
    Administrative Criteria will include:
    (16) The new processes and/or procedures that were used in 
connection with the project. The possibilities to be considered 
include: awarding of contracts on a ``best value'' basis (specify how 
``best value'' was determined); designation by prescription; end 
results contracting; exchange of goods for services; retention of 
receipts; use of an appraisal method other than standard procedures 
(method to be specified); offering sales (appraised value of over 
$10,000) without advertisement; using state foresters as federal 
agents; using service contracts of over 5 years duration; using 
contract logging with subsequent sale of the cut products; or using 
some other new process or procedure (to be specified).
    Criteria for the Local Assessment and Evaluation Teams. The local 
Assessment and Evaluation teams will use the evidence compiled by the 
local Data Inventory teams to, as a minimum, address the 14 criteria 
that follow. The Assessment and Evaluation teams may consider any 
additional criteria that they deem relevant.
    Biophysical Criteria will include:
    (1) An assessment as to whether the stated purposes and needs for 
the project were fulfilled and the basis for the conclusion.
    (2) An assessment as to whether the resource management objectives 
of the project were realized and an explanation for the conclusion.
    (3) An assessment as to whether the Forest Service was able to do a 
better job of ecosystem management by giving a single contractor the 
responsibility for a ``bundled group'' of resource work activities 
(e.g., timber extraction, watershed restoration, habitat improvement, 
and road obliteration) on the project area and an explanation of the 
conclusion.
    Economic Criteria will include:
    (4) An assessment as to whether employment opportunities for local 
communities were enhanced as a result of the project and the basis for 
the conclusion.
    (5) An assessment as to whether the prevailing wage rate in the 
local community was enhanced as a result of the project and the basis 
for the conclusion.
    Social Criteria will include:
    (6) An assessment as to whether the dynamics of the collaborative 
process permitted all interested parties to participate and the basis 
for the conclusion.
    (7) An assessment as to whether and how collaboration facilitated 
planning, implementing, and monitoring for the project.
    Administrative Criteria will include:
    (8) An assessment as to whether difficulties were experienced in 
interpreting or implementing the Section 347 authorities.
    (9) An assessment as to whether the project planning and 
implementation timelines were being met and what contributed to that 
outcome.
    (10) An assessment as to how the new processes and/or procedures 
that were tested in this project compare to the Forest Service's 
conventional timber sale or service contract authorities. As 
appropriate, in making that determination, the teams will consider the 
following performance variable: attractiveness to potential bidders; 
fairness to potential bidders; implications for the Forest Service's 
ability to maintain accountability for the treatments being applied and 
the forest products being removed; implications for the Forest 
Service's ability to implement ecosystem management projects 
efficiently and effectively; implications for the Forest Service's 
ability to successfully manage small diameter, under-utilized material; 
the ease of administration; the agency's ability to help meet the needs 
of rural, resource dependent communities; and their performance with 
regard to any other indicators deemed to be relevant.
    (11) An assessment as to how useful the new, tested authorities 
were overall and the team's recommendations for applying the 
authorities more broadly.
    (12) An assessment as to what other legislative, regulatory, or 
administrative changes would have helped make the project more 
effective.

[[Page 44689]]

    (13) An assessment as to what type of contractual non-compliance 
problems occurred, if any, and how expeditiously they were resolved.
    (14) A recommendation as to what should be done differently on 
another pilot project.
    Criteria for the National Advisory Committee. The National Advisory 
Committee will be required to address the following nine criteria. Some 
of the criteria are the same as those asked at the local level. Where 
this is the case, the duplication is deliberate and reflects the belief 
that these criteria have relevancy at both levels. The national team 
members, like their local counterparts, will be free to address other 
criteria that they deem to be relevant; however, it is worth noting 
that their ability to do so may be constrained by the nature of the 
data compiled locally.
    Biophysical Criteria will include: Based on the collective 
experience of the pilot projects;
    (1) A determination as to whether the stated purposes and needs for 
the projects were fulfilled and an explanation for the conclusion.
    (2) A determination as to whether the resource management 
objectives of the projects were realized and the basis for the 
conclusion.
    (3) An assessment as to whether the Forest Service was able to do a 
better job of ecosystem management by giving a single contractor the 
responsibility for a ``bundled group'' of resource work activities 
(e.g., timber extraction, watershed restoration, habitat improvement, 
and road obliteration) on the project area and an explanation for the 
conclusion.
    Economic Criteria will include: Based on the collective experience 
of the pilots:
    (4) A determination as to whether any of the new processes and 
procedures that were tested appear to represent effective ways to 
create new or enhance existing employment or entrepreneurial 
opportunities in local communities.
    (5) A determination of what administrative costs were incurred at 
the regional and national levels in order to carry out the stewardship 
pilots.
    Social Criteria will include: Based on the collective experience of 
the pilots:
    (6) An assessment as to what steps were taken to ensure that 
regional and/or national publics were not excluded or placed at a 
disadvantage in the collaborative process, and a determination of 
whether the steps taken were effective.
    (7) A determination as to the potential for stewardship contracting 
to improve the quality of life within local resource-dependent 
communities (jobs, environmental conditions, economic infrastructure, 
etc.).
    Administrative Criteria will include: Based on the collective 
experience of the pilots:
    (8) An assessment as to what difficulties were experienced in 
interpreting or implementing the Section 347 authorities.
    (9) An assessment as to how the new processes and/or procedures 
that were tested compare to the Forest Service's conventional timber 
sale or service contract authorities. As appropriate, in making these 
determinations, the committee will consider the following performance 
variables: attractiveness to potential bidders; fairness to potential 
bidders; implications for the Forest Service's ability to maintain 
accountability for the treatments being applied and the forest products 
being removed; implications for the Forest Service's ability to 
implement ecosystem management projects efficiently and effectively; 
implications for the Forest Service's ability to successfully manage 
small diameter, under-utilized material; ease of administration; 
ability to help meet the needs of rural, resource dependent 
communities; and any other indicators deemed to be relevant.
    Lastly, the National Advisory Committee will make a recommendation 
for which of the new authorities that were tested appear to warrant 
broader application on a permanent basis.

    Dated: August 10, 1999.
Phil Janik,
Acting Chief.
[FR Doc. 99-21247 Filed 8-16-99; 8:45 am]
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