H-1373.1  _______________________________________________


                          HOUSE BILL 1785



State of Washington      57th Legislature     2001 Regular Session


By Representatives Murray, Alexander, Doumit, Rockefeller, Esser, Sump, Kenney and McIntire


Read first time 02/05/2001.  Referred to Committee on Capital Budget.

Implementing the recommendations of the joint legislative audit and review committee report regarding capital budget programs investing in the environment.

    AN ACT Relating to implementing the recommendations of the joint legislative audit and review committee report regarding capital budget programs investing in the environment; adding a new section to chapter 43.41 RCW; and creating a new section.




    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.  The legislature finds that the amount of overall requests for funding for natural resource-related programs in the capital budget has been steadily growing.  The legislature also finds that there is an increasing interest by the public in examining the performance of the projects and programs to determine the return on their investments.  The legislature further finds that there is a need to improve the data that is collected by state agencies and grant and loan recipients in order to better measure the outcomes of projects and programs, and that a coordinated and integrated response by state agencies will allow for better targeting of resources.  The legislature intends to implement the recommendations contained in the joint legislative audit and review committee's report number 01-1 on investing in the environment in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of these natural resource-related programs funded in the state capital budget.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  A new section is added to chapter 43.41 RCW to read as follows:

    (1) The office of financial management shall consult with natural resource agencies and develop a plan to implement the recommendations of the joint legislative audit and review committee report number 01-1 on investing in the environment, particularly regarding development of baseline data, project prioritization and selection criteria, monitoring systems, shared and accessible data systems, and improved coordination among natural resource agencies and others.

    (2) The plan shall include recommendations to the legislature regarding necessary changes in current law, funding requirements, and methods to establish priorities and standards to use in focusing resources and providing greater accountability.

    (3) The plan under this section shall develop project prioritization and selection processes and criteria for grants and loans subject to the provisions of this section, and these may include:

    (a) A clearly documented project prioritization and selection process that ensures that the process is open, objective, and clear as to how decisions are made;

    (b) Criteria that evaluates the benefits to environmental quality that are expected to be produced by the projects.  For projects that address problems which are systemic in nature, the criteria shall address both the expected short-term and long-term benefits of the project;

    (c) Criteria that evaluates the likelihood of the proposed environmental benefits being achieved based upon the applicant's ability to perform the project and the overall design of the project;

    (d) An assessment of the benefits of the project relative to the amount of money provided in the grant or loan;

    (e) A preference for projects that can document a readiness to proceed;

    (f) A proposed implementation plan and schedule that is specified in contract; and

    (g) Utilization of a minimum investment threshold, which denies project funding for projects that have not demonstrated that they are likely to produce desired returns from the investment.  When determining whether the minimum investment threshold has been met, the agency may positively consider the quality of the information or data that may be obtained for adaptive management purposes if the project is unsuccessful.

    (4) The plan under this section shall develop project reporting and monitoring requirements and adaptive management processes for grants and loans that provide:

    (a) Preferences for projects that include baseline monitoring;

    (b) A requirement for implementation monitoring, or confirmation that the project that was funded was implemented according to its design and contract;

    (c) A requirement for effectiveness monitoring, or an accurate assessment of whether the objectives of the project are being achieved.  Effectiveness monitoring includes the use of:  Clearly articulated objectives to be addressed; appropriate indicators and variables; standardized protocols to allow for comparison among locations, times, or programs; and programs to ensure quality assurance and quality control of the data;

    (d) A strategy for validation monitoring and adaptive management, or how the information obtained from the project will be analyzed and integrated into decision making; and

    (e) Coordinated approaches for sharing workload and information among appropriate federal, state, local, and tribal agencies, nonprofit and volunteer groups, and other project sponsors.

    (5) The plan under this section shall also require that each natural resource-related agency must eventually publish workload and outcome measures for the grant or loan program that can be used both for program management and assessment of program performance by citizens and the legislature, and provide that each natural resource-related agency shall consult with an external advisory group regarding program practices and performance.

    (6) The plan under this section may provide for its implementation in phases to maximize use of available funding for improving the environment while incorporating the committee's recommendations to improve monitoring, accountability, and the effectiveness of the grants and loans.

    (7) For purposes of this section, "natural resource-related agencies" includes the department of ecology, the department of natural resources, the department of fish and wildlife, the state conservation commission, the state parks and recreation commission, the interagency committee for outdoor recreation, the salmon recovery funding board, and the public works board within the department of community, trade, and economic development.

    (8) The office of financial management shall report to the natural resource and fiscal committees of the legislature on the implementation of this section and any recommendations by September 1, 2002.  Natural resource agencies shall assist the office of financial management in developing the plan and recommendations under this section.


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