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					USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service 967 Illinois Avenue, Suite #3 Bangor, Maine 04401 5/2006

GUIDE FOR APPRAISING TECHNOLOGY IN FIELD OFFICE OPERATIONS IN MAINE

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Section II Operations Management •

Assess the staff’s ability to access the General Manual, FOTG, natural resource information, and other policy and directions that are posted online.

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Section III, Programs

Conservation Technical Assistance • Is the planning policy being followed according to General Manual, National Planning Procedures Handbook and Section III of the FOTG for all programs and/or resource conservation planning? Do plans meet the requirements of the National Planning Procedures Handbook? Are client objectives documented? Are plans achieving the desired results on the land? Are conservation plans written to the Resource Management System level? If not, do progressive plans include a list of required practices for an RMS plan per policy? Are practice narratives written to adequately describe the what, where, and why for each practice? Are job sheets enclosed when referenced? Are narratives written as decisions? Are erosion calculations included in the plan, being done correctly, and recorded on the most recent version of the worksheet? Are SOWs adapted to the local situation and enclosed when applicable? Do the conservation planning activities reflect specific program needs, i.e., the Food Security Act (FSA), and/or multiple resource concern planning in priority areas on lands with a high potential for implementation? Are conservation plans meeting needs and priorities of the district? Is adherence to environmental screening policy being documented and necessary interagency consultation being conducted when required? Are environmental evaluations completed and fully consider potential impacts on humans and the environment? Are alternatives provided which minimize or avoid potential adverse impacts? Do conservation plans take water quality concerns into account? Are cost estimates for practices accurate?

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Implementation of Conservation Plans. • Is conservation applied in terms of land user’s objectives?

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Are conservation plans achieving the desired results on the land in relation to district needs and priorities or requirements of special USDA activities such as the FSA and water quality? What is the quality of completed field work? Is documentation and supporting data adequate? Are applied treatments compatible with planned or potential resource management systems? Is there documentation that the client was properly informed of operation and maintenance requirements?

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Followup Assistance. • • • • • • Have priorities been established for follow up assistance? What system is in use? Is it effective? Is follow up carried out as an open ended part of planning and implemented per the NCPM? Have priorities been established for follow up assistance?

Watersheds • What is the understanding by personnel of national priorities for water resources programs, objectives, authorities, policies, etc., of watershed programs and their relationship to field and area office needs and programs? Are public participation methods started in the beginning of the planning process and further incorporated as an integral component throughout the planning process? Is there consideration of alternative measures to solve watershed problems including nonstructural measures, if appropriate? What is the status of applications, authorizations, and work plans in relation to program potential?

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Is there early involvement of all appropriate disciplines?

Are there special provisions for low income and minority groups?

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Watershed Operations. • • • • • What is current status of watershed plans in terms of design completion, permits and approvals, installation costs (estimates vs. actual), etc? What is status of construction/land treatment? Is work being done on schedule? What is the quality of construction?

Is there proper compliance with safety and other regulations?

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Is copy of plan available for ready reference? Are the operation and maintenance (O&M) agreements being carried out?

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What techniques are used to assure that the sponsors understand how landscapes/views will change and how the system will function when completed? Is progress being tracked? Is there an estimate of sponsors cost to install measures? Are easements being enforced? Is there a land treatment watershed project?

Section IV Technology Development Technology Development Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) • Are hard copy FOTG materials and technical references current?

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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Does the Section I index include the needed locally supplemental references? Have locally developed materials received required approval? Are all staff members using the latest version of technical guide materials in their field office references? Is there an understanding of how to update the FOTG to meet current needs? Is record copy of FOTG maintained at the level changes are made and approved? Is the FOTG complete and accurate with appropriate modifications at SO level to address to state and local conditions? Are there reference materials available for Section I, including handbooks and resource maps? Are RMS, BCS and ACS guide sheets in place in Section III to permit identification of systems which are available to treat problems? Are conservation treatments that are not conservation practices identified and described? What is needed in the FOTG that is not now included? Is an index included in each section showing the items that occur in that section and the date of issuance for that item? Is the FO following the policy in GM 450-401? Does the guide appear professional? Is it ready for public scrutiny? Note other specific comments for each section of the FOTG. Are all resource concerns being addressed? Does Field Office staff understand the purpose of the FOTG? Has the FOTG been modified at the FO level to reflect local conditions? Does Field Office staff understand the process used to update FOTG materials (including Standards and Specifications) to meet current needs? Can Field Office staff access and use eFOTG? FOTG Review by each section:

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What new technology tools are needed by field staff to improve efficacy and proficiency of their work? Is staff aware of the availability and use of national technology tools, manuals, handbooks, technology notes?

Section I – Reference lists, maps, erosion prediction, etc. • Is GIS data (USDA or County) utilized for map references in Section I? • • Does the FOTG contain updated local maps as appropriate (e.g., local utilities, source water maps, resource maps, ect).

Section I. Are reference lists, maps, erosion prediction and other locally needed references listed and are they current? Give special emphasis to the erosion prediction section. Comments:

Section II – Soils and site information • • Is a valid soils dataset installed for WIN-PST and is this being used? Are hydric soil and HEL (with frozen k & T values) soil lists available and how are they being used?

Comments

Section III – Planning systems and quality criteria Are Updated RMS guide sheets for all land uses present? Are RMS representative of what is used in the field? Are all resource concerns being addressed? Comments

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Section IV – Practice Standards & Specifications • • Does Field Office have and use computer software required by practice standards (ex. 590 – Nutrient Management Software, WIN-PST)? Section IV. Are practice standards current, (within 3-5 year) and properly identified as to area of coverage? Is WQ adequately reflected? Are interim standards still current (not expired due to 3 year life limit)?

Comments

Section V – Conservation Effects • Are the tools and evaluation data being used, included in the eFOTG? Comments

Technology Transfer Soils • • Is SSURGO soil database information certified; and, are there perceived problems with current soil database information? Is current soils data software (ex. Soil Data Viewer) used to prepare soil interpretive products?

Management of Geospatial Datasets • •

Is Field Office staff familiar with the Geodata Administrator and his/her responsibilities? Is Field Office staff familiar with organization of geospatial datasets on the Field Office or Service Center shared server.

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Can Field Office staff members identify the directory paths to these datasets: Standard 1:24000 overlays for conservation planning (contours, ponds, rivers, streams, NWI, roads)

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U.S. Census Data 1:24000 scanned topographic images (DRGs) Threatened and Endangered Species, Significant Habitats datasets Units of government boundaries Watershed boundaries County or statewide hydrography Index maps for 7.5-min. quadrangles and orthophotos County orthophoto mosaic Individual orhophotos for 7.5-min. quadrangles E911 roads Impaired watersheds • What datasets are missing or in need of an update?

Conservation Planning • Is current conservation planning and contracting software (ex. Toolkit and ProTracts) being used to prepare conservation plans, maps, and contracts (see related below)? Is geospatial data utilized in the conservation planning process to prepare map products? o Can Field Office staff members generate these digital maps: Conservation Plan Map Soils Map Environmental Screening Map Location Map based upon topographic images o Can Field Office staff members attach digital maps to e-mails for the purpose of transmitting data for review to state agencies?

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Are electronic cost lists current and available for preparing Plan Schedule of Operations for program contracting (cost share); and, are changes, updates, additions needed to current cost lists?

Conservation Effects • Is available software being used to calculate conservation effects; and, are there recommendations/needs for additional software to calculate conservation effects?

Software Training/Proficiency • Are manuals and users guides available for the software used by Field Office staff? If manuals or other guides are in digital format or on-line, are users able to find the help they need? Is there at least one staff person that is a proficient user of each software program regularly used in the Field Office?

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Environment : Natural and Cultural Resources National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) • Does Field Office staff understand the NEPA Act of 1969 and NRCS policies and responsibilities related to endangered species, prime agricultural land, wetlands, floodplains, and significant historical and archaeological matters? Does the staff also understand NEPA’s impact on NRCS technical assistance delivery? Is the Special Environmental Concerns section of ME-CPA-52 -- Inventory of Resource Concerns to be addressed in Plan being properly documented to ensure compliance with NEPA concerns during the planning process? Is the number of undertakings reported on ME-CR-1 cultural resources worksheets in the last two FY’s appropriate and reasonable. Does Field Office staff know which planned conservation practices might require national, state or local permits/certifications?

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Quality Criteria • • Does Field Office staff understand the quality criteria used in conservation planning? Is the ME-CPA-52 – Inventory of Resource Concerns to be Addressed in Plan and corresponding inventories (RUSLE, WHSI, etc.) being used to properly inventory Soil, Water, Air, Plant, Animal, and Human concerns; and document appropriate quality improvements for the plan level (RMS, Progressive)? Is there availability and understanding of NRCS guidelines for developmental statements on major NRCS actions and environmental concerns in working with individuals, groups, and units of government? Is documentation of environmental evaluations adequate? Is there a maintenance of reviewable records for meeting NEPA requirements? Are cultural resources considered in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, State Level Agreement with the SHPO, and appropriate Consultation Protocols with Tribes? Are ME-CR-1 cultural resources worksheets and attachments properly prepared?

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Do assistance notes or the special environmental concerns notes of form CPA-52 record the date when the Field Office provided clients with the fact sheet “Cultural Resources and your Conservation Project”? Do case files indicate with ME-CR-1 cultural resources worksheets or correspondence that Section 106 cultural resources reviews are properly completed? Are ME-CR-1 cultural resources worksheets and any correspondence on completion of cultural resources reviews properly dated prior to the completion of CPA-52 forms; and do recorded dates indicate proper completion of CPA-52 forms before the signing of conservation plans and contracts? Are federal laws and policy statements understood and followed in planning: Federal Water Pollution Control Act and amendments? Executive Orders on Flood Plains and Wetlands? Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA)? USDA policy on land use (9500-3)? Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA)?

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Section IV Technology and Development

Map products and inventories Aerial Photography • • • Is hard copy aerial photography utilized by Field Office staff; and if so, source(s) and flights? Is electronic GIS orthoimagery used by Field Office staff; and if so, source(s) and year of flights (if not used- why)? Are orthoimagery files properly identified and located in appropriate folder locations?

Soils Maps • • • Are hard copy soil maps utilized by Field Office staff; and if so, are they the latest available? Is soil survey digitized? Are there deficiencies in any soils software that affect the access to or use of soils data?

Other Inventory/Maps • • • •

Does Field Office have county-wide coverage of current USGS topographic maps in electronic format? Does Field Office have appropriate copies of 305B reports and river basin management plans? List other map/inventory information regularly used by Field Office staff; also list other map/inventory information that would be useful (type and format)? How are FPPA requests processed (AD 1006 Form)?

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Section V Soils

SOILS – Getting and Using Soils Information Counties currently Managing Initial or Update Soil Survey Projects • • • • • • Is the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on file and actively reviewed with the Soil Survey Project Leader and the SWCD Board? Is the DC and Partnership actively involved in providing critical inputs to all sections of the soil survey manuscript and field work? Does DC and Partnership have a plan to learn all the major soils in this county and how they relate to geology and landscape position? Does DC and Partnership actively participate in reviews of soil survey work? Is the SWCD updated on the progress of the soil survey on an annual basis? Does the DC and/or soil survey project leader meet with the users of the soil survey to assess their needs (interpretations) and review soils survey progress? Is standard disclaimer included with all soils data that is released?

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Counties with Modern Soil Surveys • • • • • • Is the published Soil Survey adequate? When was it published? Is there a need to develop new soils interpretations? Is the digital soil survey available and used by DC and Partnership Employees? Is a resource Soil Scientist assigned to this District? Who? Does the DC have a copy of the County Soil Survey marked “Official Copy? Does the DC and Partnership mark errors, omissions, etc in the “Official Copy” of the Soil Survey and notify the SRS to make changes?

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Section II FOTG Soils information in Field Office and in FOTG • • • Are soil and site information current? Are Non-Tech soil descriptions available and used in conservation planning? Is information available for highly erodible soils used in conservation planning?

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Section V Soils • •

Can the DC and partnership access the list of Important Farmlands of ME? Can the DC and partnership employees access Soil Data Viewer, and/or Soil Data Mart for planning purposes and to produce reports when soils data is requested by customers? Has a list of unique or Locally Important Farmland been developed, or is one needed? Where and what are the criteria for these categories if there is a list? Does the Field Office staff know what the Official Soil Survey data is?

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Soil Landscape Investigations • • • • • Who provides wetland determinations in this county? Are soils investigations being properly documented on approved forms or log sheets? Are conservation planning decisions being made on the basis of documented soils investigations? Is conservation practice design and application being performed on the basis of soils investigations? Site examples of cases where landowners objectives or expectations had to be re-considered due to soil limitations discovered as a result of sitespecific soils investigations.

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Section IV General Engineering Function

GENERAL ENGINEERING FUNCTION Problems and Needs • Have engineering problems and needs based on workload been identified and communicated to the engineering support team by the field office staff? Is the engineering staff aware of engineering problems and needs? Have they adequately responded to the identified problems and needs?

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State and Local Regulations Technical assistance in water quality and pollution abatement • Is assistance in compliance with current policy and state regulations (i.e., animal waste management, erosion and sediment control, storm water management)? Are locations of confined animal operations properly documented and information accessible?

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Relationship with other agencies • • Does the staff communicate with other Federal, State and local agencies on areas of mutual concern? Does the staff have a working relationship with regulatory agencies to insure plans meet regulatory requirements?

Criteria and Guidelines Engineering tools • Are technical personnel familiar with standard drawings, engineering job sheets construction specifications, and engineering design tools

Technical guides • Are drainage, irrigation and other technical guides up to date?

Engineering bulletins and directives • Are NHQ and State directives used and understood by staff?

Engineering Handbook

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Are handbooks, National Engineering Manual, EFH, AWMFH, NEH’s, etc., current( If “hard” copies if maintained), available, and used by technical staff?

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Section VI General Engineering Function

Technical releases and notes • Are technical personnel familiar with appropriate technical material?

Soil survey reports • Does the technical staff understand the engineering section of the report?

Planning Conservation plans • • • Do the plans reflect proper use of engineering practices? Are engineering practices planned within the scope of the standard? Are SWAPA+H requirements being met?

Project Plans • • Is the proper use of engineering practices planned? Does staff with appropriate engineering approval authority review and approve engineering aspects of plans?

Other resource plans • • Have the proper engineering practices been selected based on intended use? Does the engineering staff review and approve engineering aspects of plans as needed?

Application Investigations • Are surveys, investigations, and site evaluations sufficient for design of the practices involved?

Engineering designs

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Are designs based on sound decisions regarding geology, soils, topography, hydrology, landscape architecture, environmental, and other engineering considerations? Are designs in accordance with standards? Are available computer programs used effectively? Are jobs properly classified and approved in accordance with policy (kinds and levels of assistance)? Are review and approval procedures adequate? Are forms, standard designs, and data sheets current and applicable to the task for which they are intended? Are changes or new standard forms and design aids needed? Are design calculations, construction drawings, specifications, O&M plans and other documentation needed for installation of engineering practices properly prepared and available?

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Construction • • • • • • Was layout for construction timely and adequate? Are measures installed in accordance with plans and specifications? Are notes legible, adequate, and properly identified, based on Technical Release 62? Are quantity and as-built notes complete, as required? Are contract and design modifications documented and have the necessary approval? Are resource soil scientists, geologists, design, environmental, agricultural, hydraulic, construction and soil mechanics engineers, and landscape architects providing on-site assistance when unusual or different conditions are encountered? Are construction designs and specifications provided to owner to provide to contractor? Are “as-built” plans of work kept current during construction and completed in a timely manner upon completion of construction? Have documentary photos been made during construction (when deemed necessary)?

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Quality Assurance Spot Checking • • • Do spot-checking records indicate conformance with policy directives? Are spot-check results used for management and training? What suggestions do the field office employees have on how spotcheck procedures be improved?

Records and note keeping • • • • • • Is there adequate documentation of the design computations for specific engineering conservation practices and related components? Are site location map, soil data and other maps supporting engineering plan complete and accurate? Has a hazard evaluation been documented for all embankments? Is the soil/geologic investigation properly documented with the engineer’s recommendations for use of construction materials? Are engineering survey notes properly identified, complete, and checked? Is there adequate documentation of practice checkout and certifications of completion ( survey notes, as-built plans, etc.)?

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Section IV General Engineering Function

Environmental Concerns Environmental policies and legislation (federal, state, and local) • • • • • • Is there an appreciation and understanding of Service policy relative to the environment? Is technical assistance in line with State laws and regulations? Are appropriate features incorporated into practice application and project work? Are methods and procedures monitored and evaluated to judge effectiveness? Are landscape resources given proper consideration in planning and design? Does the field office staff understand NRCS and ME policy with regard to wetlands and how it applies to practices and programs employed by the Field Office?

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Are hydrological procedures for wetland determinations and scope and effect understood, used, and properly documented?

Engineering leadership role Fulfillment of engineering staff responsibilities • • Does engineering staff provide technical advice and alternatives to staff? Do proposed solutions meet NRCS policy and standards?

Approval authority Area approval authority • Is it current and compatible with current staff experience and training?

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Individual approval authorities • • • Does each field office technical employee have a properly signed and dated Engineering Job Approval Authority (EJAA) chart? Do individuals understand and follow their job approval authority? Do individuals know how approval authority can be changed and are familiar with State directives in the National Engineering Manual regarding approval authority? Is approval authority commensurate with grade level, training, experience, and legal requirements? Are individuals planning and designing practices that exceed their JAA and submitting these plans and designs for review and approval? How many plans have been developed by individuals and approved by others with greater EJAA in the past 12 months? (Cite examples) What measures are being taken by field office employees to increase their individuals EJAA? Has engineering staff or supervisors denied requests for increased EJAA? If so, for what reasons?

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Equipment and Supplies Equipment used by engineering staff, office equipment, field equipment • • • Is adequate modern equipment available? Identify additional or new equipment needs. Is engineering equipment properly marked, stored, and transported? Is the equipment being properly cleaned, checked, and cared for and service recorded in accordance with the National Engineering Manual? Is engineering equipment being properly adjusted and maintained? Are field office employees trained and competent in the use of available equipment? Are field office employees aware of limitations of equipment and procedures?

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Safety Applicable directives • Is construction being conducted in accordance with appropriate safety regulations (i.e., OSHA trenching regulations)?

Interviews with technical staff • • • Is engineering field work being conducted in a safe manner for all personnel involved? Are actions and communications pertaining to work in vicinity of utilities documented and in accordance with State policies? Is staff aware of the potential dangers on construction sites such as working around heavy equipment, open trenches, or on-site utilities to self, workers, and other having incidental access?

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5/2/2006 - S. Butler revision

VII. GENERAL TECHNICAL FUNCTION for FORESTRY & BIOLOGY A. Problems and Needs • Have technical problems and needs been identified and communicated to the resource staff by the field office staff? _____ • Is the resource staff aware of technical problems and needs? _____ • Have they adequately responded to the identified problems and needs? ____

Comments:

B. Federal, State and Local Laws and Regulations • Is NRCS policy pertaining to compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations followed adequately? _____ • Are NRCS procedures being followed to adequately document compliance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations? _____ • Are required consultations with federal and/or state and/or local regulatory agencies being conducted? _____ • Does the field staff communicate with other Federal, State and local agencies (i.e. USFWS, ME DIF&W, MFS, NHP) on areas of mutual concern? _____

Comments:
A.

B. Delivery of technical guidance and use of available technology • Are NHQ and State technical bulletins and directives used and understood by staff? _____ • Are National Manuals and Handbooks for Forestry, Plant Materials, Biology used and understood by field staff? _____ • Is field staff familiar with the location of technical materials pertaining to forestry or biology in the eFOTG? _____ • Is field staff familiar with appropriate technical materials pertaining to forestry or biology? _____ • Does the staff understand and use forest management or wildlife interpretation sections of the soil survey reports? _____

Comments:

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C. Conservation Plans for Individuals and Areas • Are client and plan objectives identified and clearly stated? • Are resource inventories, investigations, and site evaluations sufficient for plan development? • Are available site assessment tools used effectively? • Do the plans reflect proper use of forestry and plant material or biology principles and practices? • Are forestry or biology practices planned within the scope of standards and specifications? • Are there more comprehensive plans included with the conservation plan (i.e. pest, forest management plans)? • Are these additional plans complete, accurate and contain references to the practices in the conservation plan? _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

Comments:

D. Environmental Concerns • Is there an appreciation and understanding of NRCS policy relative to the environment? • Do employees use the National Environmental Compliance Handbook in planning and documenting practice effects? • Are SWAPA+H requirements being met, including documenting the Conservation Practice Physical Effects (CPPE)? (See Section IV Technology Development, C. Environment and Natural and Cultural Resources, for more specific questions.) • Is technical assistance in line with State laws and regulations? • Are appropriate features incorporated into practice application and project work? • Are methods and procedures monitored and evaluated to judge effectiveness? • Does the field office staff understand NRCS and ME policy with regard to wetlands and how it applies to practices and programs employed by the Field Office? • Are procedures for wetland determinations and scope and effect understood, used, and properly documented?

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_____ _____ _____ _____

_____ _____

Comments:

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E. Practice Designs • Are designs based on sound inventories, investigations, site evaluations, and decisions regarding geology, soils, topography, hydrology, landscape architecture, historic preservation, engineering and other agronomic, forestry or biological considerations? _____ • Are designs in accordance with standards and specifications? _____ • Are available tools, such as computer programs, job sheets, operation and maintenance plans and SOWs used effectively? _____ • Are practices properly classified and approved in accordance with policy (kinds and levels of assistance)? _____ • Are review and approval procedures adequate? _____ • Are job sheets and SOWs current and applicable to the task for which they are intended? _____ • Are changes of or new job sheets, SOWs and/or design aids needed? _____

Comments:

F. Approval authority for planning and design • Does each field office employee have a properly signed and dated Job Approval Authority (JAA), (GM180 – ME9, Exhibit 3B)? • Do individuals understand and follow their job approval authority? • Do individuals know how approval authority can be changed and are familiar with State directives regarding approval authority? • Is approval authority commensurate with grade level, training, experience, and legal requirements? • Are individuals planning and designing practices that exceed their JAA and submitting these plans and designs for review and approval? • How many plans have been developed by individuals and approved by others with greater JAA in the past 12 months? • What measures are being taken by field office employees to increase their individual JAA? • Does the state resource staff review (and approve when applicable) complex aspects of plans and designs?

_____ _____ _____ _____

_____ _____ _____ _____

Comments:

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G. Practice Installation and Check-out • Was layout for practice timely and adequate? • Are practices completed in accordance with plans and specifications? • Are design, installation and check-out notes legible, adequate, and properly identified? • Are quantity and as-built notes complete, as required? • Are contract and design modifications documented and have the necessary approval? • Are state resource specialists providing on-site assistance when unusual or different conditions are encountered? • Are written specifications, job sheets and/or SOW provided to owner to provide to contractor and documented in file? • Are “as-built” plans of work kept current during practice work and completed in a timely manner upon completion of practice? • Have documentary photos been made during design, installation and check-out (when deemed necessary)? _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

Comments:

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H. Quality Assurance Spot Checking • Have spot checks been requested and completed per NRCS policy? _____ • Do spot-checking records indicate conformance with policy directives? _____ • Are spot-check results used for management and training? _____ • What suggestions do the field office employees have on how spot-check procedures be improved?

Comments:

I.

Records and note keeping • Are site location map, soil data and other maps supporting forest or biology management plans complete and accurate? _____ • Are records available to document the completion of the deliverable items in each practices’ SOW? _____ • Is the soil/geologic investigation properly documented with the resource specialists’ recommendations for use of materials? _____ • Are inventory/survey notes properly identified, complete, and checked? _____

SUMMARY Commendations:

Recommendations:

Actions for S.O.:

Actions for F.O.:

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(I do not know how to incorporate what I have come up with into this document. This is what I have developed for my planning review. Alice B. 4/06)

Field Office Technology Review – General Planning ___ Do conservation plans meet Conservation Plan Checklist requirements? (document attached) ___ For required support documents that are not in the plan file: Is location of item(s) adequately noted for easy reference? ___ Are documented items complete and sufficient to support plan development? If “No” to any of the above, describe what is lacking:

___ Are plan narratives clear, appropriate and specific to site/operation? ___ Are jobsheets and designs included in plan file as appropriate? ___ Do plans meet clients’ objectives? ___ Do plans reflect local priorities? ___ Is NRCS planning policy being followed? ___ Are plans achieving the desired effects? ___ Are RMS alternatives and owner decisions documented? ___ Are practices planned and designed within the scope of standards? ___ Is technical assistance in line with local, state, and federal laws and regulations? Comments / Notes:

___ Is there a FO system for follow-up assistance? If yes, what is done?

___ Is planning open-ended, in line with the cyclic nature of the 9 steps of planning? ___ Does FO staff consult/communicate with partner agencies on technical issues? ___ Does FO staff appropriately consult/communicate with NRCS technical specialists for unusual conditions and/or areas where they lack experience? Does FO staff exhibit knowledge of ability to access online technical and policy information, including:

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___ GM and Bulletins ___ eFOTG – standards, jobsheets, tools, templates, etc. ___ National Handbooks and manuals ___ Software tools: RUSLE2, WIN-PST, Nutrient Management Spreadsheet ___ Electronic Grazing Plan worksheet ___ Is FOTG hard copy up to date, or marked “Archived” if not maintained? (for discussion): ___ Are there local supplements to the FOTG? ___ Are RMS, BCS, ACS guidesheets in Sec III? ___ Is the Local Erosion Prediction, maintained in Sec. I? List any FOTG needs:

___ Does each employee have Job Approval Authority chart (GM180 – ME9, Exhibit 3B)? ___ Are approval levels appropriate for employee grade and experience? ___ Have FO spot checks been requested and completed? ___ Have technical needs identified during spot checks been addressed?

List technical needs that have been identified during this FO Review:

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Economics for Field Office Technology Reviews (Draft for FY06) Many of these questions are subjective in nature, because we are unable to collect personal financial information from clients. For example, the decision on whether or not conservation plans are economically viable, or whether or not a client was given enough information to make an informed decision from an economic standpoint, is a judgement call. Also, clients vary considerably in the amount of risk they deem acceptable. General ____Are conservation plans economically viable from a cost, labor, management, risk perspective?

____Are human and social considerations documented on CP-52?

____Are economic considerations documented in the assistance notes?

Cost-Effectiveness ____Was client given enough information to make an informed decision from an economic standpoint? Types of information include alternative practices, installation costs, O&M requirements, labor required, level of management required, etc.

____Is there more than one alternative discussed or documented in the assistance notes? If other alternatives were not documented, were they at least considered? (Costeffectiveness is a relative measure. In order to assess cost-effectiveness, at least two action alternatives need to be evaluated).

____Were alternatives developed that could achieve the same environmental benefit as the selected plan at lower cost? If a more expensive alternative was chosen, will it result in a proportionate environmental benefit?

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Costs/Cost Lists ____Are program cost lists current? Are costs on cost lists reasonably adequate to cover most jobs in the service area?

____Are there conservation practices not currently on program cost lists or not in the Maine FOTG that could better address economic or social concerns? If so, please list them.

____Are there changes to current ranking procedures or to practice standards that could help address economic or social considerations in the service area? If so, please describe them.

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