Best Practices for Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Management
July 2001 (Updated January 2002)
EIS Consultant Selection and Skills
The bulk of technical analyses for an EIS is done by consultants under a third-party contract arrangement in which FAA selects the consultant and guides the work, and the airport proprietor contracts with and pays the consultant. An efficient consultant selection process avoids delays in starting an EIS. The selection of a consultant that can devote the right combination of skills and resources to the job avoids delays throughout the EIS.
- Some State or local laws appear to prohibit selection of consultants by a third entity, in this case FAA. Airport proprietors and FAA have always favorably resolved apparent conflicts in law, but not without delays. An airport proprietor anticipating an EIS should review any legal issues in advance and begin early to resolve them in consultation with FAA.
- Important factors to consider in reviewing consultant proposals include:
- Designation of a knowledgeable and skilled project manager to head the consulting team for an EIS;
- The firm's experience with NEPA and other environmental laws and requirements as they are specifically applied to airport development projects;
- The presence of aviation and airport planning skills on the consultant's team;
- Appropriate environmental resource experts to cover the range of anticipated impacts;
- Participation of a technical editor to review, edit, and convert technical writing into plain English;
- Estimated work schedule and adequacy of resources to complete tasks on schedule;
- Documentation management to track internal review comments, coordination among commenters, and to assist in building the administrative record.
- Airport proprietors and FAA need to jointly provide to consulting firms as complete as possible a description of the scope of work, the desired consultant skills and tasks, and a target EIS schedule.
- Consultants may be able to expedite schedules if airport proprietors are willing to pay for extra consultant resources.
- As with FAA, the most single important consultant asset for an EIS is a good project manager. The consultant project manager has the primary responsibility for assuring that technical analyses and coordination are assigned to the appropriate consulting team members and are started on time, for tracking and maintaining working schedules, for quality control of technical analyses and documentation, and for identifying substantive and scheduling problems with the analyses and coordination and conferring with the FAA EIS project manager on corrective steps.