Best Practices for Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Management
July 2001 (Updated January 2002)
FAA EIS Project Management
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a Federal responsibility and document. Therefore, the primary responsibility for the management of an EIS for airport development rests with FAA. The FAA's EIS project manager is normally an Airports Program Environmental Specialist in a regional Airports Division or an Airports District Office.
- A highly skilled FAA EIS project manager is the greatest asset for a successful EIS. It is important for FAA to have a cadre of highly qualified and trained project managers assigned to EISs. The FAA project manager should have a basic understanding of airport planning and development, in addition to a sophisticated level of working knowledge of the laws and requirements governing the preparation of an EIS. It is equally important for a project manager to have management and organizational skills in order to plan, organize, and schedule the various work components that make up an EIS. Good "people skills" and teamwork are also necessary, especially during periods of high stress and tight deadlines.
- It is part of a project manager's job to determine an EIS's resource needs and to request additional resources in a timely manner. Resources include clerical as well as professional staff support, costs related to travel for an EIS team, and other associated costs of EIS development and processing. The effectiveness of EIS teams is enhanced when optimal resources are provided.
- The FAA project manager should be directly involved in developing the EIS scope of work and in the consultant selection process, including consultant selection criteria.
- It is important to establish critical milestones for the completion of EIS tasks and to maintain as tight a schedule as possible. Schedules should be realistic and commensurate with the level of complexity of the EIS, including whether the EIS will be a combined Federal/State document (which adds complexity and time). Schedules are subject to factors beyond FAA's control-sometimes several times over the course of an EIS. Flexibility must be used to adjust schedules, both to loosen schedules when needed and to tighten up schedules on remaining tasks to make up earlier schedule slippages to the extent possible.
- The FAA project manager is responsible for ensuring that all applicable tasks are completed in accordance with Federal requirements and in the order necessary to complete an EIS and Record Of Decision (ROD). This includes assuring timely coordination, technical completion, and good teamwork and communication. To successfully carry out these tasks, the FAA project manager needs the cooperative effort and support of the airport proprietor's and EIS consultant's project managers.
- A key part of the FAA project manager's responsibility is EIS quality control. If quality control is unacceptably short-changed, there will be delays when analyses and documentation do not pass muster in program or legal reviews.
- The best measure of successful EIS management is that the environmental process does not produce conceptual, methodological, or informational "surprises" towards the end. The FAA project manager, supported by others assigned to the EIS, needs to looks ahead, identify issues and problems as early as possible, and initiate appropriate and timely additional analysis, consultation, or other efforts that will lead to successful resolution and completion of the environmental process.