OLYMPIA — Puget Sound Partnership needs to create accountability tools to better measure progress toward restoring the impaired waterway, according to a new report. When the Legislature created the partnership, it called for an Action Agenda that would prioritize strategies for achieving measurable objectives, the report says. The law called for a deliberate management structure with “actions” linked to “milestones” linked to “long-term goals.”
After five years, the partnership still has not fully implemented the structure envisioned by the Legislature, states the report, which will be presented Wednesday to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee. The committee, which plays a key role in overseeing the partnership, consists of state senators and representatives.
The report criticizes the partnership for failing to prioritize ongoing local, state and federal programs, as called for in the law. The partnership has yet to complete a full inventory of such programs. “Lacking this inventory,” the report says, “the partnership recommended maintaining all effective ongoing programs but has not identified which ones are effective … The partnership will need information on the effectiveness of actions, not just whether actions were completed.”
Wright agreed with a finding in the report that stressed how monitoring is essential to assess the effectiveness of actions taken and to improve the effort over time. Unfortunately, he added, monitoring is often the first thing to be cut when funding agencies run short of money.
Since 2008, state and federal agencies have spent more than $230 million a year on Puget Sound restoration. Projects include restoration of numerous estuaries, including the extensive Nisqually and Skokomish deltas.
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