On May 10, 2001, the Bonneville Power Administration (Bonneville) opened a "2001 Action Plan" solicitation to the region to identify immediate actions that will address impacts to ESA listed anadromous species and to unlisted fish directly affected by the declaration of a power emergency. In addition, BPA provided that the unfunded proposals in the ISRP's High Priority Review "B List", at the project sponsors request, be considered for possible funding under this solicitation. On May 24, Bonneville received 38 new proposals, and 12 "B List" proposals were resubmitted. Expedited review was requested in order to provide funding rapidly to worthy projects that could offset effects of the power emergency.
From June 11 to 21, the Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP), with the assistance of two Peer Review Group members, reviewed and ranked the set of proposals. The review process differed from the standard ISRP Provincial Review Process in several ways. Subbasin summaries were not provided, the ISRP did not conduct a site visit, project sponsors did not make oral presentations, and a response loop was not included. Consequently, the proposal review was not as interactive or rigorous as the provincial reviews. Moreover, the review did not benefit from the contextual information provided by a provincial review, making the fit of the proposals within a subbasin strategy less apparent. However, several of the proposals for this solicitation were also submitted in the currently ongoing Columbia Plateau Province review process or previously reviewed provinces and review of those proposals benefited from those site visits and project presentations.
In general, the quality of the proposals reviewed in the Action Plan solicitation fell below those in the 2001 provincial reviews. Many proposals were overly brief, lacked maps or descriptions identifying the location and context of the proposed work, failed to make linkages between planning documents (watershed analyses, subbasin summaries, etc.), and lacked specific descriptions of the target stocks and their current status. In addition, in this solicitation as well as the recent provincial reviews, there is a growing trend among proposals to provide good rationale sections, but to fail to provide adequate details on tasks and methods, which are the crux of a technical review.
These omissions, which frequently could have been addressed in a few sentences or a brief table, resulted in lower levels of support for those projects. Moreover, inclusion of such information would have provided a better basis to compare the expected benefits of the proposals.
The short timeframe associated with the Action Plan solicitation may have contributed to the lack of overall proposal quality. Based on the generally poor quality of proposals received in this solicitation, the ISRP recommends against further short-timeframe, special-circumstance solicitations. Such solicitations, if they occur too frequently and generate proposals of the low quality received in this solicitation, risk compromising the rigor and credibility of the Provincial Review Process.