Florida ecosystem restoration are tied to its stewardship of federal resources and its consultation and concurrence responsibilities for the CERP described in the draft programmatic regulations (USAGE, 2002b). The CESI program must produce the best possible science that is responsive to DOI needs and external restoration planning deadlines and therefore demands appropriate involvement of all relevant DOI agencies in future program managment. DOI managers should carefully consider these concerns when weighing future administrative reorganizations. Any effort to remove the administration of the program from those with the most vested interests in the CESI program's results (resource managers and scientists in South Florida) is likely to create as many problems as it solves.
In summary, this review concluded that the CESI program has developed an efficient process for program management, but several changes are needed to improve the quality and effectiveness of the science that the CESI program supports. Two high-priority management improvements have been identified that can be made quickly and inexpensively. First, the CESI program should adhere to and substantially improve its standards for proposal review by establishing a wider distribution of requests for proposals, an independent proposal-review process, and funding criteria based on prior evidence of timely conduct of research and publication of the results. Second, the CESI program must broaden the involvement of expert advisors in the priority-setting and proposal-review processes by fully utilizing its program advisory committees and coordinating closely with the SCT and RECOVER. Additional CESI management changes are needed in order to develop an effective peer-review system for CESI research results, improve the accountability of funding allocated through interagency agreements, increase the public awareness of CESI contributions, and more effectively address DOI restoration science needs outside of Everglades National Park. As DOI refines its new interagency management plan for CESI funds, care should be taken to assure that the leadership involves strong scientific expertise and appropriate agency representation.