set of EPA or other guidelines might apply well to regulatory required monitoring, a different approach could be applied to monitoring designed for research or hypothesis testing. The QA/QC applied to experimental methods, documentation, etc. might be similar in both cases, but validation in the latter case could extend well beyond statistical accuracy and precision of experimental data. Ultimately, the inferences made from hypothesis-testing data will be evaluated by the scientific peer-review process. This suggests that the QAPP should include methods for both selecting entities to conduct research-based inquiries and evaluating the conclusions reached from these investigations. Even in cases in which routine monitoring data are used to impact management decisions, the quality of these decisions should be scrutinized by the appropriate component of the QAPP.
For example, the Restoration Plan needs to include an objective process for selecting, designing, implementing, and evaluating field experiments and modeling exercises. Consideration should be given to the process of selecting (or certifying) individuals or teams to engage in research projects (competitive solicitations might be one mechanism). There should also be a process for evaluating experimental results, i.e., peer review. Most important, the plan should address how these results will be used in the decision-making process.
The Restoration Plan’s adaptive management strategy cannot succeed without a well-designed and adequately supported data and information system. Given the complexity and duration of the Restoration Plan, desirable features of such a system include the following:
clear data and metadata policies and standards;
policies and procedures for data validation;
mechanisms to ensure Restoration Plan data integrity and security;
mechanisms for inter-organizational data and information sharing;
policies and procedures for public information access and outreach;
database software and database models to facilitate storage and retrieval;
tools to facilitate data analysis and learning through shared computing hardware and software resources; and
human and technological capacity to maintain a growing and increasingly complex store of data and information.
The Restoration Plan Project Management Plan for Data Management (USACE and SFWMD, 2002a) calls for a program-wide phased approach to management and acquisition of data, including activities to “identify, standardize, organize, document, serve and preserve program data.” This document is mainly concerned with identifying relevant standards for Restoration Plan data. Some federal data and metadata standards are identified for GIS, Computer Aided Design and Drafting, and survey data. The plan calls for an “enterprise Geographic Information System (GIS)” consisting of a central repository of spatial data gathered and used by multiple organizations based on agreed-upon standards. The plan also calls for establishment of a Data Clearinghouse, a Data Oversight Committee, and a program to bring existing data into the Restoration Plan’s common spatial framework. In summary, the plan partially addresses items 1-4 above. Technical and logistical details of data management (items 5-7) are to be addressed in the next phase of data management activities.