Environmental Monitoring

Environmental Monitoring

Establishing resource requirements for a monitoring program is likely to be an iterative process. During program design a number of factors need to be considered, such as: scope (including the number of sites, geographic area, range of parameters); intensity (number of samples taken); and duration of the monitoring program. Each of these factors can influence the cost of the program. Typically cost estimates consider:

  • Purchase of equipment
  • Establishing X number of sites
  • Sampling of X number of sites
  • Laboratory analysis of samples
  • Interpretation and reporting of results
  • Human resources, including staff training
  • Project Management

A true accounting of staff costs should consider what other things they would not do if the program goes ahead; i.e. what "opportunity cost" is involved in doing one thing rather than the other.

Whether determining or seeking funds or working within a fixed budget, some estimating and revisiting will be necessary to ensure a package that accommodates Council's, and possibly the community's or a fund provider's, aspirations and expectations. With monitoirng it is important that sufficient resources are obtained to answer the questions with a sufficient degree of scientific rigour. Given this, it is still acknowledged that the program will need to be tailored according to available funds. Hence, there will be times when not all desired analyses can be undertaken.

Once the resources needed to undertake a program have been determined, there is the task of securing and using those resources. Are they all available within council and able to be used for your project? Do you require external assistance in the form of laboratories or consultants?

If the program requires that external resources be used, then a brief may have to be prepared. Most briefs contain standard information on legal/contractual issues such timing of payments, intellectual property, and conditions for termination. Typical standard contracts for engaging consultants are provided in Australian Standards AS 4121-1994 and AS 4122-2000. Whilst these standard conditions are important, the most critical part of the brief will be the specification of the contract work required. A clearly thought out and well articulated brief is required. Sample project briefs are provided.

Most, if not all, councils will have rules governing the engagement of external service providers, such as the number of quotes needed to obtain contracts within certain price ranges. In selecting a service provider, consideration should be given to factors including the service provider's:

  • Price
  • Experience
  • Personnel
  • Methodology
  • Appreciation of the brief
  • Reputation (contact referees if necessary)

It is common practice to score each tender by using the criteria above and allocating a percentage which refects the importance of the particular criterion to the contracting agency. Typically laboratory contracts will require that providers be NATA accredited.


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