Posted by: wadahp | February 2, 2011

DAHP TO CHANGE POLICY ON CONSULTANT LISTS

DAHP wishes to announce that we will no longer be hosting lists of professional consultants on our website.    Recently DAHP has received  complaints from constituents regarding disputes with listed consultants under the presumption that the state had in some way endorsed or certified that consultant. The lists will be removed from our website effective immediately.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

The consultants list was posted as a courtesy to the public. Nothing in state or federal law requires that we post the list.  The concern was that the list was misinterpreted by the public as being an endorsement by the agency even though we have always included a disclaimer statement. The reality is that we do not control client/consultant relationships nor the quality of the consultant’s work while its being conducted. Also, this has become a major workload issue for DAHP staff. We have to check every consultant’s credentials to ensure they meet professional standards. We are a small agency with 10,000 reviews a year and we are facing severe budget cuts. We no longer have the time to monitor this list. Between the two issues, we can no longer provide lists as a courtesy workload.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Will the DAHP retain an internal list (not publicly accessible) in order to know who to send RFPs to or that kind of thing? i feel like this is a big blow for us consultants… a lot of less resourceful people may not know where / how to find consultants without this list? i know that my city got rid of their local list, and were referencing the DAHP list… so now there is NO list to reference people in my area. Seems as though a disclaimer on the list would be sufficient… but I guess things don’t always work as they seem…

  2. I understand the issue of liability. When asked for knowledgeable people to perform professional historic preservation related projects I have always carefully and repeatedly (almost to a comic extent) told people that I cannot recommend anyone but know of people who perform that type of work and that they should check references before hiring anyone.

    I echo the concern that people in need of preservation related services will not know how to find consultants in such a specialized line of work and will default to larger architecture and engineering firms. This will have a devastating impact on those of us who perform small preservation projects.

  3. I agree with “A.D.” that CLGs, etc. will need some sort of list for sending out RFPs to get a good spread of contractors. Otherwise, they may pick a few off a Google search and call it a day. The Oregon SHPO, CLGs and non-profits within Oregon have a disclaimer on their contractor lists.

  4. People, For crying out loud, post a disclaimer if you’re paranoid. But don’t pull the rug out from under consultants. How will anyone find us? You do a disservice both to consultants and potential clients and, thereby, a disservice to the cause of historic preservation.

  5. PLEASE CONTINUE THE CONSULTANT LIST! May I suggest that you follow Oregon State as a successful, tried-and-true example and post a liability disclaimer at the beginning/end of the consulant list, thereby FURTHERING THE CAUSE OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION!

  6. The consultants list was posted as a courtesy to the public. Nothing in state or federal law requires that we post the list. There was a disclaimer in there. However, the concern was that the list was misinterpreted by the public as being an endorsement by the agency. The reality is that we do not control client/consultant relationships nor the quality of the consultant’s work while its being conducted. Also, this has become a major workload. We have to check every consultant’s credentials to ensure they meet professional standards. We are a small agency with 10,000 reviews a year and we are facing severe budget cuts. We no longer have the time to monitor this list. Between the two issues, we can no longer provide lists as a courtesy workload.

  7. How will DAHP know that consultants meet the SOI guidelines if you no longer check credentials?

  8. Won’t DAHP have to check credentials anyway to ensure the SOI standards are met for the authors? My firm has been on the list for years–that is just one review and as long as there are no issues or changes, there is no further need to update that entry. With this new proposal, it seems this will actually increase the workload since DAHP would need to check each individual report instead of referring to the list of contractors that meet the standards. I suspect there will be a lot more (uneducated) unhappy constituents who end up working with someone who doesn’t meet the standards and then have their report tossed back to them.

  9. We plan to put up guidelines for the public on stating the federal and state standards and giving them guidance for ensuring a consultant meets those standards. Yes, if a new consultant submits a report as a PI we would still have to check their credentials. But we no longer have the staff time to maintain lists and even with a disclaimer, the public was misinterpreting the list as an endorsement of consultants. I believe the WA Trust is going to consider hosting a list for historic preservation consultants. Perhaps AWA can do the same for archaeologists. The state can no longer continue this function.

  10. So, DAHP has regulations that effectively require people to seek the services of a very small and difficult to find cadre of third-party vendors (i.e., cultural resource consultants/archaeologists of which there were, at last count, only about 70 in WA), but is unable to maintain an already existing list, because it is too burdensome to check the credentials of the archaeologists (even though DAHP nevertheless has to check the credentials of these very same archaeologists when they submit reports), and because the tiny segment of the public that uses cultural resource consultants might be “confused” about whether such a list constitutes an endorsement? Even the DMV publishes a list of tab and licensing offices (the majority of which are privately run) and does so with nary a disclaimer.

  11. I guess it is not too surprising that the SOI standards are proving to be inadequate when it comes to insuring that any given contractor is competent, as they rely almost entirely on educational achievements and ignore the years of field work that are required to gain any degree of competence in the field. Once again DHAP is treating a symptom and not looking for a cure!

  12. Discontinuing it may mean more work for DAHP in the long run. As the regulatory agency isn’t it DAHPs job to facilitate compliance with historic preservation legislation? If the public is not provided with some kind of list of consultants that do meet Washington state standards, then it may be more likely for developers to opt for a companies that do not meet the standards.

  13. The Canadian legislation differs considerably but concerned WA archaeoloigsts might be interested to know about the BC situation:

    This (discontinuation of lists of conslutants) happened in British Columbia ca. 20 years ago and was a catalyst leading to formation of the BC Assoc of Professional Consulting Archaeologists (BCAPCA) which recently attempted (unsuccessfully) to broaden its membership by dropping “Consulting” from its name and membership eligibility requirements. At first (pre-internet) they hired someone (not a consultant, no conflicts of interest) to maintain a list of consultants– who had to be members to be on the list. Now, it’s on their website (with a disclaimer). Many of the archaeological consultants in BC belong to the BCAPA — but not all. It is not required. Those who mainly work at/via universities & museums do not; those who have their own contacts with clients do not; those who had issues with the organizational structure of BCAPA hovered on the sidelines and mainly do their own thing.
    However, I do not know that the BCAPA is a viable model for WA: Because (in addition to the work of maintaining yet another organization) — in BC, every archaeologists who does fieldwork (survey, assessments, mointoring, excavations, data recovery– whatever) has to obtain a permit from the BC Archaeology Branch (equivalent to SHPO), a separate permit for each project, and the permit applicaation requires a proposal (=research or treatment plan) and demonstration that the applicant meets minimum qualifications. (Thus, if a client retains an unqualified person, a permit would not be forthcoming and the fieldwork could not proceed). The permit process applies only to land in provincial jurisdiction– which inlcudes all private property as well as provincially owned/managed land– and which and is most of the province. The permit process means that the BC gvmt archaeologists rule on whether the archaeologist is qualified (and whether their proposed work is appropriate) and subsequently review the report before approving land alteration by xxx. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

  14. […] this list. Between the two issues, we can no longer provide lists as a courtesy workload.” (Washington State Dept. of Archaeology and Historic Preservation) (February […]

  15. I echo comments that have already been posted. It is an additional hardship for consultants such as myself to have DAHP drop this list. I am on lists maintained by the states of Oregon, California, Alaska, Nevada, Montana and Idaho. Local agencies use the lists and refer private property owners to the lists for consultants who meet the basic standards required by the SOI. I again echo others’ comments when I say that it seems to me that DAHP would only have to check those consultants once, not every year. It doesn’t seem onerous, although I understand the potential liability for those who cannot read a caveat that says that the state does not endorse the consultants on the list.

    It also seems to me that the state may incurr more . . . rather than less . . . work by having more reports submitted by consultants that the property owners have found on the internet or in the phone book. This requires more oversight by DAHP staff who are charged with ensuring that the work meets SOI, etc., standards.

    I am a small business owner. The alternative to appearing on a centralized list is that I send out qualifications to every CLG in the state, which means that those agencies that are not CLGs would still not know about my services and private property owners and non-profits would also not be aware of them. This is an additonal cost to me, and still means that I would likely get less work than if I was on a list. I hire contractors and sub-consultants, and provide paid internships. Less work for me means that I also provide less work for others. Like every choice, it has financial repurcussions. I hope that the state is able to find a reasonable alternative.

    BTW, the State of California instituted a practise two years ago by which they charge $150 an office (posting) to consultants to carry their name on a list that does not even list the services that the consultant provides. To me this is not a credible option one, because it implies that the consultants are listed because they pay the fee, not because they meet the standards and two, because the list does not list the services the consultant provides.

  16. In addition to echoing the concerns outlined in comments above, I would like to point out that the consultant list has served as an important resource for students and recent graduates entering the field of archaeology. When I was at this point career-wise I – and many of my peers – used the state list to figure out who to approach at conferences about employment and where to sent resumes and cover letters. I have been directing students to the DAHP website as a great resource for more information on WA archaeology laws and practice, and specifically to the consultant list as a place to start their job hunt. I realize that student and new archaeologist employment opportunities may not be a concern of the state office, but it is something to keep in mind in terms of the future of the consultant list.

  17. That DAHP no longer offers a list of archaeological consultants on the website is
    very detrimental to small crm firms and private consultants. My small firm does not
    have the advertising budgets that some of the larger firms do, which puts
    us at a severe disadvantage. Isn’t there something we can do to
    demonstrate our competence and integrity? I have developed a very satisfied clientele from the list and it has been an excellent resource for finding good archaeologists.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: