Allocating funds under the National Fish Habitat Action Plan




Each year, the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), with advice from a Fisheries Management Team, allocates funding to support the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. The Service distributes the funds to Fish Habitat Partnerships (FHPs), who, in turn, undertake projects that “protect, restore, or enhance fish and aquatic habitats or otherwise directly support habitat-related priorities of Fish Habitat Partnerships.” Initially, this allocation was made based on a simple formula: larger FHPs received twice the allocation of smaller FHPs. But as the number of partnerships grew, and as funding grew at a slower rate, inequities developed among the FHPs. In 2012, the Service convened a structured decision making process to develop a more equitable, transparent, and strategic formula for annual funding allocation. The initial decision analysis, which focused on strategic aspects of the allocation, is described in this chapter. Deliberate consideration of decision analysis concepts brought about two advances: a focus on the fundamental long-term objective of maximizing the sustainability of aquatic species populations; and recognition that the benefits of the relatively small investment by the Service occur through leveraging contributions from management partners and increasing the efficiency of on-the-ground projects. Four allocation strategies were evaluated, using formal expert judgment methods, against an array of ecological and administrative objectives. The resulting consequence table was presented to Service managers to illustrate the considerations that underlie an allocation strategy. The insights of this initial decision analysis led to further internal discussions within the Service, and development of a fully articulated allocation method. In December 2013, the Director of the Service approved this new, competitive, performance-based method for allocating funds to FHPs, and it has been used since then to guide decision making. This case study illustrates the power of problem framing, the importance of articulating fundamental objectives, and the value of making transparent the hidden predictions at the heart of any decision.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Allocating funds under the National Fish Habitat Action Plan
Chapter 3
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Johns Hopkins University Press
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 13 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Structured decision making: Case studies in natural resource management
First page 23
Last page 35
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table