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Multiagency support for Triad
Triad is a Federal/State Interagency Partnership

Multi-Disciplinary Technical Teams

Multi-disciplinary technical teams are essential to systematic planning and the successful implementation of Triad-based field activities.

The Triad places heavy emphasis on systematic planning for sites to address decision-making needs, including the development of conceptual site models, the definition of dynamic work strategies, and the selection of appropriate real-time measurement systems along with their associated QA/QC requirements. Systematic planning is an iterative process that continues throughout the life cycle of a project. The Triad also emphasizes real-time decision-making as part of dynamic work strategies. A multi-disciplinary technical team is essential to both the systematic planning process and the implementation of Triad-based field activities.

Depending on site-specific needs, a variety of disciplinary skills may potentially be required through the course of a Triad-based approach. These include geology, hydrogeology, geochemistry, analytical chemistry, toxicology, risk assessment, statistics, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), information management, soil and/or sediment science, project management, environmental safety and health, engineering, biology/ecology, meteorology, regulatory expertise, contracting, and public participation/communication expertise. The exact make-up of technical and project teams can be expected to change over the life of a project. For example, regulatory expertise may be critical at the outset, but become less important once key initial decisions are made.

Traditional approaches to hazardous waste site characterization, remediation, and closure also make use of multi-disciplinary teams for project support. From a project management perspective, the Triad imposes different staffing requirements that need to be recognized and addressed for Triad projects to be successful. These include:

  • CSM Development. A sufficient CSM is fundamental to Triad success. It is extremely important that the right combination of technical expertise be available to support the site-specific needs of CSM development and interpretation. Outside resources and technical experts should be identified and consulted early in the systematic planning process as necessary, and then consulted periodically as a need arises. Obtaining and maintaining a consistent technical team and involving key experts will help project managers avoid delays and costs caused by a technical approach derived from a flawed CSM.

  • Analytical Chemistry Support. The Triad requires a level of analytical chemistry expertise and input that is commonly not found in more traditional approaches. This expertise is required to select the correct mix of analytical techniques, to support modifications to existing standard operating procedures that may be necessary to meet site-specific needs, to develop appropriate QA/QC protocols for proposed methods, to gain regulatory acceptance, and to interpret analytical data as it is being produced.

  • GIS/Data Management Support. GIS and data management support are also critical to the successful implementation of a Triad dynamic work strategy. Triad data collection programs can generate significant volumes of data in relatively brief time periods. The acquisition, management, presentation, analysis, and dissemination of these data are time critical activities for real-time decision support. This requires a level of GIS and data management support during field activities that is not necessary for traditional sampling programs.

  • Field Decision Support. The Triad expects real-time decisions will be made in response to real-time data as part of a dynamic work strategy. One of the key benefits the Triad offers to program managers is its ability to guide or adapt project activities in response to conditions encountered in the field, keeping data collection activities/remedial actions/monitoring as focused and efficient as possible. To some degree, the decision-making process can be captured in contingencies and "if-then" planning prior to the initiation of field work. However, surprises are invariably encountered in the field, and resolution of those surprises will likely require access to technical skills (e.g., analytical chemistry, statistics, hydrogeology, etc.) while work is underway. Whether these skills are actually fielded on-site or accessed remotely is a logistical issue.

  • Contracting Support. Implementing Triad-based field activities usually introduces contracting issues that are different from traditional programs. Various contracting strategies are discussed in the section entitled Cost Estimation and Procurement. The important point from a project staffing perspective is the need to involve contracting and procurement specialists early in the process so that organization-specific contracting mechanisms and constraints are clearly understood, along with their implications for how Triad-based field activities should be planned and organized.

There are a variety of different organizational frameworks within which hazardous waste site characterization and cleanup work is conducted. Activities may be regulator-led (e.g., EPA or state equivalent) or responsible party-led (e.g., voluntary cleanup programs, DOE, and DoD cleanups, etc.). In one instance a single entity may handle all technical planning, contracting, and implementation requirements, while in another case these responsibilities may be spread among multiple contractors or subcontracted out with varying levels of oversight and involvement by the bill-paying organization. Whatever the case, a Triad-approach assumes a base level of technical staffing continuity among participating organizations as work progresses from systematic planning on through the development and implementation of dynamic work strategies. A Triad approach will not perform well when project management is built on a series of discrete steps, with products or plans "tossed over the fence" to the next subcontractor in a chain of project activities.

One of the implications is that it may be necessary to bring contractors or subcontractors on-board as part of the systematic planning process prior to the inception of field activities, so that key logistical issues and/or technical constraints can be identified early on in the planning process, and captured in the dynamic work strategy. This is particularly true for real-time technology providers and for fixed laboratories when there is the expectation that traditional methods may require significant modification for site-specific needs.

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