This week’s trip sent me to Indianapolis, IN. Well, about 9 miles from the city center, so not really Indianapolis, but close, just the same. Apparently, the IDEM had some re-organization done and the watershed folks/Nonpoint Source Pollution folks are located out on Shadeland Ave.
Shadeland Ave should not be confused with Shadeland, Indiana, a town about 1.5 hours from Indy that is near Purdue. I made this mistake originally and was left cramming in some last minute travel arrangements about an hour before I left DC.
So, the purpose of my visit to IDEM, you ask? To meet the staff, listen to to their thoughts and experiences on the 319 program, GRTS, and finally, assist the Region 5 Grants manager in a 604(b) ARRA onsite review. For those of you new to the “environmental-speak,” click here for some quick definitions.
The site review basically consists of speaking with each of the project officers about the work that is being done, how far along the projects are, any obstacles or challenges they are facing, how much communication they are having with the pass through organizations, and any other questions we may think of to ask. In addition, we collect all of the grant files and go through them with a fine-tooth comb to look for inconsistencies and data gaps, indications that work is being done as planned, to see if money is being used legally, and to determine if work is properly recorded and the files are complete.
I think a lot of states probably see us as the ‘bad guys’, but really, we are the good guys. It is our job to go through these reviews and to help out and act as buffers prior to any possible audits. The audits are when you want to be spick and span- 100% organized and precise. Anyway, we go through the files, interview the folks, and then pull together and exit review/findings. We’ve been meeting with IDEM since Tuesday and plan to wrap-up on Friday morning at some point. The work is interested and the people are friendly.