The Greene Economics team examined recent trends in cost increases for salmon recovery projects in Puget Sound, with a focus on those funded by the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) program. The review, initiated by the Puget Sound Partnership (Partnership), was intended to help the program plan for rises in restoration expenses that are inevitable, and determine ways to mitigate cost overruns where possible. The Greene Economics team analyzed salmon recovery funding data from the PRISM database and interviewed stakeholders and experts to support the findings.
The Greene Economics team learned that the top reasons for additional funding requests given by salmon recovery projects in the Puget Sound region were unforeseen construction cost increases, followed by project scope changes, followed by engineering cost increases.
In addition, Greene Economics analyzed the degree to which national inflation plays a role, and also learned how restoration costs vary from county to county in the Puget Sound region. Stakeholders interviewed identified how incentives in the competitive program application process can influence cost estimates. The review also highlighted several ways that the program might control for cost overruns in the future including exploring contingency adjustments, controlling for heterogeneity across counties, and potentially streamlining program application and reporting processes. The results of the review were presented to the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council.