We continue to struggle with the "Legal and Other Requirements Puzzle." Recently we saw a Region 6 "Spreadsheet from Hell"(citation needed!) that will likely require a small army of book-keepers to keep up-to-date and coordinated with other parts of the EMS world. After reeling from that, we were led to Region 1's "Evaluation of Compliance [with applicable laws and other requirements] Procedure [FS Intranet link]" which appears, superficially, to simplify "legal and other" compliance almost down to "Do NEPA!" "Almost," however, soon evaporates when we see the associated Region 1 Spreadsheet from Hell [FS Intranet link]. We propose an alternative path.
Instead of trying to devise a process for "legal and other requirements" compliance from scratch, perhaps we ought to look to see what the Forest Service is already doing, and what the FS ought to soon begin as to EMS process improvement for: planning and NFMA, NEPA, ESA, … compliance.
A Forest Service "organizational approach" to EMS would have operational controls and process improvement requirements (including all EMS elements) for all functions that support work on the ground, including, planning and NFMA compliance, NEPA compliance, and so on. Developing such would relieve forests of the impossibilities of trying to account for legal compliance outside the structure of extant process requirements.
For example, we have a set of directives for Planning (FSM 1920 and FSH 1909.12). We also have specific policy directives outside the Manual/Handbook system for some legal and other requirements. All such could be controlled via EMS at a tier above forest operations. If it were we could then leave more-specific tweaking of law and policy to the local level while taking care of the bulk of legal authorities/responsibilities at levels above the forest.
Doing the EMS at levels above the forest may move us out of "Spreadsheet Hell." And it might help us explain why words from the 2005 NFMA Rule read: "…The scope of the EMS will include, at a minimum, the land management planning process…." [emphasis added] Whadayathink? Is there a better way? Are we on a right track with this proposal?