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Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program

About CBFish.org

Cbfish.org is an interactive website that provides the public an unprecedented view into Bonneville Power Administration’s implementation of the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program, which stretches across a four-state region and is the largest program of its kind in the world. Developed by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council pursuant to the Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act of 1980, the Program consists of measures for the purpose of protecting, mitigating, and enhancing fish and wildlife, including related spawning grounds and habitat, on the Columbia River and its tributaries.

Cbfish.org is also a web application that enables BPA and its regional partners to manage the program's activities and accomplishments, and to define, evaluate, fund, and review portfolios of projects.

It is the first federal website to open such a wide window on fish and wildlife programs and delivers on the Obama administration's goal of
expanding online access to agency activities. It also supports the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's efforts to improve the
transparency of fish and wildlife project information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Q: What is the goal of Cbfish.org?
A: To transparently and consistently manage project and portfolio decisions in support of the Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife Program’s objectives and obligations.
Q: What does the Cbfish.org site and software do?
A: Cbfish.org makes it simple for anyone with computer access to map habitat and other projects across states or watersheds and compile costs and results into easy-to-read charts. Users can zero in on specifics of any of the thousands of fish and wildlife projects funded by BPA and its ratepayers, from wetland restoration in the Columbia River estuary to screening of irrigation diversions in Idaho.
Before Cbfish.org was developed, there was no central hub around which all parties in the region could learn about the program. Now users can easily pull up information ranging from the high level allocation of the program's $250+ million annual budget to detailed independent scientific panel assessments of individual projects. As the system of record for project information, it tracks and manages a wealth of details including project reports, documentation, and exactly how projects support the Biological Opinions issued by regulatory agencies like NOAA and USFWS.
Q: What is the Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife Program?
A: The Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program is developed by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and implemented by BPA and its partners consistent with their responsibilities in the Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act of 1980. The Program consists of measures which can be implemented by BPA and other Federal agencies to protect, mitigate, enhance, and recover fish and wildlife populations in the Columbia River Basin affected by the development and operation of hydroelectric projects on the Columbia River and its tributaries. Partnering with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (www.nwcouncil.org), Columbia Basin Tribes, as well as other Federal, State, and private organizations, the Program continues to grow and expand to serve the needs of the community and its many stakeholders.
Q: What is Taurus?
A: Taurus is the codename for a multi-year project to build and manage the cbfish.org system. The Taurus project grew out of a prior process improvement project, codenamed Pisces, that involved building a software system for managing the daily operations (contracting, status reporting, etc.) of BPA's Fish and Wildlife program. This project began in 2010 and is ongoing. See also Gemini.
Q: What is Gemini?
A: Gemini is the codename for another multi-year project to bring the Pisces desktop application to the web. This project began in 2015.
Q: Who created Cbfish.org?
A: Bonneville Power Administration created it in concert with Sitka Technology Group, an Oregon company that builds and manages award-winning custom software for sustainability-focused businesses, government agencies, and non-for-profit organizations. Cbfish.org is a work in progress – its capabilities will continue to expand and evolve with input and requirements from the Fish & Wildlife program's stakeholders and the general public.
Q: What makes Cbfish.org different from other tracking software?
A: In short, for the first time ever, it allows the entire region to see what we're doing for fish and wildlife, and track how effectively we're doing it.
Cbfish.org is an information-rich system and a great example of a Government 2.0 type of application that enables a deeper level of transparency and a broader degree of collaboration than traditional outreach and public information efforts. The same information available to those executing the program is available to parties interested in reviewing or researching the program. Decisions made by the program managers are immediately and clearly visible to the stakeholders most effected by the outcome. More specifically, people using the system can "tag" projects and build their own portfolios of projects based on a wide range of attributes such as those projects operating in a specific region that are aimed at benefiting a specific threatened fish species. The site also offers a range of interactive maps and charts. For example, one interactive map provides insight into the program's annual habitat accomplishments by region; another interactive graphic allows users to drill into the program's funds to see how they are allocated each year and their trending over time.
Q: What is the difference between Cbfish.org (Taurus) and Pisces?
A: Cbfish.org focuses on the overall Program down to individual projects (e.g. project budgets). Pisces focuses on Contracts down to Work Elements and Metrics. What Pisces is for Contracts and Status Reports, Cbfish.org is for the Program, its Funds, Reviews, and Portfolios of Projects. That said, the two systems are very integrated - a lot of data flows between them. Here's a picture to help illustrate how information flows between Cbfish.org and Pisces.
Q: Who manages the site/software?
A: The site is managed by BPA and Sitka Technology Group. BPA provides the oversight and high level requirements and then works closely with Sitka to analyze and refine the requirements. Sitka manages the design, development, and deployment of the software as well as hosting and operations.
Q: With so many players and partners involved, who funds this software project?
A: This project is funded by BPA to be used throughout the region by stakeholders that include the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (www.nwcouncil.org), Columbia Basin Tribes, Federal (NOAA, USFWS and other agencies), Columbia Basin States (Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana), and private organizations involved in the Integrated Fish & Wildlife Program.
Q: Any early measurable results from using this new tool?
A: BPA and key stakeholders are currently seeing measurable results in a couple of areas. First, cbfish.org provides the information they need to more effectively manage the program, enabling improved fish and wildlife restoration results that can be measured by using the software's portfolio tools. For example, it captures and tracks relationships between projects and specific actions required by Biological Opinions issued by NOAA and USFWS. Previously these types of linkages to program obligations and objectives were tracked in people's memory or in a multitude of disparate spreadsheets and closed databases. Cbfish.org allows decision makers to factor these relationships and other critical project information when setting budgets and project scope parameters, which enables more efficient, data-driven decisions.
Second, it allows stakeholders to see what is happening in the program as it happens, which fosters improved cooperation, dialog, and partnering between the broad groups of organizations involved. This open collaboration tool allows program problems to be identified, evaluated and adjusted much more quickly than in a closed information system.
Though perhaps the most telling results are reflected in early feedback from people who have used cbfish.org:
"You are building a first class user friendly, project tracking, reporting and information sleuthing tool. Great work!"
— Tony Grover, Fish and Wildlife Director, Northwest Power and Conservation Council
"What's particularly impressive to me about your site is the way you have it linked to current data... I was amazed by how easily your site can generate both overviews and maps that have up-to-the-minute data."
— Eve Vogel, Political Geographer, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
"The region should feel real ownership in what we're doing for fish and wildlife, and this gives anyone the tools to see exactly what we're accomplishing at any level of detail. We're not just saying we're doing good things for fish, we're saying, 'Come and see for yourself what we've done.'"
— Greg Delwiche, Vice President Environment Fish & Wildlife, BPA
Q: What are the key innovations and features of Cbfish.org?
A: Key features built within cbfish.org include:
  • Portfolio Tool – Enables the dynamic grouping of projects, so that people can construct their own custom portfolios for independent analysis and reporting.
  • Search Tool – Allows people to search by different project attributes. Some examples are:
    • Benefitted species
    • Project location
    • Budget decisions and funding sources
    • Project purpose and emphasis
    • Custom project "tags"
    • Project performance indices
  • Map Tools – Allows for review of progress based on geographic maps showing both project areas as well as individual sites where work is happening on the ground.
  • Fund Management Tools – Provides a transparent view into how the program’s budget is allocated.
  • Budget Decision Tools – Allows financial analysts to ask and answer “what if” questions by building and comparing budget decisions before making decisions.
  • Data Download - Enables independent analysis and ad hoc report building.
  • Transparency Tools - Helps partner organizations such as the Biological Opinion Reporting team and the Columbia Basin Fish Accord teams track progress towards their obligations.
Q: How is it being developed in order to serve the needs of multiple audiences?
A: The system is being actively enhanced and expanded daily to serve its various users. Sitka began delivering management features early in the project, and continues to deliver new features and functions every month in support of the application's goals.
Consistent collaboration between stakeholders and Sitka in this iterative design-develop-test-deploy cycle ensures everyone can readily use the system to help them do their jobs, and provide essential feedback. It also provides the project team the flexibility to adapt to evolving requirements and stay focused on the most business-critical aspects of the system and gives stakeholders the ability to regularly course correct.
Q: What is the next phase or iteration of Cbfish.org?
A: Sitka updates the system based on feedback every two weeks. Upcoming releases will include the following features:
  • more map-based views and tools
  • interactive data displays
  • a quick and efficient way for program participants to request budget or scope adjustments to their projects
  • display of project photos showing the progress of work on the ground
  • tools for side-by-side comparison of portfolios and budget decisions
  • support for submitting proposals for new projects
  • various web services for sharing system data with other systems
Q: How far back in time does the data in the system go?
A: The system tracks all projects since the beginning of the program in 1980, and has budget decisions for these projects back to 2004. While the current focus is on supporting current program processes and new functions, the goal is to eventually import the older budget information as well.
Q: How do you ensure quality of the data in the system?
A: When possible, we have implemented automated data quality checks such as making sure each project has an identified "Purpose" or validating pending budget transfers against budget rules. The system also guides the user through verification and validation steps such as the one that summarizes the impacts of a budget decision before actually allowing the user to finalize the decision to help catch data entry errors.
Given that cbfish.org contains data provided by BPA project managers, program partners, and contractors implementing the program's projects, it is possible that periodically some information in the system needs correction; for example, the location of a specific work site or the quantitative accomplishments of a specific work action. Since cbfish.org serves as the central hub for the Fish & Wildlife program, it also pulls data from other systems and databases.
This is the first time much of this data has been available in one place to program participants and the general public, and therefore we look forward to hearing about and rapidly fixing data quality issues. One of the great benefits of transparency is the community vetting process and feedback loop it creates.

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