Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Cultural Resource Consultant

Skip Navigation LinksHome / Historic Preservation Office / Environmental Review / Cultural Resource Consultant

How to Choose a Cultural Resource Consultant

Once it has been determined that a project will need a cultural resource investigation, the selection of a consultant to carry out the study becomes a concern. We propose the following guidelines to help in the selection process. These guidelines have been adapted from National RegisterBulletin No.24 prepared by the National Park Service.

Consultants are listed in the Yellow Pages under Archeology, Environmental Services, and related fields, local planning boards may also have a record of firms that have previously done work in an area.

  • Ensure that the consultant is 36CFR61 qualified.
  • Define the nature of the work carefully in order to have a clear idea of what kind of consultant is needed. If there are not standing structures in the project, an architectural historian is not needed. However, if there are a number of old buildings it would be useful to hire a consultant that has architectural history capabilities or to hire a second consultant to cover that specialty.
  • Send a scope of work to, or request one from, several qualified consultants and request a written proposal.
  • Consider the general qualifications of those who submit proposals. References should be required and investigated carefully.
  • Evaluate the written proposals provided. Ascertain how well each consultant appears to understand the reason for and nature of the work necessary and evaluate the methods and approach that each intends to use. OPRHP can provide assistance in evaluating proposals to determine if a scope of work is appropriate. We recommend using the Standards for Cultural Resource Investigations and the Curation of Archaeological Collections in New York State adopted by this office for cultural resource reports as a guide for evaluating proposals.
  • Interview possible consultants that appear best qualified. Evaluate:
    • Experience and reputation. Consult OPRHP or other relevant organizations to determine how to evaluate survey experience. Ask them to identify examples of previous similar projects they have completed.
    • Workload. Try to determine whether the consultant will be able to accomplish the project within the established time frame. A consultant's reputation for meeting deadlines is a good indication of this.
    • Access to all fields of expertise needed to meet the requirements of the project. Whether a consultant has such expertise personally, on staff or through cooperative arrangements with others, it is important to ensure that the consultant understands what expertise will be needed and can mobilize that expertise when needed.
    • Ability to work with the public. Surveys are often visible to the public and attract local attention. In addition, identifying local history often requires interaction with resident populations. Therefore it is vital that a consultant have the ability to interact well with the community.
  • Contact your choice of consultant and agree on responsibilities and fees.
  • Avoid possible conflict of interest situations. Consultants may offer to provide services at a low rate in anticipation of securing future contracts for other projects or additional phases of the current project. If a long term cooperative relationship between consultant and client is in the best interest of both it should be explicitly negotiated as such.

Selection of a consultant simply on the basis of a bid is not recommended. A cultural resource investigation is a complicated professional activity that requires the exercise of careful, subjective judgement. Simply obtaining the most inexpensive services, without full consideration of the quality of work offered, may result in poor work, wasted time and money, and possible rejection. For consultants who can provide the necessary services within the established budget range, competition should be on the basis of professional competence, experience and quality proposal.