Congress, and the states; Corps internal organizational structures and arrangements; post-construction monitoring of projects; and changes in planning guidance. A review of federal and Corps planning guidelines identified several procedures that might be revised to better accommodate social and ecologically sustainable considerations. Among the problems identified in some of these reports was that the Corps is hampered by sometimes conflicting legislation, a lack of clear policy directives, and the lack of a central body to coordinate its mission and programs with other federal agencies with water management responsibilities. A broad observation was that the development and execution of Corps planning methods are closely entwined with broader, federal-level organization policy structures and processes that frame and guide those methods, and that improvements in planning methods should thus be linked with appropriate changes in larger, policy-relevant structures.
Other overarching themes identified by one or more of the study panels included:
A need for an increased emphasis on and resources for post-construction evaluations, or ex post studies, at Corps projects. This increased emphasis will require support from the administration and the Congress;
The value of more thorough analyses during the early stages of Corps planning studies (the so-called “reconnaissance phase”). Recommendations on this topic included the need for more resources for reconnaissance studies, the need to more actively include stakeholders during study reconnaissance, the prospects for independent review in a planning study’s early stages, and the possibility of eliminating the current distinction between initial reconnaissance and subsequent “feasibility” studies;
The need to carefully consider the implications of study “cost sharing” (the contribution of a local sponsor to a Corps civil works project). All panels discussed cost sharing for Corps studies, and generally noted that increased cost sharing requirements resulted in a complex mix of positive and negative outcomes. Further investigations into and advice on this topic were beyond the scope and resources of the study panels, but it was generally felt that Congress and the Corps should carefully investigate cost sharing’s implications.
A need for a greater degree of centralization and streamlining of Corps planning programs and studies. The Corps is a highly decentralized organization, with dozens of district-level offices spread across the