divergent views among members of Congress—views which often transcend party lines—about both the quality of the Corps’ analytical methods and findings and the agency’s future roles. Some congressional representatives strongly support the Corps and its traditional programs and activities, while others call for fundamental changes to the agency. Some in Congress have promoted “Corps Reform” initiatives and have drafted multiple legislative reform proposals. Congress has passed none of these proposals, but one result of these congressional debates was the passage of Section 216 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000. That section requested that the National Academy of Sciences (“The National Academies”1) to review the Corps’ peer review procedures and methods of analysis (section 216 appears in Appendix A).

In response to that authorization, the Corps provided the resources for this study. In turn, The National Academies’ Water Science and Technology Board, in collaboration with its Ocean Studies Board, appointed four study panels and a coordinating committee to review various dimensions of Corps planning guidance and decision making (additional discussion of this activity can be found in this report’s Foreword and Preface, and Appendix C lists the coordinating committee and panel membership rosters). The chairs of the four panels served on the coordinating committee, and some coordinating committee members participated in various panel meetings. In addition, a plenary meeting of the coordinating committee and all four panels was held in Irvine, CA in November 2002. The coordinating committee thus prepared this report while also considering progress of the four study panels in its own deliberations (the coordinating committee’s statement of task is listed in Box 2-1).


The Corps of Engineers’ traditional primary activity has been to construct civil works projects that control and modify hydrologic and geomorphic processes in rivers and along coastal areas, and that maintain navigation channel depths. Corps flood control, navigation, and other projects have traditionally been expected to contribute to national and regional economic growth. The Corps has constructed, and in some


The National Academies consists of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council is the operating arm of The National Academies.

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