ently. The increasing complexities and interdisciplinary breadth in Corps planning studies, combined with limits in the agency’s budget and its ability to attract and retain highly-qualified personnel, make it impractical for the Corps to employ a full, interdisciplinary suite of experts at every district office. Moreover, personnel needs will differ across studies. Planning for smaller, less expensive projects entails fewer needs than portfolio planning studies that may extend across large, multijurisdictional river basins.
One of the 216 studies panels evaluated and commented on review procedures for Corps planning studies (Panel on Peer Review; NRC, 2002b). That panel’s report recommended a process for identifying the agency’s “more costly and controversial” studies. It also recommended creating a group that would track the progress of Corps studies, recommend whether studies should be reviewed by external experts only or whether a review panel should include Corps staff, and help appoint review panels for “internal” reviews (ibid.). That group was referred to as the Administrative Group for Peer Review (AGPR), and this committee supports the establishment of such a group. In addition to its review-related responsibilities, an Administrative Group for Peer Review could identify and assemble Corps study teams to lead the agency’s largest portfolio planning studies, which will likely be the most complex, controversial, and costly.
Given that spatial scales of portfolio planning studies are often likely to be large, studies could be executed at a Corps division office(s) and could draw on expertise from across the entire Corps of Engineers, not just a particular division. Technical staff from other agencies could be engaged to supplement Corps staff capabilities. In addition, there would be a need for proactive participation by Corps Headquarters in matters related to study execution to ensure a uniform national approach and to effectively use planning expertise in the agency. The technical planning capacity available to Corps Headquarters may have to be expanded to serve this role. This arrangement would improve report quality and would help circumvent planning delays in Corps district offices that are attributable to uncertainties about planning methods and policies. Creating a means for drawing from Corps personnel across district lines and allowing Corps staff from its centers of expertise, such as the Corps Institute for Water Resources (IWR, in Alexandria, Virginia) and its Waterways Experiment Station (WES, in Vicksburg, Mississippi), would allow the Corps to bring its best minds to bear upon its more complex planning studies.
The Chief of Engineers should assign responsibility for their exe-