Organization and Discussion of Main Findings

The IPET draft final report of June 2008 contains roughly 7,500 pages. A document of this size presents considerable editorial challenges in fully and clearly presenting its main findings and recommendations. The IPET report Volume I, Executive Summary and Overview, contains much interesting and useful information, and readers will turn to it expecting to see primary findings and recommendations. The Volume I Executive Summary is well written, interesting, and informative. Its readability is enhanced by the editorial-type format in which it is presented.

There are, however, many disconnections between Volume I’s Executive Summary (ES), and the organization and contents of the rest of the report. For example, the ES concludes that (among other things), “The standard project hurricane (SPH) methodology … is outdated and should no longer be used” (IPET, 2008). It also concludes that “The 100-year de facto standard is far too risky for the continued vitality of our economy…” (Ibid.). These are important findings with which many experts would agree. Nonetheless, it is not clear how or from where these conclusions flow from the IPET analysis presented in the various report volumes.

The size of the IPET document makes it difficult to determine quickly where supporting discussions for these and other conclusions appear in the main body of the report. In addition, cross-referencing between Volume I and the rest of the report is confusing and inadequate. As a result, key findings and conclusions based upon the IPET analysis are not as clear as they could be.

In a previous report (NRC, 2008a), this committee recommended that, in addition to the full IPET report, that a second document should be prepared “for elected officials and the public” and that this document “could be much shorter and focus on results and implications for reconstruction and resettlement” (Ibid.). The importance of this recommendation has not diminished, and the committee wishes to reiterate this point in the following recommendation.

The IPET and the Department of the Army should enlist the services of a firm that specializes in technical writing of scientific and engineering reports to produce a final, summary document of the entire IPET report. The summary should be written in layman’s terminology in order to communicate clearly the IPET study results to decision makers and citizens.

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