Civil Works Transformation


The Civil Works program faces a myriad of challenges which are prompting swift transformation in our business model. To meet current and future challenges and address the water resources needs of our nation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has initiated an effort to transform its Civil Works program with the imperative to improve performance and responsiveness; increase customer satisfaction, public trust and confidence; improve readiness; and maintain a competitive edge.

Transforming the Feasibility Study Process


The Corps’ feasibility study process has been transformed with a focus on decision-making earlier in the study process, using a progressive and iterative planning process to address key areas of uncertainty. The 254 currently active studies in the planning portfolio are being executed based on “SMART Planning” milestones – key decision points to ensure accountability and successful study execution. In addition, since 2012, Districts have been directed to complete all feasibility studies within a target timeline of 18 months and no longer than three years, at a cost of no more than $3 million, and at a "reasonable" written length. These fundamental planning principles underlie the transformation of the feasibility study process:

  • Districts remain responsible for executing studies and District staff will form the heart of the Project Delivery Team. However, a coordinated USACE District, Division, and Headquarters Vertical Team is deployed throughout the project development process in a One-Corps approach to identify and resolve policy, technical, and legal issues early in the process.
  • A full array of alternatives is considered and evaluated. Studies first focus on a fair and credible comparison of alternatives. Under the new process, once a plan is tentatively selected and undergoes concurrent public, technical, policy, and legal review, additional detailed analysis and design will be conducted to further reduce uncertainty in costs, benefits, and impacts.
  • Final feasibility studies will match the level of detail required by law and regulation for a Chief’s Report and recommendation to Congress for consideration of project authorization. However, the approach to level of detail, data collection, and models throughout the process is based on what is necessary to support decisions to be made throughout the feasibility study. The expense and time of collecting more data or analyzing multiple alternatives to a high level of detail must be justified, rather than assumed.

Planning Modernization

Planning Modernization is a central component of the Corps’ Civil Works Transformation efforts, building a sustainable Civil Works Planning Program that delivers quality products and decisions. This will be achieved by:

  • Investing in our People: improving planner knowledge and experience through training and other opportunities, and creating a sustainable national and regional planning operation and organization;
  • Managing a Portfolio of Projects: focusing available funding on the most credible and viable projects for Congressional authorization and ensuring consideration of study objectives throughout the lifecycle of Corps projects; and
  • Transforming Planning Processes: bringing increased efficiency and efficacy to the processes the Corps uses to make decisions and produce planning decision documents.

Planning Modernization efforts in FY13 have focused on portfolio management and improved delivery of planning processes. In FY14, supporting the long-term sustainability of the Planning program and improving the efficiency of delivery will be examined as we look to transform Planning Operation and Organization.