USACE 2012

Excerpted from Great Lakes United's Habitat Watch #285
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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to cut ties with Congress and operate like a business

The military commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers, wants to perform an overhaul of the much criticized and mistrusted federal agency. The draft plan "USACE 2012" would increase the military's role in reviewing and authorizing water projects and decrease the role of civilian employees and Congress. Critics say the plan was derived out of "supreme arrogance."

The plan proposes dividing the Corps into eight "regional business centers." Each business center would promote a service such as: navigation, flood control, recreation, and environmental restoration. The current Corps is in theory operating as a public agency- where project and construction requests must be requested by Congress and must meet a series of cost-shares and oversights. The new military-dominated business centers would be a huge change in Corps operations, where the agency would promote projects, solicit business and make decisions internally.

The overhaul is being proposed at a time when the Corps gathers little public trust and has been criticized by lawmakers, the General Accounting Office, the National Academy of Sciences, internal Pentagon investigators and the Office of Management and Budget for poorly planned projects and falsified economic analyses. In addition to recent backtracking after expansion planning in the Great Lakes Navigation System review drew deep and unified binational public opposition, the agency has been forced to suspend work on deepening the Delaware River, dredging the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, and restart a huge Mississippi River study after a whistleblower revealed and the US Army Inspector General verified that numbers were changed to create economic justification for billion-dollar lock expansions.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has already sent a letter to J.P. Woodley, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, asking that he intercede and put the Corps plan, slated to take effect October 1st, on hold. PEER says that the proposed plan contradicts Bush Administration policies, breaks congressional commitments, and violates Army guidance that the Corps not become a project promoter. PEER also says that the proposed plan does not address any of the criticisms raised of the Corps but would make it even harder to monitor Corps activities.

An article from Washington Post can be found here .

The PEER response, including a link to USACE 2012, a full critical analysis of the Corps plan, and the PEER letter to Mr. Woodley is at: