Modernizing the Corps Feasibility Study Process
Planning Modernization is a central component of the Civil Works Transformation efforts. The role of Planning Modernization in the Transformation effort is to complete high quality feasibility studies with shorter timeframes and lower costs. MG Walsh, the Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, has directed the Corps to complete all (new) feasibility studies with a target of 18 months - but no more than three years, at a cost of no more than $3 million, and of a "reasonable" report size.
This challenge will be met with the engagement of the breadth and depth of Corps experience.
- Districts will be 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 will be 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 will be considered and evaluated. However, feasibility-level design work will focus on the agency recommended plan and a Locally Preferred Plan (LPP) if appropriate.
- Final feasibility studies will have adequate level of detail required by law and regulation for a Chief’s Report and recommendation to Congress for an authorized project. However, the approach to level of detail, data collection, and models throughout the process must be based on what is necessary to conduct and deliver that feasibility study. The expense and time of collecting more data, developing a new model, or analyzing multiple alternatives to a high level of detail must be justified, rather than assumed.
We recognize that the processes of conducting feasibility studies are impacted by existing laws, guidance (both formal and informal) and procedures. The feasibility study process outlined in the Planning SMART guide can be accomplished under current laws, and for the most part, under current guidance and critical thinking. The SMART Guide annotates where existing guidance is modified. However, we will continue to identify and work to improve processes and clarify guidance to complete high quality feasibility studies with shorter timeframes and lower costs.