1 April 2014
What Does a SMART Feasibility Study Look Like?
A feasibility study works progressively through the six-step planning process, with five key decision points or milestones. These milestones mark key decisions along the path to an effective and efficient study. With engagement of the Vertical Team and key HQUSACE Senior Leaders at the milestones, the PDT is assured that decisions made will not be revisited without good reason.
These milestones are not the same as the Feasibility Scoping Meeting (FSM) or Alternative Formulation Briefing (AFB). You will not see those terms in the Planning SMART Guide, and there is no direct translation between the checkpoints of the previous process and the way forward to developing feasibility reports:
- Alternatives Milestone – The Vertical Team and Project Delivery Team agree on the focused array of alternatives and the criteria that will be used to evaluate and compare the alternatives to select the agency recommended plan. In addition, there is Vertical Team agreement that the objectives of the study are consistent with Corps authorities and priorities.
- Tentatively Selected Plan Milestone – The Vertical Team and Project Delivery Team agree on the plan that will be published as the Tentatively Selected Plan for public review. Concurrent to public review, technical, policy, and legal reviews will occur.
- Agency Decision Milestone – The Project Delivery Team and Vertical Team bring forward the TSP to Senior Leadership, including the Deputy Commanding General of Civil and Emergency Operations (DCG-CEO) for confirmation. With confirmation, this plan becomes the agency recommended plan that will be the focus of increased engineering and cost design / detail sufficient to complete the feasibility study report.
- Civil Works Review Board – The DCG-CEO approves the final report for state and agency review, convening a scalable Civil Works Review Board – The DCG-CEO approves the final report for state and agency review, convening the Civil Works Review Board at his discretion.
- Chief’s Report Milestone – The Chief’s Report is developed for signature.
Throughout the feasibility study, all members of the PDT, Vertical Team and Review Team have the responsibility to ask themselves SMART questions:
- What is the decision we are going to make?
- How are we going to make the decision?
- What criteria will we use to make the decision?
- What are the key drivers (data, uncertainty, etc.) that will affect the decision?
- What data is immediately available? Will getting more data change the decision outcome?
- What are the decision risks (probability and consequence of making an undesirable decision) of using the available data?
- At every juncture, where more data, more time, more information is asked for the PDT should feel empowered to ask "Why do we need that data?" and "How Does it Influence the decision?"
This SMART Planning Guide provides initial guidance and direction for implementing this process. It will be updated and refined as the Corps implements both new start feasibility studies and applies the principles of SMART planning to ongoing feasibility studies. Planning Bulletins, tools developed by the Planning Centers of Expertise, additional direction from other Communities of Practice, and examples of success will be developed as a complement to the SMART Planning Guide to answer questions and resolve challenges.