The Feasibility Level Design of the agency's recommended plan occurs after the Agency Decision Meeting. This phase of the study includes development of the final feasibility report and NEPA document and additional design of the recommended plan to reduce risk and uncertainty with cost data, engineering effectiveness, environmental impacts, and economic benefits.
The PDT will determine a recommended investment level and proposed Federal/non-Federal cost sharing for implementing the recommended plan, based on existing cost sharing policy. If the Agency Decision Milestone decisionmaker (MSC Director of Programs or HQ Chief of Planning Policy, depending on the study's approval level) confirms that a Locally Preferred Plan (LPP) should be carried forward that differs from the identified National Economic Development Plan (NED) or National Ecosystem Restoration (NER) Plan, the PDT will develop a sufficient level of cost and engineering detail on both the NED or NER Plan and the LPP to determine the appropriate cost sharing for authorization. Prior to the ADM, the PDT must submit a policy exemption request to the ASA(CW) allowing the recommendation of an LPP in lieu of an NED or NER Plan for congressional authorization. This "LPP waiver" must be approved by the ASA(CW) prior to the submittal of the final report for policy review.
The Feasibility Level Design phase includes:
- Sufficiently detailed design on the TSP (and LPP if appropriate), in order to improve accuracy of implementation costs, engineering effectiveness, and economic benefits.
- Preparation of the final feasibility report with identification of the agency recommendation.
- Cost Schedule Risk Analysis (CSRA).
- In-progress reviews (IPRs) as necessary to resolve any policy or agency issues.
The design effort will require increased use of critical thinking (i.e., engineering judgment) in the analysis and cost estimates. The PDT must analyze minimum design requirements to assure functionality, life safety, and develop accurate cost and schedule information. Each project will use a "risk register" previously developed to assess the likelihood of each project feature impacting cost, schedule and/or function/safety. The PDT should use the risk register to identify the level of detail and focus areas necessary to further design the agency recommended plan and for the agency to make a recommendation to Congress.
The goal is to minimize data collection and analysis for low impact features during the Feasibility design. High impact features should be carefully scoped such that data collection and analysis is commensurate with risk and adds value to the decision making process, accuracy to the cost and schedule, or reduces risk. The PDT shall work closely to identify areas where design details would be beneficial to reduce uncertainty.
Additional modeling and design should improve the definition of alternative impacts to the environment, mitigation plans, economic damages and benefits. If the additional design results in significant changes that would affect the selection of the agency’s recommended plan, then the team should re-evaluate the alternative selection process. The agency may determine that there are multiple best plans for recommendation based on different objectives.
District Quality Control (DQC), Agency Technical Review (ATR), independent external peer review (IEPR, if necessary), and ideally, the MSC's quality assurance on these review processes, will be completed prior to District Commander signature of the final decision document. Once the District Commander signs the recommendations in the final decision document, the USACE district will forward the final report, final NEPA document, and related materials to the MSC (if report approval has been delegated to the MSC) or to HQ (if approval has been retained by HQ) for final policy and legal compliance review. The District Commander’s signature is for the recommendation and does not constitute the project decision in accordance with ER 2-2-200. Therefore, the Record of Decision (ROD) or Finding of no Significant Impact (FONSI) will not be signed at or before this time.
If report approval has been delegated to the MSC, the final report package will be transmitted to HQ along with a final Project Guidance Memorandum documenting the resolution of all policy issues and an approval memo signed by the MSC Commander. For reports to be approved at HQ, final policy and legal compliance review will commence after the signed decision document is transmitted from the District to HQ.