One of the best ways to learn about the direction of national flood risk management is to attend the annual conference of the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA). The NAFSMA conference is an amazing meeting of decision-makers and thought-leaders from around the country, with important topics discussed at a plenary session-only conference. And one of my favorite sessions is where the Director of Civil Works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a chance to present. Following are some high-level thoughts shared by Mr. Dalton on his June 21 Memorandum that we highlighted yesterday:

  • The idea was to put down in writing the direction that the Corps would like to have Civil Works go. There isn’t much detailed guidance in the Memorandum; just direction for now.
  • The Corps needs to use professional engineering judgment to make decisions and risk analysis is part of that. The judgment can help make sure that as a flood risk reduction community we don’t need to use modeling and analysis to get to the 99% analysis.
  • Another focus of the Memo is to delegate decision-making to where those decisions need to be made. It is not uncommon that when something goes wrong in an organization a decision is moved upward (such as to HQ). Now the Corps is trying to push that decision-making down to where it was in the past.
  • The Memo is also focused on the question of how the Corps should reduce redundancy and eliminate reviews to make things more efficient. For example, by the time you get to a Civil Works Review Board (which is eliminated by the Memorandum) you have already been through so many detailed reviews, including ITR and ATR, that there shouldn’t be anything new that is found.

Also, during a Q&A session after his remarks, Mr. Dalton stated he wants to hear from non-Federal partners about how the Corps can do its mission better. In particular, he recommended that feedback come through the Major Subordinate Commands (Divisions). He noted that the Districts are usually focused on project delivery, but the Divisions are where the policy dialogue can occur.