As happens on a regular political cycle, there are stories being published again with calls for USACE’s Civil Works mission to leave USACE and move to the U.S. Department of Transportation, or perhaps the Department of Interior. On Thursday, Major General Donald Jackson Jr. sent an Email for distribution within USACE on the proposal to move the mission. The final paragraph had one phrase highlighted which probably sums up USACE’s argument:
The Corps is an essential player in delivering infrastructure to the Nation, but there are renewed calls for the Army Civil Works program to be moved out of DoD to other Agencies. This call is coming from Congressional leadership, senior Members of the Administration, and several Governors. We need your help to reassure leaders, at all levels, moving the Corps does not solve the problem. We hear the frustration, and are working diligently in and out of the organization, to make necessary changes to achieve Administration’s infrastructure goals for the Nation.
We tend to agree with the General: while USACE has not been the most efficient project delivery team, much of the problem stems from limited Congressional appropriations, an inability to plan for construction because of single-year appropriations, late work-plans following very late Congressional appropriations bills, and layer-upon-layer of Congressionally-imposed requirements. The real question is, does moving a failing process to a new master make the process work better?