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Program Assessment


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Corps of Engineers: Regulatory Program

The Corps is responsible for protecting the environmental integrity of the nation's rivers, streams, and wetlands, in a way that supports a growing economy. It issues permits to land developers, road builders and others affecting these aquatic resources. It requires them to avoid, minimize and mitigate environmental damage.


What This Rating Means

Moderately Effective

In general, a program rated Moderately Effective has set ambitious goals and is well-managed. Moderately Effective programs likely need to improve their efficiency or address other problems in the programs' design or management in order to achieve better results.
  • The Corps needs to improve the way it checks to be sure that recipients of Corps permits comply with the terms of their permits, especially with respect to offsetting or mitigating any damage they cause to wetlands. The Government Accountability Office studied this compliance issue and agrees it is a problem.
  • The program should improve the extent to which its regulations are consistent countrywide. The Government Accountability Office recently conducted two surveys of Corps procedures in different parts of the country and found inconsistencies which need to be eliminated.
  • The Corps needs to do more watershed planning in advance of development and less project-by-project planning. The Corps of Engineers Civil Works strategic plan calls on the agency to make this change. There is widespread agreement that a broadly-focused watershed approach is more likely to improve the environment and the economy than a narrowly-based site-by-site approach.

Improvement Plan

About Improvement Plans

We are taking the following actions to improve the performance of the program:

  • Publishing a final rule on mitigation in March 2008 and has installed a new database to improve our ability to track the extent to which permit recipients comply with the terms of their permits.
  • Revised Nationwide permit regulations (in March 2007) and publishing our Standard Operating Procedures (in January 2008) to promote a consistent regulatory approach nationwide.
  • Increasing our focus on watershed planning. The Corps has funded several watershed pilot projects. We are sharing data with other federal, state and local agencies to expand watershed planning.

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