Detailed Information on the
Corps of Engineers: Coastal Ports and Harbors Assessment

Program Code 10002000
Program Title Corps of Engineers: Coastal Ports and Harbors
Department Name Corps of Engineers-Civil Works
Agency/Bureau Name Corps of Engineers-Civil Works
Program Type(s) Capital Assets and Service Acquisition Program
Assessment Year 2004
Assessment Rating Moderately Effective
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 80%
Strategic Planning 100%
Program Management 88%
Program Results/Accountability 56%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $1,055
FY2008 $957
FY2009 $957

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Develop criteria for allocating operation and maintenance funding in a cost-effective manner.

Action taken, but not completed A Risk and Reliability matrix was included in the Corps' Budget guidance for FY 2008 and FY 2009. The Risk and Reliability matrix is being refined for inclusion in the FY 10 Budget guidance.

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Improve the "remaining benefits/reamining costs" criterion for allocating the Corps construction budget, emphasizing the additional economic benefits and remaining costs of each Corps-assisted project.

Completed Replaced "remaining benefits/remaining cost" with benefit cost ratio (BCR) as principal criterion used for selecting ports and harbors construction projects. Safety and other factors must also be weighed in the balance. Policy favors projects with BCR equal to 1.5 and above. This should help ensure projects selected give the country the best return per dollar invested.

The Corps is developing Facility Condition Assessment policies and procedures as part of the Corps' integrated program approach to supporting President's Real Property Asset Management Initiative. See comments for current activities.

Completed The Corps supported the President's Real Property Asset Management Initiative by applying the Federal Real Property Council's (FRPC) method for determining Facility Condition for those buildings and structures, such as jetties, piers, and docks that support Ports and Harbors. These buildings and structures were included in the FY06 Federal Real Property Profile (FRPP) submission. The Corps will continue to update and provide this information on an annual basis through its FRPP submission.

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Long-term/Annual Outcome

Measure: Percent of time that high commercial-traffic navigation channels are available to commercial users.

Explanation:Measure expresses long-term goal and assesses availability of high-commercial use harbors, channels, and locks for current commercial usage

Year Target Actual
2005 95% 38%
2006 95% 35%
2007 95% 30%
2008 32%
Long-term/Annual Output

Measure: Percent of Chiefs reports recommending projects for authorization that meet criteria for reflecting watershed principles in the recommended plan

Explanation:Measure expresses long-term goal and assesses progress in watershed-based planning

Year Target Actual
2008 baseline
Long-term Output

Measure: Percent of project features (excluding navigation channels) that exceeds facilities condition index (FCI) standard. The measure assesses the agency's performance in accomplishing the President's Real Property Asset Management Initiative.

Explanation:Measure expresses long-term goal and assesses prgress in achieving properly maintained infrastructure that is fully utilized and efficiently operated.

Annual Outcome

Measure: Total Average Annual Benefits (Present Value) attributable to PEDs completed in FY

Explanation:Measure assesses effectiveness of PED in enabling transportation savings. Directly supports CW Strategic Objective 1.1. establishes stronger Program performance level link to budget.

Year Target Actual
2008 baseline
Annual Outcome

Measure: Total Average Annual Benefits (Present Value) realized by construction projects completed in FY

Explanation:Measure assesses effectiveness of construction program in realizing transportation savings. Enables aggregating project level performance into a program view that directly supports the Civil Works Strategic Plan Objective 1.1 and establishes a direct program performance link to budget.

Year Target Actual
2008 baseline
Long-term/Annual Outcome

Measure: Percent of time low use navigation infrastructure is available to all current users, unweighted

Explanation:Measure expresses long-term goal and assesses availability of low-commercial use channels, harbors, and locks to all current users

Year Target Actual
2008 baseline
Annual Outcome

Measure: Percent change in constant dollar balance to complete programmed work on all ongoing, budgetable construction projects

Explanation:Measure assesses progress in reducing backlog of ongoing, budgetable construction projects

Year Target Actual
2008 baseline
Long-term/Annual Efficiency

Measure: Operation and maintenance cost per ton of cargo shipped through a port. (New measure, added August 2007).

Explanation:Measure assesses the efficiency of providing a commercial navigation system at a particular location. It helps program managers identify (low cost) locations where additional investment may be warranted and (high cost) locations where additional investment may be less attractive.

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: The purpose of this Corps program is to develop and maintain key portions of the nation's marine infrastructure (such as navigation channels, jetties and breakwaters) at the nation's coastal ports and harbors in support of the Corps navigation mission. The navigation mission is to provide safe, reliable, efficient, and environmentally-sustainable waterborne transportation systems (channels, harbors and waterways) for movement of commerce, for national security needs, and also for recreation.

Evidence: The Corps works with other federal agencies, state and local governments (including port authorities) and parties in the private sector (including dredging contractors) to maintain 299 commercial harbors, through which 2 billion tons of cargo move annually, and 627 smaller harbors, many of which are dependednt upon Corps-maintained and assisted ports and harbors. The program is authorized under various Rivers and Harbors Acts and Water Resources Development Acts.

YES 20%

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest or need?

Explanation: The U.S. is a world power, with worldwide commercial and economic interests. Navigation is one mode of the Nation's total transportation network: air, rail, truck, ship, and pipeline. Moreover, world trade is expected to grow in the future. Coastal ports and harbors must be adequate to support this growth. Corps-supported ports and harbors also contribute to domestic trade and commerce and thereby contribute to a prosperous economy and the growth of well-paying jobs.

Evidence: More than one in four jobs in the U.S. economy is dependent on U.S. imports and exports. In the year 2002, total waterborne commerce was 2.34 billion tons of which 1.32 billion tons moved via Great Lakes and coastal ports. Approx. 95 percent of all commodity movement to foreign markets is by water. The value of goods coming from or going to foreign ports through Corps-maintained harbors was over $260 billion in 2001. Of that amount, the value of exports was $312 billion and the value of imports was $302 billion.

YES 20%

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: The program is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private efforts. Congress has decided that the Corps should play a role planning, financing and supervising general navigation features at the country's ports and harbors. The community of people concerned with coastal ports and harbors support the current division of responsibilities between the agency and port authorities with whom it works. The current program works reasonably well.

Evidence: The Corps was assigned responsibility for protecting and maintaining ports and harbors in 1824. The U.S. Constitution recognizes the quasi-public nature of the governance of ports and harbors in the commerce clause and port preference clause.

YES 20%

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: The program works reasonably well and is free of fundamental structural flaws. However, ther is a wide range of views on problems the program faces and the appropriate way to deal with those problems. Many program advocates see constrained funding as a serious problem. Some program advocates believe cost-sharing requirements should be modified in favor of state and local interests. Some program critics question the need for federal funding of ports and harbors. Ports and harbors invest an extimated $1.7 billion each year for infrastructure including wharfs, warehouses, cargo handling equipment, roads and rails, administrative buildings and security improvements. Ports, in the view of these critics, could finance out of their own resources the infrastructure the Corps now pays for, including navigation channels, for example. To take a specific example, the Port Authority of NY and NJ invests $1 billion each year. The Corps gives it more than $100 million annually for dredging-related activities. The ports could pay for these expenses itself.

Evidence: The funding challenge can be met in several ways: (a) The Corps can cut costs by allocating limited resources to projects where they have maximum positive effect on the economy; or (b) States and local interests can be asked to assume a larger share of the cost of the program. The Administration's program attempts to strike a balance on each these strategies. The Adminstration's emphasis on benefit-cost assessments and other performance metrics is a clear effort to allocate limited resources to areas where they have the largest economic return. Cost sharing formulas provide a balanced approach, requiring those who benefit from the program to pay part of its cost.

NO 0%

Is the program effectively targeted, so that resources will reach intended beneficiaries and/or otherwise address the program's purpose directly?

Explanation: Corps coastal navigation funds are used to provide direct services to the users of navigation channels and waterways. The Corps assures successful program performance through use of two features of the program: 1) each new project is required to demonstrate positive net benefits; and, 2) a local sponsor must provide 50% of study costs and between 20 and 60% of construction costs. Corps maintenance expenses are reimbursed from the Habor Maintenance Trust Fund. These cost-sharing requirements help ensure that the Federal investments have the greatest impact.

Evidence: The budget process of ranking high use, high performance projects first results in mid-90 % availability. 149 ports in 30 states and Puerto Rico annually handle more than 1 million tons of cargo each. All eight Corps Major Subordinate Commands in the continental U.S., and 20 or 38 district offices, manage coastal port and harbor projects. In 2001, public port authorities spent $2 billion on capital improvements to landside port facilities, which are served by Corps navigation projects.

YES 20%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 80%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: These measures express long-term goals and assess the effectiveness of the components that result in program accomplishment and transportation savings.

Evidence: The March 2004 Civil Works Strategic Plan reflects performance measures for investing in navigation infrastructure. These measures have been updated and are reflected in the measures tab.

YES 11%

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: The March 2004 Civil Works Strategic Plan defines the long-term program goal as follows: to provide safe, reliable, efficient, and environmentally-sustainable waterborne transportation systems (channels, harbors, and waterways) for movement of commerce, for national security needs, and for recreation.

Evidence: See measures tab.

YES 11%

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that can demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term goals?

Explanation: Annual performance measures reflect "glide paths" from baseline status to targets for long-term measures. Baseline and targets are under development.

Evidence: See measures tab.

YES 11%

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures?

Explanation: A number of measures are under development and baselies have not been established. Annual targets reflect glide paths from baseline status to long-term targets.

Evidence: See measures tab.

YES 11%

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation: Cost sharing project sponsors participate in formulating and then financing navigation studies and projects.

Evidence: Reflected in cost sharing agreements for each study and project whereby sponsors participate in studies, contribute 50% of study costs and contribute lands, easements, and rights-of-way and cash to project construction.

YES 11%

Are independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: Project by project review with further evolution of the process with input from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on independent review and other Corps reviews conducted on an as-needed basis. However, external reviews are not a regular part of the process. The NRC recommended that external review only be applied to the most compex or controversial studies. Review process for each project requires coordination with other Federal, State and local agencies and interested parties and outside reviews are conducted on an as-needed basis. Other studies have utilized outside reviewers as well.

Evidence: The ASA(CW) has an office of Project Planning and Review and the Corps has recently created an Office of Project Review.

YES 11%

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: The budget is built in increments and the impact of varying increments on performance is displayed. Each increment (program level) defines what is achievable with each additional increment/decrement of funding within each business program.

Evidence: FY2006 budget Engineer Circular (EC 11-2-187) and budget submitted to OMB.

YES 11%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: The Corps has made significant progress in developing new long-term and annual performance measures. The Strategic Plan is continually reviewed and revised. It includes all interested parties in the mix of commentators through publication on the "WEB". The Corps is continuing to develop and refine performance metrics.

Evidence: The Civil Works Strategic Plan was published in March 2004 as a work in progress to respond to review concerns voiced by the Office of Management and Budget.

YES 11%

Has the agency/program conducted a recent, meaningful, credible analysis of alternatives that includes trade-offs between cost, schedule, risk, and performance goals and used the results to guide the resulting activity?

Explanation: The tradeoffs of costs and benefits are conducted within the project development proces in accordance with the P&G and Corps planning and project guidance. Development of the FY2006 agency budget request involved using miltiple performance metrics to allocate resources to the highest return activities.

Evidence: Agency FY2006 budget EC and budget request, 1983 Principles and Guidelines, ER 1105-2-100.

YES 11%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 100%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: The Corps collects physical performance data and uses it to manage facilities. This information is maintained in the Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL) as a source of basic project and performance information. Other measures are focused on financial activities; e.g., expenditures on schedule, activities completed on schedule.

Evidence: The Corps collects data on ship groundings, shoaling, and water levels and aggregates these data into overall "availability." The Navigation Data Center Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center collects all the waterborne commodity data annually for all ports, harbors, and waterways. The Navigation Data Center also tracks the location and usage of Corps and industry dredges for new and maintenance dredging activities. OMBIL also provides basic project and performance information.

YES 12%

Are Federal managers and program partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: Managers are accountable for schedules and for having projects open and available for traffic. Fixed-price constracts tightly specify performance requirements. The Corps accomplishes much of its studies and all of its construction by contract. ER 4115-1-17 prescribes "Construction Contractor Performance Evaluations", and record of performance is recorded in the Construction Contractor Appraisal System (CCAS) and used for future construction contract bidder qualification.

Evidence: ER 4115-1-17. Engineer Regulation and Pamphlet 1130-2-520, chapter 8. Dredging Information System shows all contract completion information and has contractor evaluations and performance documentation on file.

YES 12%

Are funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?

Explanation: Funding is requested on an incremental basis - the amount the Corps can expend in that given Fiscal Year - instead of lump sum. Non-Federal funds are usually requested in the year needed and usage is scheduled accordingly. The Corps is concerned with the efficient obligation and expenditure of funds and diligently tracks financial performance through the Program Review Board and Resource Management Boards.

Evidence: HQUSACE Consolidated Command Guidance (CCG) published each August.

YES 12%

Does the program have procedures (e.g. competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, appropriate incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: (1) Each project undergoes value engineering analysis to identify ways to construct project at less cost and greater efficiency. (2) The principle of cost sharing with non-Federal project sponsors, represented by the Inland Waterways Users Board, results in a strong incentive to achieve cost efficiencies and an effective project. The Harbor Maintenance Tax is an ad valorem tax on the value of cargo shipped between U.S. and foreign ports and covers maintenance for non-fuel-taxed harbors.

Evidence: ER 1165-2-131 Local Cooperation Agreements for New Start Construction Projects; ER 1105-2-100 "Planning Guidance Notebook; ER 1110-2-1150 Engineering and Design for Civil Works Projects; ER 1110-2-8151 Life Cycle Design and Performance. Annual Reports for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and for the Inland Waterways Users Board. Dredging Information System shows contract data that includes the number of contract bidders and a comparison of bids to the Government estimate.

YES 12%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: The Corps is a member of a multi-agency, intermodal (trucking, rail, and waterways) team addressing the nation's navigation (and other modal) needs by the year 2020. The Corps also coordinates extensively with cost sharing sponsors and stakeholders during planning, design, construction, and operation of specific projects. The Civil Works Strategic Plan is based on the watershed approach: working collaboratively with a braod range of stakeholders to help solve water resources problems in a sustainable manner; using systems approaches to understand the connections between natural and man-made systems; analyzing water resources problems on larger geographic scales; and striving to achieve multiple goals and functions using water and related resources in a balanced manner.

Evidence: Interagency Committee for the Marine Transportation System

YES 12%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: The Corps has a real time database (CEFMS) which tracks appropriated, scheduled, and expended funds. Projects which are behind schedule may have funds reprogrammed to other projects. The Corps has been making substantial progress in producing sound annual financial statements. The major obstacle is in determining the original cost of existing plant, equipment and property, which affects its balance sheet.


YES 12%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: The Corps uses yearly evaluations at the national, regional, and field operations levels to identify and correct management deficiencies. Management deficiencies are identified through a proven internal control procedure developed by the Corps management audit program and governed by an Engineer Regulation. This management control system is common to all business programs in the Corps. This program and yearly evaluation is applied at the national program level, the regional level, and the field operations level. There are mandatory corrective actions as a result of this program.

Evidence: ER 11-1-30 USACE Internal Management Control Program

YES 12%

Is the program managed by maintaining clearly defined deliverables, capability/performance characteristics, and appropriate, credible cost and schedule goals?

Explanation: Defining documents include Project Management Plans, cost sharing agreements, plans and specifications and the terms of contracts, economic analyses (which must be kept current for new projectsj). Project Management Plans are the master document for defining deliverables and goals. Reprogramming provides flexibility to reallocate funds when schedules must be modified. The Corps tracks obligation and expenditure data through its financial systems. The agency is negotiating partnership agreements to ensure the agency is working effectively with port authorities.


NO 0%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 88%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term performance goals?

Explanation: Funding constraints, and higher spending priorities elsewhere in the federal government, have resulted in reduced funding for coastal ports and lower availability, reliability, and efficiency.

Evidence: The Corps has kept the system in running order, but maintenance backlogs have increased. FY03, FY04, and FY05 budgets proposed to give maintenance priority to high-use projects over lower-use projects. The agency request for FY 2006 provides no funds for purely recreational harbors.

NO 0%

Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: Annual goals are adjusted to reflect budget decisions..



Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?

Explanation: The results of a cost-savings initiative for operations have been implemented Corps-wide. New technologies have been applied to reduce the duration of scheduled and unscheduled outages. Headquarters and Division FTE have been reduced 30% over 10 years.


YES 17%

Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: There are no similar programs.

Evidence: U.S. Constitution, commerce clause and port preference clause.

YES 17%

Do independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: The Corps performs economic feasiblity analyses of investments in new facilities and major rehabilitations. New investments are reviewed through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process by the public, interest groups and other Federal agencies.



Were program goals achieved within budgeted costs and established schedules?

Explanation: Schedules and targets are adjusted to reflect budget and appropriation decisions. Some projects have required reauthorization due to cost growth. Projects are authorized with the cost-celing that alllows for a maximum 20% increase in constant dollars. Congress must approve projects exceeding the maximum.


Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 56%

Last updated: 09062008.2004SPR