|Program Title||Corps of Engineers: Recreation Management|
|Department Name||Corps of Engineers-Civil Works|
|Agency/Bureau Name||Corps of Engineers-Civil Works|
Direct Federal Program
|Assessment Rating||Moderately Effective|
|Assessment Section Scores||
|Program Funding Level
|Year Began||Improvement Plan||Status||Comments|
Implement Recreation Modernization Strategy for FY 07 and FY 08 approved by Assistant Secretary of the Army and transmitted to OMB with goal of facility, financial and visitor services sustainability.
|Action taken, but not completed||The authority for projects to retain user fees they collect that were supposed to improve the recreation site where they are collected expired after 2004. As a result, new strategy has been developed in order to achieve the modernization goals. The strategy goes beyond management of facilities and sites. It addresses the recreation program as a whole, including ways to modernize the programs and policies to guide on-the-ground management of recreation resources.|
Seek new and innovative sources of funds to augment annual appropriations. Efforts ongoing until legislation is passed.
|Action taken, but not completed||Pursuing several legislative proposals that would authorize additional fees at Corps recreation areas, fee retention, expanded non-Federal contribution of funds and recovery of costs to administer the shoreline use permit program.|
Seek innovative process for allocating projects budgets to meet prescribed performance and level of service targets.
|Action taken, but not completed||Refine the budget development process to provide an ability to prioritize funding resources among projects to bring about consistent programs across the country, to plan for potential long-term growth in demand for outdoor recreation opportunities on high performing Corps managed lands as indicated by visitation trend analyses, as well as increase capability to fund recreation backlog maintenance.|
|Year Began||Improvement Plan||Status||Comments|
Measure: Park Capacity
Explanation:An output performance measure of the maximum capacity of Corps managed parks to serve visitors (in site days/nights). Out year targets are based on a $271 million budget for FY 09 and $339 million budget for FY 10 through FY 13.
Measure: Facility Service
Explanation:This is an outcome measure of the quality of facilities and utilizations at Corps recreation areas. This measure is the percentage of visitors served at a Corps-managed recreation area with a facility condition score of 4 or better, which indicates their experience was fair to good. Out year targets are based on a $271 million budget for FY 09 and $339 million budget for FY 10 through FY 13. At the $339 million funding level, there will be funding for improvements that address visitor health and safety needs, modernize electrical service at high performing campgrounds, improve operational efficiency and improve access to facilities for disabled visitors; to increase visitor assistance services by rangers; and to perform visitation surveys.
Measure: National Economic Development Benefits. This is an estimate of the economic benefits produced by the Corps recreation program.
Explanation:This is an outcome measure of results derived from our provision of outdoor recreation opportunities. The Recreation Unit Day Value methodology is used to determine this value. Out year targets are based on a $271 million budget for FY 09 and $339 million budget for FY 10 through FY 13.
Measure: Visitor health and safety services
Explanation:This is an outcome measure of the percent of visitors to Corps- managed recreation areas served at acceptable level of service.. Out year targets are based on a $271 million budget for FY 09 and $339 million budget for FY 10 through FY 13.
Measure: Cost Recovery
Explanation:Percent of agency operation and maintenance spending that program beneficiaries pay through recreation user fees. Out year targets are based on a $271 million budget for FY 09 and $339 million budget for FY 10 through FY 13.
Measure: Benefit Cost Ratio
Explanation:This is the ratio of national economic development benefits to program costs. The long term banefit cost ratio takes oprational efficiency and improvements with multi-year benefits into account. Out year targets are based on a $267 million budget for FY 08 and $296 million budget for FY 09 through FY 12.
|Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design|
Is the program purpose clear?
Explanation: The Corps is authorized and directed by statutes to provide outdoor recreation opportunities for the American public at its multi-purpose water resources projects. The Corps Civil Works Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2004-2009 www.usace.army.mil/inet/functions/cw/hot_topics/cw_strat.pdf reflects recreation program goals consistent with a Natural Resources Management mission that promotes diverse recreation opportunities in a way that is holistic, balanced, fically responsible and consistent with the Corps Mission, including sound environmental stewardship.
Evidence: The Corps primary authorizing statutes for recreation are: Section 4 of the Flood Control Act of 1944 to provide outdoor recreation facilities at its projects and enter into agreements with nonfederal public agencies for this purpose; Public Law 89-72 mandating that full consideration be given to outdoor recreation and fish & wildlife enhancement as equal project purposes; and Section 208a of Public Law 104-303 directing the Secretary of the Army to provide recreation opportunities at water resources projects operated, maintained or constructed by the Corps. The NRM Mission is to manage and conserve natural resources under Corps jurisdication, consistent with ecosystem management principles while providing quality outdoor public recreation experiences to serve the needs of present and future generations. See the complete mission at: www.usace.army.mil/inet/usace-docs/eng-regs/er1130-2-550/c-2.pdf.
Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest or need?
Explanation: The Corps conserves natural resources and provides public recreation opportunities for current and future generations that contribute to the quality of American life on Corps-managed water resources projects. Visitors are attracted by the unique experiences that water-oriented recreational resources offer.
Evidence: Annual visitation statistics show that Corps projects receive almost 400 million recreation visits annually. In 2003, the Corps conducted a Recreation Stakeholders meeting to identify current and emerging recreational requirements. Feedback included: improving partnering opportunities, improving recreation-related infrastructure, and making a long-term commitment to sustainable, water-resource based recreation that balances the needs of diverse recreation needs with resource protection. Two national listening sessions and 14 regional listening sessions on water resources issues were conducted in 2000. Feedback from recreation interests included: making recreation an emphasis area, building and improving recreation facilities, and maintaining recreation facilities currently in use.
Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private effort?
Explanation: Recreation opportunities provided occur on the approximately 12 million acres of lands and waters managed by the Corps. Statutory provisions authorizing recreation differ from those of other Federal recreation providers such as the National Park Service (NPS), The U.S. Forest Service (USDAFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), etc. Inherently, the Corps Recreation Program is water-resource based and urban market oriented as opposed to other programs that are primarily land based and rural oriented. The significance of the urban orientation is evident in that 80% of Corps lake and river projects are uniquely situated within 50 miles of major metropolitan areas and 94% are within a two-hour drive.
Evidence: The Corps provides 21% of recreational opportunities on Federal lands on less than 2% of the Federal land base. The Corps provides 35% of all recreational fishing within the US on lakes over 10 acres in size and 15% of freshwater boating. A survey of National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS) users in 2002 indicates significant demographic differences between USDAFS & Corps visitors. This includes differences in education levels, income levels and ethnicity. Additional comparisons with NPS will be available in 2004. Currently, 75% of reservations made through the NRRS are for Corps facilities.
Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?
Explanation: The Recreation Program is designed to balance sustainable environmental stewardship with diverse recreational demands and multiple project uses such as flood control, hydropower, navigation and water supply. However, program performance might be enhanced if the program were on a more secure financial footing. Tight budgets crowd out spending on recreation programs since many parties believe that users could pay for this program and that scarce federal funding should be used for other programs where the beneficiary pays option does not exist.
Evidence: The Civil Works Strategic Plan is supported by a set of implementation plans including Master Plans, Operational Management Plans and annual work plans to ensure balanced use and sound environmental stewardship to benefit current and future generations. Current legislative authorities and agency policy require that major new recreation development on Corps managed lands includes the participation of a cost share sponsor. Currently, 43% of developed parks are operated on an outgrant basis by an entity other than the Corps. Outgranting of parks is accomplished when an entity is interested in and proves it has the capability to operate and manage the park successfully. All activities of the Corps are governed by the Environmental Operating Principles. See: www.hq.usace.army.mil/cepa/envprinciples.htm.
Is the program effectively targeted, so that resources will reach intended beneficiaries and/or otherwise address the program's purpose directly?
Explanation: Water-resources based recreation is the primary emphasis for the Corps program and distinguishes it from other Federal agency recreation programs. Opportunities include fishing, boating, and water-skiing along with associated activities such as camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, picnicking, and participating in environmental education and water safety programs. Specific recreation use is managed via special use permits and associated fees for activities or facilities such as camping , festivals, fishing tournaments, group pavilions, and athletic fields.
Evidence: Agency policies, as articulated in Engineering Regulation 1130-2-550, Recreation Operations and Maintenance Policies, guide the management of the Recreation Program. The budget guidance for the development of the FY06 recreation budget is specific regarding the goals and objectives of the Recreation Program and the Recreation Program Budget. Modernization initiatives are underway to address changing recreation needs such as accommodating modern recreational vehicles that require larger campsite pads and higher electrical voltage than the sites were originally designed for.
|Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design||Score||100%|
|Section 2 - Strategic Planning|
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: In accordance with the Civil Works Strategic Plan, Recreation program goals include: provide justified outdoor recreation opportunities in an effective and efficient manner at all Corps-operated water resources projects; provide continued outdoor recreation opportunities to meet the needs of present and future generations; and provide a safe and healthful outdoor recreation environment for Corps customers. An emphasis is placed on safeguarding future generations' access to natural resources which reflects a unique long-term performance commitment.
Evidence: These goals and associated measures are contained in the Civil Works Strategic Plan and shared within the Recreation Community of Practice on the NRM Gateway.
Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?
Explanation: Performance goals and measures have been identified and partially deployed. Full implementation of the measures will occur in early FY 05. At that time, targets and timeframes will be established.
Evidence: Performance measure baselines, targets and timelines will be developed in FY05. The current target for customer satisfaction is 90% of surveyed customers rating the program as acceptable or better. Acceptable recreation service levels have been established that require scoring between a point range of 30-39. Facility Standards have been developed that are designed to provide a uniform level of quality nationwide at Corps-managed parks. See: http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/employees/facilities/review-final.html .
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: Currently, the Corps uses 4 primary annual performance measures for the Recreation program.
Evidence: Annual performance measures include: customer satisfaction, recreation unit day availability per year, recreation facility condition index, and national economic development impacts. Additional measures used for management purposes include cost recovery (revenue collected) and number of visitors served.
Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures?
Explanation: Preliminary baselines have been developed using FY2004 data. These will be refiined and targets will be established in FY 05, based on performance data and evaluations of the FY04 program results.
Evidence: FY 06 Budget Development Guidance. www.usace.army.mil/inet/functions/cw/cecwb/EC06draft.pdf
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: Partners are essential to the Corps Recreation program. Recreation program goals are shared with partners such as concessions, volunteers, challenge partnerships and surrounding communities via involvement in land use planning initiatives along with periodic coordination meetings, stakeholder meetings, national listening sessions, and special demonstration projects. The purpose of this exchange is to ensure that quality recreation experiences are provided for the visiting public in a safe, efficient and balanced manner.
Evidence: Partner interest has resulted in several specialized lake demonstration programs. The Federal Lakes Demonstration Program in 1996-99 included 13 Corps lakes tasked with focusing on improving efficiency, innovation and partnering. Six additional demonstration projects to facilitate and enhance partnership opportunities were identified for FY 05. Six Partnership Demonstration Projects have been identified pursuant to the Recreation Modernization Initiative in the FY05 President's Budget to facilitate and enhance partnership opportunities. There are currently 27 national MOAs and MOUs between the Corps and partners such as: Association of Partners for Public Lands, Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. See: http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/employees/cecwon/mou.html. Many individual lake and river projects have supplemental or additional agreements with local or regional partners as well. 43% of recreation areas on Corps projects are managed by others. They include: 500 concessions, 593 state parks, 600 local government parks, and 421 quasi-public areas. There are also 21 Cooperating Association agreements and many challenge partnerships at Corps projects.
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: Several independent program evaluations have been conducted. These include: participation in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) for recreation since 2001; a Roper-Starch survey authorized by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) since 1998; using Corps customer comment cards to assess visitor satisfaction, and audits by the Army Audit Agency, the Department of Defense Inspector General, and the Government Accounting Office.
Evidence: The 2003 overall ACSI score for the Corps is 76 as compared to a government aggregated average of 70.9. This represents a 4.1% improvement over the 2001 score of 71. This score also indicated that the Corps recreation program has a high level of visitor trust and a low level of complaints. The ARC "Outdoor Recreation in America 2001" survey by Roper-Starch indicated that 62% of respondents scored the overall recreation industry as performing moderately well to very well. Corps customer comment card surveys reveal that 90% of respondents rated the overall quality of facilities and services as good or very good. Army Audit Report 97-26, "Corps Managed Recreation Areas" found that the Recreation program was managed in an "efficient and business-like manner", but could improve fee collections and financial databases. An audit is currently underway to examine revenue collection from outgranted lands (many of which are recreation-related ) and recreation fee collection.
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: An attempt to link budget more closely to performance was made in the FY 05 budget with limited results. A more aggressive effort is being implemented for FY 06. This includes incremental budget linkages. Baselines and targets will be established in early FY05.
Evidence: The FY 06 budget includes efficiency improvements and budget increment analysis based on: serving the visiting public at acceptable service levels, improving facilities via repair and/or replacement, modernizing facilities, accessibility improvements to serve persons with disabilities, efficiency improvements to existing sites, new facility construction in an existing areas, improvements related to the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commemoration, partnerships, and Healthier US. A Recreation Program Performance Improvement Initiative is under development to provide a comprehensive, coherent process to assess, monitor and improve program performance for effective and efficient provision of quality recreation opportunities. The purpose of the initiative is to make a good program even better.
Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?
Explanation: The Corps Recreation program is part of a holistic strategic planning effort that includes the Army Strategic Plan, the USACE Strategic Plan, the CW Strategic Plan, and annual Corps Recreation Leadership Advisory Team strategic planning efforts. Legislative proposals are submitted for specific needs as required. Program management is completing a strategic planning document that will build on the program's strengths and provide a set of guidelines that will help ensure program managers implement policies that are consistent country-wide.
Evidence: The Recreation Leadership Advisory Team (RLAT) consists of members of the Corps Recreation Community of Practice. This team conducts an annual Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis to determine future needs and establishes strategic goals for the Recreation Program consistent with the CW Strategic Plan. Recreation program, needs identified by the RLAT such as budget-linked performance measurement and economic benefit analysis are addressed by pursuing targeted research and development through the Recreation Management Support Program (RMSP). RLAT recommends changes to legislative authorities to improve program capabilities; e.g. establishment of Cooperating Associations and Challenge Partnerships. The Corps submitted proposed legislation to support the proposal in the President's FY05 Budget to authorize entrance fees and make part of the receipts available without further appropriation to support the recreation program. Comprehensive Land Use Policy will be implemented in FY05 to address current conditions and provide a coherent construct within which to make decisions about appropriate use of Corps managed lands.
|Section 2 - Strategic Planning||Score||88%|
|Section 3 - Program Management|
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: A concerted effort to collect performance information for the Recreation program has been underway since 1996. Modified measures are proposed for FY 06 that will provide an holistic overview of program performance. Some measures are collected for upward reporting whereas others are used internally to improve program assessment and management.
Evidence: Historical performance measures include: user fee revenues, visitor satisfaction, number and value of volunteers, number of visitors participating in interpretive/educational programs, visitor satisfaction with the quality of natural resources, recreation unit day availability, and recreation efficiency. Outgrant partners are assessed on revenue, visitation, safety, and compliance with legal requirements, such as accessibility for persons with disabilities.
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: Annual performance assessments are performed on Natural Resources Management (NRM) employees such as park rangers, lake managers, and project managers. Annual assessments of partner outgrants are performed by a combination of Operations and Real Estate personnel. The Corps also has an internal performance tracking system.
Evidence: Regular execution and performance assessments of Corps programs with both vertical and horizontal integration include: Command Management Review (CMR), Program Review Board (PRB), and the Program and Budget Advisory Council (PBAC). Annual evaluations of partner outgrants includes assessements of revenue, effectiveness and facility condition.
Are funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?
Explanation: Agency records show good historical funding execution for the Recreation program. Funds are scheduled for commitment on a quarterly basis. Quarterly and yearly execution is monitored through 2101/3011A reports from the Corps of Engineers Financial Management Systerm (CEFMS), with oversight provided through the Command and Control Information Review (CCIR) process. Using CEFMS capability, this monitoring may be accomplished by business program.
Evidence: Budget and expenditure information for all program areas, including the Recreation program, is contained in the Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link, which derives information from CEFMS. Information on actual appropriations is maintained by the Programs Integration Division. Data from these sources indicate there is very little carry over of funds to succeeding FYs.
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: The Corps uses a suite of software tools to track expenditures, efficiencies and performance. The Corps has also been a leader on several E-government initiatives that improve efficiency and effectiveness of recreation program management. A combination of partnering and outsourcing is used to provide recreation opportunities.
Evidence: The Corps of Engineers Financial Management System (CEFMS) is the primary financial tracking tool used across the Corps and it promotes efficient financial management practies. It is linked to the Project Management automated information system (P2) and to the Operations and Maintenance Business Information Linke (OMBIL). OMBIL allows comparisons across the Recreation Program. The Information Technology Investment Portfolio System (ITIPS) is used to select, identify and control information technology investments that are directed at improving the effectiveness of the Recreation Program. E-Government Recreation-related initiatives, which are designed to improve efficiency and effectivenss and in which the Corps has played a leadership role include: Recreation 1-Stop (including the NRRS), Volunteer.gov and Partnerships.gov. Information on Recreation partners may be found in 2.5. Outsourcing has also been used to improve efficiency in Operations and Maintenance.
Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?
Explanation: The Corps participates in an extensive array of Recreation coordination iniatives involving government, private sector and nonprofit organizations.
Evidence: Collaboration occurs with: Recreation 1-Stop (including Recreation.gov and NRRS), monthly Federal Interagency Accessibility Team, Interagency Fee Council, Partnership Council, National Association of State Park Directors, National Recreation & Park Association, National Association of Interpretation, Partners Outdoors, American Recreation Coalition, and the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, among others. This collaboration has resulted in numerous joint initiatives such as NRRS, Fee Free Days, and National Public Lands Day among others.
Does the program use strong financial management practices?
Explanation: The rating criteria result in a "NO" answer for this section. However, the Corps uses software programs discussed in 3.4 to track financial performance. CEFMS is a real time tracking tool. We are in a challenging postition in that our Recreation program is tightly integrated with other project purposes such as Flood Damage Reduction, Hydropower and Navigation where assets are shared across programs. In addition, our program is part of the overall US Army financial audit. We are committed to achieving an unqualified audit opinion, however, have been unable to do so because of difficulties in areas outside the purview of the recreation program.
Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?
Explanation: Management deficiencies are minor, with the exception of section 3.6 above. To address minor deficiencies in effectiveness and efficiency, the Corps has developed strategies with implementation activities that are included the CW Strategic Plan, Master Plans, Operational Management Plans, Annual plans, policy guidance and legislative proposals.
Evidence: Minor deficiencies are addressed through periodic policy, efficiency and effectiveness reviews: Specific program areas having had recent reviews include recreation use fees, shoreline management, challenge partnerships, cooperating associations, faciity and service standards, park closure and turnback policies and others. AAA findings have led to improvements in ranger safety and training. The Environmental Review Guide for Operations Program is used to check for environmental sustainability of the Recreation program to include corrective actions.
|Section 3 - Program Management||Score||86%|
|Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability|
Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term performance goals?
Explanation: Data on long-term performance is incomplete, but demonstrates progress in areas such as improving visitor satisfaction. Deployment of new FY 06 performance measures will provide critical baseline information to track future performance.
Evidence: As stated in 2.6, visitor satisfaction as measured by ACSI has improved from 71 in 2001 to 76 in 2003. Corps visitor comment cards show that our target goal of 90% of visitors rating the Recreation program as acceptable or better is being achieved.
Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?
Explanation: As stated previously, partners such as outgrants, are critical to the Corps ability to provide Recreation opportunities to the public. Their performance is reflected in national surveys such as ACSI and ARC's Roper-Starch effort. Annual goals will be established in FY06 following collection of baseline information.
Evidence: Additional baseline data will be collected in FY 06 for: number of visitors served, annual net benefits, recreation unit day availability per year, visitor satisfaction and facility condition index.
Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?
Explanation: Information on improved efficiencies will be determined pending receipt of future performance measurement data. Some information is available, however, relative to visitor satisfaction and the number of visitors served.
Evidence: As we gain experience and data, we will build upon and improve our assessment process. Targeted incremental budget initiatives and a proposed methodology for improving recreation efficiencies will assist in this effort. "Good Enough to Share" best practices will continue to be shared on the NRM Gateway. Efficiency information tracked for management purposes includes: cost recovery (revenue collected) and occupancy rates.
Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals?
Explanation: Formal surveys provide information on areas such as visitor satisfaction. Informal comparisons are available via the many interagency collaboration initiatives the Corps participates in. The Corps fills a unique niche in specializing in water-based recreation opportunities.
Evidence: ACSI, Roper Starch, NRRS, and visitor survey cards results show favorable comparisons among other recreation providers as discussed in 2.6. Informal comparisons are available via collaborative partnerships discussed in 3.5. As discussed in 1.3, 2.6 and other sections, Corps performance compares favorably with other recreation providers.
Do independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?
Explanation: Independent program evaluations have been conducted. These include: participation in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) for recreation since 2001; a Roper-Starch survey authorized by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC); using Corps customer comment cards to assess visitor satisfaction and audits by the Army Audit Agency, the Department of Defense Inspector General, and the Government Accounting Office.
Evidence: The Corps contracts for the annual ACSI (partnership with the University of Michigan School of Business, American Society for Quality and CFI) survey. The Corps also collaborates with and provides information to the American Recreation Coalition for their periodic Roper-Starch assessments. Findings from GAO, AAA and DODIG reports are used as a basis for program improvement. The latter has included improvements in outgrant/concession operations and fee collection..
|Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability||Score||53%|