|Program Title||Corps of Engineers: Environmental Stewardship|
|Department Name||Corps of Engineers-Civil Works|
|Agency/Bureau Name||Corps of Engineers-Civil Works|
Direct Federal Program
|Assessment Section Scores||
|Program Funding Level
|Year Began||Improvement Plan||Status||Comments|
Agree on criteria to use to set priorities for basic natural resources inventories at Corps facilities. Prepare inventories focusing on soils, vegetation, wetlands and threatened/endangered species.
|Action taken, but not completed||Ranking criteria have been developed to promote completion of those inventories needed to evaluate the status of federally listed species on Corps land, or those needed due to increased developmental pressure outside project land boundaries. Completion of the inventories is budget dependent.|
Prepare a series of master plans, based on the natural resource inventories, to guide the use of land and the management of natural resources at Corps projects. Implement these plans.
|Action taken, but not completed||Master plan completions or updates are necessary so that managers have a well-thought-out set of project goals and objectives to guide management of the resources for which they are responsible. The completions of master plans is funding dependent. Budgets are proposed to promote the update or completion of required plans based on the level of land development outside and adjacent to project boundaries, the age of the existing master plan, and on the highest return per dollar spent.|
Conduct an independent review, assessing the effectiveness of the Corps in providing environmental stewardship at Corps projects that is appropriate and cost-effective.
|Action taken, but not completed||The Administration has not yet proposed funding to support evaluation of the stewardship program since implementation is just getting underway.|
|Year Began||Improvement Plan||Status||Comments|
Measure: Percent of healthy and sustainable acres on Corps fee-owned property.
Explanation:Measures the progress of Corps efforts in achieving a goal of 100% environmental sustainability for applicable lands and waters.
Measure: Percent of acres with completed minimum Level 1 natural resources inventories
Explanation:Demonstrates the status of Corps efforts in completing basic natural resources inventories which are necessary for sound resource management decisions and strategies development.
Measure: Percent of Corps-administered mitigation lands meeting authorizing requirements.
Explanation:Demonstrates the Corps status in meeting mitigation requirements.
Measure: Percent of projects with Master Plans that are in accord with current regulations
Explanation:Demonstrates Corps commitment to fully integrate environmental stewardship and the Corps Environmental Operating Principles in the management of operating projects requiring Master Plans.
Measure: Cents per dollar of agency operations and maintenance spending that program lessees and licensees pay for through timber sales revenue, agricultural leases and related contributions that are consistent with the resource protection and conservation mission of the program.
Explanation:The primary function of this program is to protect the environmental and natural resource values at Corps prperties across the country. At the same time, the program oversees 12 million acres of land. It is reasonable to expect the program to use this land and water in a prudent way. That is likely to include harvesting timber or leasing farm land, for example. We do not expect fees and charges to be a large part of this program but we do believe putting these assets to sound commercial use should should be on the scope of program managers. We are concerned that otherwise financia opportunities will be neglected and overlooked and that is inconsisnt with sound and balanced stewardship and managment.
|Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design|
Is the program purpose clear?
Explanation: The Corps is authorized and directed by statutes to manage natural and cultural resources on Corps-administered land and water in accordance with ecosystem management principles to ensure their continued availability and to provide a safe and healthful environment for project visitors. The Corps Civil Works Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2004-2009 www.usace.army.mil/functions/cwhot_topics/cw_strat.pdf reflects this mission, providing holistic, balanced, fiscally responsible stewardship consistent with the Corps Mission. The Environment-Stewardship Program vision is to provide healthy project lands and waters for current and future generations.
Evidence: The Corps' primary authorizing statutes for the Environment-Stewardship Program are individual project authorizations, Public Law 79-624, The Fish & Wildlife Coordination Act of 1954; Public Law 86-717, Conservation of Forest Land Act of 1960; Public Law 89-669, Protection of Rare and Endangered Species Act of 1966; Public Law 93-205 Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973; Public Law 99-662, 1986 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), for fish and wildlife mitigation; Public Law 89-72/PL 93-251, Federal Water Project Recreation Act mandating that full consideration be given to outdoor recreation and fish & wildlife enhancement as equal project purposes and requiring cost-sharing for fish and wildlife enhancement; Public Law 102-580, and WRDA 1992 authorizing challenge cost-share partnerships. Additional related laws include: Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, Archeological and Historic Preservation Act, National Environmental Policy Act, etc. The Environment-Stewardship Program mission is to manage, conserve and/or protect the natural and cultural resources at Corps operating water resources projects, consistent with project authorities and ecosystem sustainability approaches; consistent with the USACE Environmental Operating Principles; to meet environmental standards; and to serve the needs of present and future generations. The complete Natural Resources Management Mission Statement may be found at: corpslakes.usace.army.mil/pdfs/nrmmis.pdf. The primary Engineering Regulation (ER) for accomplishing stewardship activities is ER 1130-2-540. This program encompasses a very diverse resource base that includes forests, wetlands and prairies, hundreds of lakes and reservoirs, thousands of miles of rivers and streams, thousands of terrestrial and aquatic species, several National Natural Landmarks (such as a portion of the Mobile-Tenasaw River Bottoms - one the most extensive and significant wetlands in the U.S.), and thousands of archeological and historical sites (such as Native American burial mounds and Civil War sites).
Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest, or need?
Explanation: The Corps provides stewardship of its projects' lands and waters to sustain healthy natural and cultural resources and takes action to minimize adverse environmental impacts. The Environment-Stewardship Program manages natural and cultural resources to achieve healthy, sustainable conditions, and fosters healthy lands and waters by balancing public uses and needs. This includes management activities to: conduct Endangered Species Act (ESA) coordination/consultation and/or implement reasonable and prudent project operation measures specified in ESA biological opinions that affect the project, or implement species recovery measures identified in the ESA Recovery Plans; inventory quantity and condition of natural resources, prepare Master Plans, assure environmental compliance (includes compliance with statutes and court orders), fulfill mitigation requirements, and activities to prevent natural resources degradation and loss, to accomplish these objectives in a cost effective way, and to prevent, or mitigate , advserse impacts on significant cultural resources and Corps-administered National Historic Landmarks and Nationally Significant Historic Properties.
Evidence: The Corps manages 456 water resources projects located in 43 states. Associated with those authorized projects are streams, rivers, lakes, and adjacent lands. Corps managed lands total nearly 12 million acres, equal in size to the States of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Corps managed shoreline totals nearly 56,000 miles, roughly equal in length to the total U.S.ocean shoreline in the lower 48 states. Corps managed property includes many sites of special significance for wildlife, fish, wetlands, forest, grasslands, and our cultural and historical heritage. The Corps integrates the management of the existing diverse natural resources (such as fish, wildlife, forests, grasslands, wetlands, soil, air, water) and cultural resources, with the provision of recreation opportunities. This program is closely related to the Corps' recreation program and statistics from that program are evidence, in part, of the effectiveness of this program. Annual visitation statistics show that Corps projects receive almost 400 million recreation visits annually. Two national and 14 regional listening sessions were conducted in 2000 with 1,300 customers and included the following desired actions relative to stewardship: assess and monitor environmental health, test mitigation techniques, develop environmentally friendly technologies, and provide recreational access. A Mississippi Valley Division Recreational Fishing Stakeholders meeting with 46 participants conducted in 1999 had similar findings relative to improving recreation access and coordination of fisheries management.
Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private effort?
Explanation: Statutory provisions authorizing Corps stewardship and associated recreation opportunities differ from those of other Federal land managers in that they are inherently water-resource based and urban market oriented as opposed to other programs that are primarily land-based and rural oriented. Corps stewardship of natural and cultural resources is but one component of multi-purpose project management of reservoirs and associated lands as opposed to single-purpose projects that are often attributable to other land management agencies. Additional resource management challenges result from: the fact that 80% of Corps lake and river projects are situated within 50 miles of major metropolitan areas and 94% are within a two-hour drive (significant recreation demand), and authorized project purposes that may significantly impact/alter environmental resources. The Corps in some cases provides services that state and local governments and the private sector can provide, but it limits its activities to Corps-owned property areas adjacent to Corps projects.
Evidence: Corps-owned and operated impoundments for flood control and navigation also provide opportunities for hydropower, recreation, water supply, and stewardship. Corps stewardship responsibilities derive from its ownership of the lands and waters associated with the impoundments and from project authorizations and other statutes governing stewardship activities. The abundance of riparian areas (where land and water meet) under Corps stewardship is of particular significance in that they support not only aquatic species, but also 70 percent of all land species. People are also attracted to riparian areas, so it is not surprising that the Corps' Environment-Stewardship inventory also includes 40,000 archeological sites and 5,000 historic sites.
Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?
Explanation: Explanation: The Environment-Stewardship Program is designed to balance sustainable environmental stewardship with multiple project purposes such as flood control, hydropower, navigation, water supply and diverse recreation demands. The program emphasizes partnering with Federal, state, and private conservation organizations to leverage budget resources and advance effectiveness and efficiency. The program is free of major design flaws; however, as discussed in section 2.6, a program evaluation is needed that should include examining ways to increase receipts.
Evidence: The Civil Works Strategic Plan is supported by a set of implementation plans including Master Plans, Operational Management Plans, and annual work plans (such as fish & wildlife and forest management 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 stewardship enhancements include the participation of a cost-share partner and not result in additional operational and management responsibility for the Corps. All activities of the Corps are governed by the Environmental Operating Principles. See www.hq.usace.army.mil/cepa/envprinciples.htm.
Is the program design effectively targeted so that resources will address the program's purpose directly and will reach intended beneficiaries?
Explanation: The Environment-Stewardship Program has several key objectives: Ensure healthy and sustainable lands and waters associated with natural resources on Corps lands held in public trust, to support multiple purposes; Protect, preserve, and restore significant ecological resources in accordance with Master Plans; Ensure that the operation of all Civil Works facilities and management of associated lands complies with the environmental requirements of all relevant Federal, State, and local laws and regulations; Meet the mitigation requirements of authorizing legislation or applicable Corps decision document; and protect; preserve cultural and historical resources; and accomplish these objectives in a cost-effective way.
Evidence: Agency policies, as articulated in ER 1130-2-540 "Project Operations - Environmental Stewardship Operations and Maintenance Policies" guide the management of the Environment-Stewardship Program. See www.usace.army.mil/inet/usace-docs/eng-regs/er1130-2-540/toc.htm. The budget guidance for the program is specific regarding its goals and objectives to include budget-linked performance measures. The agency is currently preparing a Corps-wide land use policy statement which will provide guidelines for managers to use in striking the right balance amonmg conservation, development, preservation, and other values. In addition, the Corps plans to update the master plans for selected Corps sites in consultation with local, regional and national stakeholders.
|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, Stewardship Program goals include: compliance with environmental mandates and legal requirements; healthy and sustainable natural resources conditions; balance public uses of natural resources; and protect and preserve cultural resources. In addition to the long-term measures in the measures tab, the agency uses other measures for program management.
Evidence: Program goals and associated measures are contained in the Civil Works Strategic Plan and shared with the Environment-Stewardship Community of Practice via the Natural Resources Management (NRM) Gateway and annual budget guidance. See: http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/employees/envsteward/envsteward.html and the Performance Measures section. The Corps also contributes to the annual "Report to Congress on the Federal Archeology Program - GSA Control Number 0236-DOI-AN" to provide information on Federal archeological activities. Associated outcome measures include visitor satisfaction with the quality of Corps-managed lands and waters - one of four key components (facilities, lands and waters, information and visitor services) for gauging overall customer satisfaction with the Corps Natural Resources Management Program.
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 future years. At that time, targets and timeframes will be modified as appropriate.
Evidence: Current long-term targets include: 100% of Corps mitigation lands meeting the requirements in the authorizing legislation; and 100% of healthy and sustainable acres on Corps fee-owned property. See Performance Measures section.
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 3 primary annual performance measures for the Environment-Stewardship Program. (They are listed in the Ecvidence section.) The Corps also contributes to the annual Federal Archeology Program Report to Congress, and has discussions underway to develop a key performance metric for cultural and historic resources. Additional measures are used for internal management purposes.
Evidence: Annual performance measures associated with the objectives outlined in Section 1.5 include (1) percent of all significant environmental compliance findings corrected annually, (2) percent of acres with completed minimum Level One Natural Resources Inventories, and (3) percent of projects with Master Plan in accord with current regulations. See Performance Measures section.
Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures?
Explanation: Baselines are available for historical measures discussed in section 3.1. Preliminary baselines for some new measures were developed from 2004 data. Targets and baselines will be refined based on performance data collected in 2005.
Evidence: Targets are discussed in sections 2.3 and the Performance Measures section along with the FY 07 Budget Development Guidance and Civil Works Program 5-Year Development Plan (FY 2006-FY 2010).
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: The Corps works closely with partners at state and federal agencies and they work together to help achieve the program's goals. Program goals and management plans are shared with key partners such as managers of Federal and State fish and wildife areas located on Corps-managed lands and Federal and State forest management entities via involvement in land use planning initiatives, coordination meetings, stakeholder meetings, and listening sessions. The purpose of this exchange is to ensure effective and efficient management efforts that are coordinated and balanced in order to serve the public interests.
Evidence: There are currently 27 national Memorandums of Understanding/Agreement between the Corps and partners such as: Association of Partners for Public Lands, Ducks Unlimited, Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. See: http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/partners/list.html. Many individual lake and river projects have supplemental agreements. These MOU/MOA specify that the purpose and each party's responsibilities are to achieve the Corps and partner's common and related natural resources goals in accordance with applicable law, Corps missions and authorities, and program annual and/or long-term goals. Signing of such MOU/MOA commits the parties to participate in achieving the purpose and specific objectives of the MOU/MOA. For example, the stated purpose of the MOU between the Corps and The Nature Conservancy is to facilitate effective and efficient management of important biological resources within the context of the Corps Civil Works and regulatory missions, Each party to the MOU is responsible to cooperate to seek opportunities to promote conservation of regionally significant biological diversity in accord with applicable law, for the purposes of carrying out projects and programs related to conservation, understanding, management and sustainable use of the Nation's land and water resources. Non-federal interests manage 43 percent of recreation and natural resources areas, including approximately 200 state wildlife management areas, 25 federal wildlife refuges, 50 state and federal fish hatcheries, and hundreds of state and local government parks. For example licenses or leases are issued to state fish and wildlife departments, who agree to abide by the terms specified in the instruments. The terms of the agreement are to implement stewardship actions on Corps lands and waters that are in accord with the projects operational management plan. The operational management plan specifies management actions that are necessary to achieve both annual and long-term program outputs.
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: The last comprehensive assessment of the Environment-Stewardship program was conducted by a blue ribbon panel in 1984. The Corps will recommend another independent program assessment of the Environmental Stewardship program. The independent entity will evaluate current management practices with the objective of recommending management improvements and innovations while supporting program strategic goals and objectives. Among the areas examined will be opportunities for increased receipts from stewardship activities to augment budgetary resources, and revenue generating mechanisms to take advantage of those opportunities.
Evidence: In 1984, a blue ribbon panel prepared "An Evaluation of U.S. Army Natural Resource Management Programs on Selected Military Installations and Civil Works Projects." Findings included: demands for available natural resources were increasing substantially; soil erosion is a major challenge; there should be clear authority to intensively manage natural resources for public purposes; and the Corps should develop and maintain natural resource management plans that are based on current inventories. A survey of this scope is warranted. In addition he Corps has data, much of it related to its recreation program, that is relevant in assessing program performance. E.g. the 2004 overall ACSI score for the Corps was 75 as compared to a federal government aggregated average of 72.1. One of four primary study components is the quality of Corps-managed lands and waters. The study reveals that a key driver of visitor satisfaction is the perceived quality of lands and waters at Corps projects.
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: Budget-linked Environment-Stewardship objectives include: assure compliance with environmental mandates and legal requirements; protect and preserve cultural resources; ensure healthy and sustainable natural resources conditions; and balance public uses of natural resources. The associated performance measures are discussed in section 2.3.
Evidence: The FY07 budget includes initial and incremental analyses based on factors such as: compliance with environmental protection mandates, meeting annual mitigation requirements, Endangered Species Act activities, other mandated responsibilities for operation and safety, preventing or mitigating adverse impacts to cultural and historical resources, managing for health and sustainability, conducting Level One Natural Resources Inventories, and updating Master Plans.
Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?
Explanation: The Environment-Stewardship Program is part of a comprehensive, holistic strategic planning effort that includes the Army Strategic Plan, the USACE Strategic Plan, the Civil Works Strategic Plan, and annual Corps Stewardship Advisory Team strategic planning efforts. The strategic planning efforts focus on providing guidelines and goals to help ensure that program managers implement policies that are consistent nation-wide. In addition, the Corps proposes to have an independent entity undertake a program evaluation for the Environment-Stewardship program, to address program management practices including mechanisms to increase receipts.
Evidence: The Stewardship Advisory Team (SAT) consists of members of the Stewardship Community of Practice. This team conducts Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analyses to determine future needs and recommends strategic goals and performance measures for the national program. Stewardship Program needs identified by the SAT such as budget-linked performance measurement and inventory techniques are addressed by pursuing targeted research and development through the Stewardship Support Team (SSP), Ecosystem Management and Restoration Research Program (EMRRP) , the Aquatic Plant Control Research Program (APCRP), and additional R&D programs managed by the Corps of Engineers Research & Development Center (ERDC).
|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: Improvements in collecting performance information were initiated in 2004. Measures include those used for upward reporting and those used internally to improve program assessment and management.
Evidence: Historical performance measures include: percent of ESA recovery opportunities taken, the percent of Corps-administered mitigation lands meeting requirements in the authorizing legislation or authorization decision document, annual reforestation acreage, and the percent of corrected environmental compliance findings. Measures added in 2005 include those associated with Level One inventories and Master Plans discussed in section 2.3.
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: Yes. Annual performance assessments are performed on Natural Resources Management (NRM) employees such as biologists, foresters, park rangers, lake managers and project managers. Operations Project Mangers (OPM) are responsible for program cost, schedule and performance results. For each, senior leaders annually establish performance goals and objectives that are in accord with and further the national program performance goals, and that are within the specific project authorities. Through annual performance evaluations, OPM are held accountable for effectively and efficiently accomplishing program results. Partner outgrants are assessed by a combination of Operations and Real Estate personnel. Outgrant partners are responsible for correcting deficiencies and problems that occur on outgranted lands. Annual reviews are conducted of activities under the outgrant agreement and procedures are in place to revoke outgrants that do not comply. 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). Outgrant partners such as those managing Federal and State fish and wildlife areas are assessed on their lease and license compliance as part of the annual compliance inspection program.
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 Environment-Stewardship 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 System (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 Environment-Stewardship Program, is included in the Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL), 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 carryover of funds to succeeding FY's.
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 is developing efficiency measures (needed to answer this question affirmatively) during 2006.In the meantime, the Corps is using 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 program management. A combination of partnering and outsourcing is used to manage for healthy and sustainable lands while providing recreation opportunities.
Evidence: The Corps of Engineers Financial Management System (CEFMS), the primary financial tracking tool used across the Corps, promotes efficient financial management practies. It is linked to the Project Management automated information system (P2) and to the Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL). OMBIL allows comparisons across the Environment-Stewardship Program, and ESBEST is an interim performance reporting tool. 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 Environment-Stewardship Program. E-Government initiatives, which are designed to improve efficiency and effectiveness and in which the Corps has played a leadership role include: Recreation 1-Stop (including the NRRS), Volunteer.gov and Partnerships.gov. Environmental information systems developed by the Corps to transfer technology include: Aquatic Plant Information System, Ecosystem Management and Restoration Information System, Noxious and Nuisance Plant Management Information System, and Zebra Mussel Information System. Models used for improving water resources project design and operation include models for: reservoirs, water quality, rivers, estuaries, coasts, wetlands, and contaminants. 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, collaborates and coordinates effectively in a variety of Stewardship coordination activities involving government, private sector, and nonprofit organizations.
Evidence: Effective collaboration occurs with: Recreation 1-Stop (including Recreation.gov and NRRS), monthly Partnership Council, Management Board of the Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Joint Venture, National Association of State Park Directors, National Recreation & Park Association, National Association of Interpretation, Partners Outdoors, American Recreation Coalition, TEAM Partnership, Partners in Flight, Watchable Wildlife, State Directors of Natural Resources, and the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, among others. This collaboration has resulted in numerous joint initiatives such as NRRS, National Public Lands Day, and National Fishing Week, among others. Many Corps projects also cooperate with state governments to establish environmental and recreational downstream water flows. Research and development collaboration includes Cooperative Research and Development Agreements for joint R&D, Patent license agreements, Technical Assistance Agreements, and Educational Partnering Agreements. Corps participation and collaboration with other programs contribute to the accomplishment of management goals and related performance results that would normally be beyond the fiscal capability of the Corps to complete on its own. For example, organized volunteer efforts in support of National Public Lands Day contribute to habitat sustainability improvements through activities such as tree planting, fish habitat improvement, bird counts, and lakeshore clean up activities. TEAM Partnership is a collaborative effort between federal agencies that allows the Corps to obtain essential assessment tools at a reduced cost that support the annual environmental compliance assessments of Corps projects and facilities. The Corps also collaborates in joint planning documents with other agencies such as the USFWS in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. A cooperative agreement was signed to develop internal and joint reporting and coordination procedures to address the need for protecting and managing wetland habitat of importance to waterfowl and other wildlife. The plan also designates joint venture areas to further the formation of partnerships between state and Federal government and private organizations to develop and implement more effective and efficient conservation and restoration projects in habitat areas of major concern.
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 section 3.4 to track financial performance. CEFMS is a real-time tracking tool. We are in a challenging postition in that our Environment-Stewardship 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 U.S. Army financial audit. Although committed to achieving an unqualified audit opinion, we have been unable to do so because of difficulties in areas outside the purview of the stewardship 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 in 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 that were recently reviewed include: status of inventoried lands, Master Plan compliance, Geographic Information System use, shoreline management, challenge partnerships, and others. The Environmental Review Guide for Operations Program (ERGO) is used to check for environmental sustainability and environmental compliance. Regarding section 3.6, the Corps expects to complete Balance Sheet corrective actions by 30 September 2005, and is working with DOD IG to correct the remaining material weakness, namely, system security.
|Section 3 - Program Management||Score||72%|
|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.
Evidence: Accomplishments for 2004 toward long-term goals include 92% of mitigation acres meeting requirements.Performance results over the last 5 years for meeting mitigation requirements (i.e. FY00 - 77%, FY01-78%, FY02 - 79%, FY03 - 91%, FY04 - 92%) have shown steady improvement. These results show a high level of national achievement for meeting this statutory requirement. FY05 performance results data for all current performance measures are incomplete and require extensive quality assurance due to the implementation of a new reporting system in FY05. As a result, performance data for FY05 is incomplete at this time.
Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?
Explanation: Partners such as managers of Federal and State fish and wildlife areas, and entities such as Ducks Unlimited, B.A.S.S., National Wild Turkey Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and local sportsman's groups are essential to fulfilling goals of the Environment-Stewardship Program. For environmental compliance, the Corps places high priority on eliminating the immediate threat by the end of the fiscal year when the environmental finding cannot be completely corrected. Once budget decisions are made, annual program performance goals are set to reflect the budget that has been made available.
Evidence: Examples of how partners have contributed to healthy and sustainable lands and waters and improving program efficiency include: 46 fish and wildlife leases covering almost 200,000 acres; 231 fish and wildlife licenses covering over 900,000 acres; 44 permits covering over 105,000 acres; 12 consents covering over 7,300 acres, and another 110,000 acres covered by additional agreements such as those for state management. In addition, approximately 100,000 acres have been reforested; approximately 1.7 million acres are included in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan; 8 areas are designated as Important Birding Areas; 40 areas are listed as state Watchable Wildlife Areas, and over 10,000 acres have been treated for invasive species. An example of benefits received from partnering with Ducks Unlimited include DU contributing over 14,000 plants valued at $43,000 to help restore wetland areas at Raystown Lake, PA, and contributing bottomland hardwood restoration surveys and an electric pump valued at $10,000 at Lake Dardanelle, AR. More partnering success stories may be found at: http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/partners/action.cfm. Additional baseline data used to gauge our annual performance will be collected in 2005 for: Level 1 inventories, Master Plan compliance, mitigation requirements, and gauging levels of health and sustainability.
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 currently available 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. The quality and diversity of information collected in OMBIL has been significantly improved. Targeted incremental budget initiatives and a proposed methodology for improving stewardship efficiencies will assist in this effort. ESBEST, an online tool for capturing stewardship performance and costs is being deployed in 2005. This program, coupled with the OMBIL modifications, will assist us in making efficiency comparisons across the Corps. The Stewardship Advisory Team is integrated vertically and horizontally and will continue to provide strategic guidance. "Good Enough to Share" best practices are shared on the NRM Gateway, and the Corps' R&D program addresses key development and management challenges associated with water-resources projects.
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 with the condition of lands and waters. Informal comparisons are available via multiple interagency initiatives. Additional benchmarking information is needed to compare Environment-Stewardship performance with similar providers, but it is challenging to make comparisons between agencies with different missions, objectives, and requirements. Numerous Corps research aids relative to environmental stewardship, restoration, and protection are used nationally and globally.
Evidence: Informal comparisons are available via collaborative partnerships discussed in section 3.5. The Corps online Aquatic Plant Information System is used by the Interagency Invasive Species Task Force. See www.invasivespecies.gov/databases/apdb.shtml . The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) endorses Corps water quality models. See www.epa.gov/waterscience/wqm/. EPA has also endorsed The Environmental Assessment Manual (TEAM) used by the Corps for environmental compliance assessments. The Corps Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Guidelines are used by three federal agencies; the Corps is the international leader for wetlands classification; and the Corps' ERDC is the lead federal laboratory for developing control strategies for a range of nuisance aquatic species. See www.usace.army.mil/inet/functions/cw/hot_topics/corps_aids_steward.htm for additional examples of Corps stewardship-related research aids used by others.
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; using Corps customer comment cards to assess visitor satisfaction, and a 1984 blue ribbon panel evaluation. The Department of Defense Inspector General reviewed the Portland District's environmental compliance assessment process in 2003.
Evidence: The Corps contracts for the annual ACSI (partnership with the University of Michigan School of Business, American Society for Quality and CFI) survey. Following a blue ribbon panel natural resources management assessment in 1984, the Corps initiated several changes including: updating NRM regulations; developing Operational Management Plans; seeking additional recreation use fee authority; and standardizing inventory procedures. The IG 2003 report resulted in issuing nationwide guidance for improving completion of environmental compliance assessments.
|Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability||Score||33%|