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The budget includes a total of $3.9 billion in 2002 for the Corps of Engineers Civil Works (Corps) program. This is a $0.6 billion, or 14 percent, reduction from the high level of funding provided in 2001 for this program ($4.5 billion), and a $0.2 billion (five percent) reduction from 2000 ($4.1 billion), which was a more typical funding level for the Corps over recent years. In allocating Corps funds, the budget gives priority to projects and programs that provide significant national benefits in the Corps' principal mission areas commercial navigation, flood damage reduction, and environmental restoration and enhancement.
Given the large backlog of funding needed to complete construction projects already underway ($21 billion), the budget focuses on completing ongoing projects, rather than starting construction of new projects that would add to this backlog and increase delays in completing ongoing projects. The budget also redirects funds from 2001 congressional add-ons that are inconsistent with established policies. In the operation and maintenance program, it gives priority to funding port and harbor and inland waterway activities that support significant commercial navigation. Funds are redirected from lower-priority activities, such as recreational harbors and low commercial-use inland waterway segments. For the Mississippi River and Tributaries program, the budget targets funds to high priority flood damage reduction projects, which are located on the mainstem of the Mississippi River and in the Atchafalaya River basin (Louisiana), and redirects funds away from ongoing projects that are not economically justified, are environmentally damaging, or violate other established policies.
In recent years, the Army and the Corps of Engineers headquarters significantly reduced their project-specific oversight of the Corps' project planning process. Serious questions have been raised about the quality, objectivity, and credibility of Corps reports on the economic and environmental feasibility of proposed water projects. A recent Army Inspector General (IG) investigation found strong indications that an institutional bias might extend throughout the Corps in favor of large-scale construction projects, which "created an atmosphere where objectivity in [the Corps'] analyses was placed in jeopardy." The Army and its Corps of Engineers have taken steps to start to address these concerns, including clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and the Chief of Engineers. In addition, the ability of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works to review Corps of Engineers planning reports and oversee the Corps' planning process will be strengthened. The Administration is evaluating additional steps, including the need for independent review of Corps planning reports involving controversial or costly projects.
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