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GAO slaps Corps of Engineers for faulty planning study actions

GAO slaps Corps of Engineers for faulty planning study actions

   A congressional watchdog agency said four Army Corps of Engineers civil works projects, which it recently evaluated, were “fraught with errors, mistakes, and miscalculations, and used invalid assumptions and outdated data.”

   The Government Accountability Office found that these Corps’ program studies “understated costs and overstated benefits, and therefore did not provide a reasonable basis for decision-making.”

   With the Delaware Deepening Project, for example, the GAO found credible support for only $13.3 million a year in project benefits, compared with the $40.1 million annually claimed by the Corps.

   The GAO also questioned Corps’ internal review procedures to detect study program discrepancies.

   In addition, the GAO said the Corps relies on reprogramming funds as needed for planning studies. “While this just-in-time reprogramming approach can provide funds rapidly to projects that have unexpected needs, it has also resulted in many unnecessary and uncoordinated movements of funds, sometimes for reasons that are inconsistent with the Corps’ own guidance,” the GAO said.

   To carry out its civil works programs, the Corps received more than $5 billion annually for fiscal 2005 and 2006.

   During the past four years, GAO has issued five reports related to the Corps’ civil works program. Four of these reports focused on the planning studies for specific Corps projects and actions, which included a review of the cost and benefit analysis used to support the project decisions. The fifth report focused on the Corps’ management of civil works appropriation accounts.

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