Prioritization Myths vs. Facts
MYTH: Extensive prioritization system already in place in project selection and OMB budgeting process.
FACT: If we have a prioritization system in place, Congress and the public do not know the factors or justification for the priorities that are purportedly established. Considering that Congress adds hundreds of projects to the Corps budget every fiscal year, it is also clear that Congress does not think much of existing system.
MYTH: McCain-Feingold amendment relinquishes Congressional authority to the Executive Branch.
FACT: The prioritization report is informational only * an effort to inform Congress, not dictate spending decisions.
MYTH: Under the McCain-Feingold amendment, smaller projects will lose out.
FACT: The size of the project has no impact on the prioritization system. In fact, this objective system will help find the hidden gems in the Corps project list and highlight their strengths to Congress.
MYTH: Prioritization unfairly singles out the Corps.
FACT: Many federal agencies use prioritization systems for dispersing funds, including the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services.
MYTH: The Inhofe-Bond amendment would establish a prioritization system.
FACT: Their amendment actually would establish an ill-defined “relative rating system,” that does not require any final analysis or ranking. There is no provision to inform Congress of the most important projects.
MYTH: The Inhofe-Bond system would use clear and objective criteria to prioritize projects.
FACT: Criteria have been reverse-engineered to elevate inland navigation projects at the expense of flood and storm damage reduction projects and environmental restoration projects.
MYTH: The Inhofe-Bond amendment would improve upon the existing, inadequate opaque funding process
FACT: A deliberately flawed and skewed prioritization system would be more harmful than the current ineffective one.
MYTH: The McCain-Feingold amendment would chose the winners and losers.
FACT: Establishing clear, transparent criteria to evaluate projects against similar type projects and placing them in broad, ranked tiers, will better inform the public, the Corps and Congress of the nation’s water resource priorities. This system can be used by Congress and the Administration to help set funding priorities. This amendment is simply about transparency.
Independent Peer Review Myths and Facts
MYTH: The Feingold-McCain independent peer review amendment will delay project construction.
FACT: The amendment includes strict deadlines for the panel to report * if they fail to report in the allotted time, the Chief of Engineers is directed to proceed with planning.
MYTH: The Feingold-McCain amendment will require reviews of too many projects.
FACT: The $40 million review trigger will on average subject about 5 projects a year to independent review.
MYTH: The Feingold-McCain amendment gives a handful of experts the right to dictate Corps projects, taking policy decisions away from the Corps.
FACT: Project recommendations remain in the hands of the Chief of Engineers, and Congress retains the ultimate decision regarding whether to authorize a project.
MYTH: The Feingold-McCain amendment will increase project costs.
FACT: Costs associated with independent review are capped and taxpayer watchdog groups strongly support the amendment.
MYTH: The Feingold-McCain amendment will open the door to more litigation.
FACT: The Corps must give serious consideration and review to an independent panel’s findings. If the Corps ignores an independent panel’s recommendation, they have to explain their rationale to a court.
MYTH: The Feingold-McCain independent peer review will apply to already authorized projects.
FACT: The independent peer review applies to projects as they enter the
feasibility stage, not after authorization, at which point the Chief's report is
already complete. If necessary, certain already authorized critical flood control projects will get the benefits of a safety assurance review which will analyze engineering and technical aspects that are not fully defined in the feasibility study.
MYTH: The Feingold-McCain amendment will create a whole new layer of bureaucracy.
FACT: The amendment does not create a bureaucracy; it establishes a workable system to address a very real problem * poorly planned and designed project that put people at risk, unnecessarily damage the environment and waste taxpayer dollars.
MYTH: The Inhofe-Bond amendment would create a system of true independent project review.
FACT: Their amendment makes the Chief of Engineers the final arbiter of whether an independent review will happen at all. The Corps gets to select the reviewers, and there are no criteria at all for ensuring independence of those reviewers. Review is not independent if the Corps has control over whether, how, and who will review projects.