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Posted 1/10/2014

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ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Conflict Resolution & Public Participation Center of Expertise (CPCX) recently celebrated its fifth year anniversary. CPCX staff at  the Institute for Water Resources (IWR) Washington, D.C. area  offices were joined telephonically by CPCX affiliates from around the country to review the past five years and plans for the next five years. The “birthday party” was part of a series of events that began during the Center’s fifth year that will include USACE Division workshops and the development of a new five-year strategic plan.

The CPCX was established to assist USACE staff to anticipate, prevent and manage water conflicts in efforts to ensure the public’s interests are addressed by USACE decision making.  Since its establishment five years ago, the CPCX has provided technical assistance and training to USACE Divisions and Districts as well as other stakeholders on collaborative processes, facilitation, public involvement, risk communication and collaborative modeling. 

In the past year, the CPCX engaged in several efforts to increase the success of collaborative and participatory processes for USACE conducted activities by providing consultation, facilitation and collaboration support for projects and initiatives in Hawaii and Iowa, Shared Vision Planning for integrated regional water management in California, and participatory planning in the Mekong Basin.  Additionally, the center identified lessons learned in risk communication and supported multi-stakeholder visioning as part of superstorm Sandy recovery efforts.

Training has also been a major focus of the center, with continued in-person, distance and blended training for USACE and its partners in public involvement, facilitation, risk communication, conflict resolution, Engaging Socially Vulnerable Communities, and Shared Vision Planning.

“It’s really rewarding to see how much we’ve accomplished over the last five years,” CPCX Director Dr. Hal Cardwell said. “We’ve developed and delivered multiple trainings, assisted with developing Corps policy, significantly impacted improvements in risk communication, connected hundreds of Corps staff through a robust Community of Practice, and provided technical assistance on dozens of projects across the country and across the business areas of the Corps,” he added.

CPCX continues to support USACE Districts with charette facilitation and training support. Additionally, the center assisted USACE Headquarters in revising Engineering Regulations, Engineering Circulars, Technical Notes and other statements of USACE doctrine relevant to conflict resolution and public participation, and created an internal lessons learned database of case studies on USACE Collaboration.

“With all we’ve accomplished, I’m even more excited about what lies ahead in the next five years as we make more progress in making the Corps a ‘collaboration machine,’” Dr. Cardwell said. 

Future initiatives of the CPCX include the development and support of Public Involvement Specialists at the USACE Division and District level to provide project-level assistance in public participation and collaborative processes, among others.