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Planning Associates

Planning Associates Program: Growing as leaders, Serving with Integrity, Planning Solutions
Growing as leaders, Serving with Integrity,
Planning Solutions

About the Program

The Planning Associates Program is a year-long advanced training opportunity in water resources planning designed to broaden planners' competencies in solving complex water resources problems and challenges, and to strengthen their technical and professional leadership talents.  Each year, a new class is selected and immediately begins an intense year of learning about the USACE Civil Works business lines, team leadership, the planning process and the broader picture of the services USACE team members provide to the nation.

In light of Civil Works Transformation, Planning Modernization and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Risk Informed, Timely) Planning initiatives, the program took on a new dimension in 2013.  Courses for the Planning Associates program and Planners Core Curriculum classes were revamped in order to integrate SMART Planning into each of the mission areas.


The Planning Associates Program is intended to provide the quality training that is inherent in an effective learning organization. The curriculum is rich in team building and team leadership training; experiential training in USACE Civil Works business programs; case studies, individual and group projects and activities; communications and presentation techniques; and networking opportunities with leaders in Districts, MSCs, HQUSACE, and other Army, Administration, Congressional, and public and private water resource interest groups. There are approximately 20 courses delivered in 1-3 week TDY periods spread over 11 months. A preliminary schedule of activities, which is subject to change, is at Exhibit 1.


This is a challenging program requiring stamina and flexibility by the participants, their families, and their home office staff. The Planning Associates Program temporary duty (TDY) periods are long and rigorous, often going more than 12 hours a day, and require weekend work during the multiple week sessions. In addition to the course workload, the PAs are also working on their required individual and team products.


We understand the challenges you in the home office face during the PA program, but you can turn this management challenge into a developmental bonus, A number of supervisors and Commanders in the last 14 classes have supported the planning associates with able backups, using the planning associate’s absence as a developmental assignment opportunity for less experienced employees. We expect this practice will be the norm in this and future years.


The typical planning associates class is a demographically diverse, multi-disciplinary team of high potential GS-11 and GS-12 District employees with 5-10 years of current planning experience who would most benefit from participating in the program. Individuals with more than 10 years may be considered by exception. Successful applicants must demonstrate a passion for planning, a record of accomplishment in the planning function, and a desire to use what they will learn in future career challenges. The planning associates’ home offices will, as well, receive immediate benefit from the PAs’ experiences by way of home office back briefs following each course session. These briefings will transmit the latest information on policies and procedures employed in other offices Corps-wide.