By the early 21st century, IWR researchers believed that the state of the Corps’ planning practices required a thorough review. Therefore, in 2001 IWR created the Planning Improvement Task Force, a panel consisting of members of the Corps planning community who made recommendations on improving agency planning capabilities. The ideas advocated by this task force led to the development of the comprehensive Planning Excellence program.
In support of the Planning Excellence program, IWR has sponsored the Planning Associates (PA) program, which develops leaders who can conduct complex planning studies. IWR has managed the PA Kick-Off Session and the Washington Experience sessions in numerous years since 2002, and, in collaboration with Headquarters, IWR establishes selection criteria for candidates, delivers training sessions, and provides financial and logistical support. IWR has also developed and delivered seven core courses for entry-level planners and created the Planning Community of Practice (CoP) website.
To further the training opportunities available to planners, IWR has worked with the Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) to establish the Advanced Degree Program in Integrated Water Resources Management. This graduate level program is available through a consortium of universities, and it addresses many challenges to the water resources planning and management community. Through these efforts, IWR has achieved the goals of the Planning Improvement Task Force to continually support broad-based training and cutting-edge capabilities for Corps planners.