US Army Corps of Engineers
Institute for Water Resources

News Story Manager

New USACE Report – Value to the Nation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Programs

Published Aug. 8, 2019
Cover for Value to the National of USACE Civil Works Program

Cover for Value to the National of USACE Civil Works Program

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA.   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Institute for Water Resources (IWR) recently released a report entitled Value to the Nation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Programs: Estimates of National Economic Development (NED) Benefits and Revenues to the U.S. Treasury for 2010-2015.

Each year USACE prepares a budget to carry out its water resources mission; this report provides estimates of the value to the nation produced by USACE carrying out that mission. More specifically, the report estimates the value to the nation produced by several USACE Civil Works programs – Flood Risk Management, Navigation, Hydropower, Water Supply and Recreation – for fiscal years 2010 through 2015. The value of these programs is expressed in terms of each program’s contributions to national economic development (NED) benefits and revenues to the U.S. Department of the Treasury (U.S. Treasury). Contributions to NED benefits are increases in the value of the national output of goods and services expressed in monetary units. To generate estimates of net return, the analysis compares NED benefits to the budget for each Civil Works program. Contributions to the U.S. Treasury revenues are the increases in tax payments and direct payments for vendible outputs (such as hydropower) plus the decreases in expenditures and assistance payments that accrue to the U.S. Treasury because of these USACE Civil Works programs.

This report is an update to previous Value to the Nation reports. The original Value to the Nation report was published in 1997, and updates to that report were published in 2003 and 2013. Where feasible, this report improves upon the methodologies used in the most recent report. Changes from past methodology are explained in the text of the report. Estimates are updated yearly and published online at The summary results of this report are shown in the table. Monetary values reflect FY 2015 dollars and are considered to be order of magnitude numbers. It is estimated that on average, between FY 2010 to FY 2015, the USACE Civil Works program provided an annual total net NED benefit of approximately $97 billion, and about $34 billion in returns to the U.S. Treasury.

Additionally, this report was completed alongside IWR Report 2018-R-03, Estimating USACE Capital Stock, 1928 to 2016. Both reports inform the public that past investments and management efforts produced positive effects, but the capital upon which it is based is deteriorating.  The value of capital peaked in the 1980s and has since been declining over many years.  During the past five years, the value of produced by USACE Civil Works programs has been fairly stable.  If capital value had been maintained, it is likely that the NED benefits and revenues generated could have been greater.  In addition, further capital deterioration could (1) jeopardize existing value provided due to infrastructure failures, and (2) cause increased maintenance costs, both of which could reduce future net NED benefits and revenues generated to the Treasury. 

This Value to the Nation report shows the current positive effects of the USACE’s infrastructure capital and annual efforts to manage it.  Today’s infrastructure capital value is the result of past investments, capital re-nourishment in the form of major rehabilitations & dredging, and productivity deterioration (assuming routine maintenance).   The audience of this report extends to interested parties, both internal and external to USACE. The results are used to highlight to Congress and interested stakeholders the value the USACE Civil Works programs have been able to provide given available funding.