ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA. The current U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Civil Works infrastructure represents a substantial investment of the nation’s resources and delivers daily benefits to almost every U.S. household, ranging from waterborne transportation to hydroelectric power, and recreational opportunities to flood protection. As the infrastructure USACE operates ages, it often becomes more difficult and more expensive to maintain to meet performance goals, and to efficiently provide the economic and environmental benefits for which it was designed and constructed.
A recently published Institute for Water Resources (IWR) report examines the way USACE manages its water infrastructure assets within this context. The report, “Best Practices in Asset Management,” evaluates available sources of information regarding asset management practices, including those from other agencies in the United States and international agencies. The document identifies candidates for best practices in asset management that could be adapted for use by USACE.
According to the report, USACE is currently using a multi-faceted approach to continue to enable the citizens of the U.S. to receive benefits from infrastructure investments. This approach includes the following efforts:
- Determining what value each project provides to the nation by defining the value to the nation (VTN) concept from each project in the USACE Civil Works infrastructure.
- Determining if local government, state, or private organizations might be better stewards of some assets.
- Utilizing a comprehensive, best-practices asset management approach to provide the most cost effective operations and maintenance of those assets that remain with USACE.
- Determining which items must continue to be supported, and which, based on their value, may no longer be supported by USACE.
In considering USACE asset management practices, the report suggests the USACE approach is the strongest of any U.S. federal agency and incorporates many best practices, including compliance with international requirements and preparation for alignment with additional international standards. However, while USACE has a strong program, the report makes several suggestions for improvement.
The report suggests that USACE should continue efforts to define project performance levels, incorporate demand modeling, and take additional steps to prepare for and remain in line with international standards. In the coming months, USACE plans to publish a secondary document that details how to implement the suggested practices from the report. The full report is available on the IWR website.