Institute for Water Resources

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Posted 1/29/2016

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ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA.   In late 2015, Dutch Rijkswaterstaat employee and PIANC member Mr. Arjan Hijdra, switched agencies temporarily when he came to the United States for four weeks at the Institute for Water Resources of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The purpose of his visit was to collect and share knowledge in the field of Performance Management. In other words, how to maximize the performance of waterways using the least resources. Just like Rijkswaterstaat, the USACE continually tries to optimize the performance of the waterways. Key questions included ‘how to ensure minimum service levels are achieved’ and ‘how maximized societal value can be realized.’ Both organizations have limited resources to meet these goals, so everything revolves around smart choices.

USACE’s Value to the Nation At Rijkswaterstaat this optimization process is called 'Performance Management,' and is a task of the institute of Water, Traffic and Environment. Currently the system of Performance Management is being improved and expanded. The US Army Corps of Engineers is working on similar issues. Their efforts of continuously steering and improving performance fall under the umbrella name of 'Value to the Nation’.  One of the major differences, Mr. Hijdra noticed, was that Rijkswaterstaat works with a tight rein on solid performance levels where the USACE focuses on a mix of measures in order to contribute maximally to the socio-economic and political needs. Where Rijkswaterstaat reports on whether agreed performance levels are achieved or not, in the American context the achievements are, where possible, monetized. The average economic value over the past years was $110 billion (Value to the Nation, National Fast Facts 2010-2013). However, yearly spending is restricted roughly to $8 billion dollars per year. Not a bad achievement at all!

Methods behind Performance Management One mission of Mr. Hijdra’s visit was to learn about the tools and methods that are used by the USACE in order to optimize the performance of the network in an attempt to provide clarity on issues such as: how to determine network quality, how to measure it, how to make choices, and how to divide up limited resources.  The time spent at IWR proved to be advantageous because lessons learned were more valuable when viewed within their context and could easily be converted into a product for disseminating the information. Moreover, numerous 'accidental' learning points were also gathered concurrently based on various discussions and presentations that occurred during his visit.

Cooperation US Army Corps of Engineers and Rijkswaterstaat Mr. Hijdra’s visit to the United States was part of an existing eleven year cooperation program between the US Army Corps of Engineers and Rijkswaterstaat. A joint steering committee annually identifies themes and issues that have mutual interest. For more information on the above topic please contact

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