News Story Manager

USACE Doubles Its Use of Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution Measures

Published April 21, 2016
Harvey Hill facilitates the San Antonio Multi-Hazard Tournament (September 2015)

Harvey Hill facilitates the San Antonio Multi-Hazard Tournament (September 2015)

Alexandria, Va.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) increased its use of third-party Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution (ECCR) in 2015, reporting 29 specific uses as well as a significant number of non-third-party collaborative efforts across all USACE divisions and mission areas. 

This was a significant increase from the 15 uses reported in 2013 and 2014.  The volume and breadth of non-third-party collaborative efforts were also significant with many efforts noted in both the Navigation and Regulatory business lines.  Interesting to note were the six priority, or emerging, areas of conflict and cross-cutting challenges in USACE:  Water Security, Statutory Requirements and Federal Law, Native American Cultural Sites, Climate Change, National Historic Preservation Act, and In-stream Flows.

The USACE Collaboration & Public Participation Center of Expertise (CPCX), located at the Institute for Water Resources (IWR) collected and summarized the uses of ECCR across the agency, including both third-party and non-third-party collaboration and conflict resolution efforts.  The USACE 10th Annual ECCR Report (Report) was then coordinated across HQ-USACE, the Division Liaisons, and the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works).

Given the success of third party facilitation, the Report highlighted a Norfolk District Regulatory action regarding proposed aerial electric transmission lines.  By enlisting a facilitator, the District was able to effectively communicate its requirements while stakeholders helped USACE better understand their interests in the project. This effort has fostered better relationships with stakeholders which has allowed the process to move forward in ways it otherwise may not have been able.  Notable advances by all Divisions in the use of ECCR were captured in the Report.

The annual assessment also helps CPCX gauge interest in training courses and direct assistance.  Divisions and Districts identified eligible staff to participate in the Environmental Conflict Resolution Certification Program with US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, suggested developmental assignments to or from CPCX, suggested additions to the USACE facilitator database, and gave suggested topics for webinars.

Documenting the costs and benefits of ECCR continues to be a challenge for the agency, as confirmed by the responses from the field. Thus, future work is needed to capture and quantify the benefits of ECCR to demonstrate the power and effectiveness of its use in those government programs that affect the public. 

The annual ECCR report is required by the 2012 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) joint memorandum on Environmental Collaboration and Conflict ResolutionThis 2012 memorandum supersedes and broadens the original OMB/CEQ 2005 joint memorandum on Environmental Conflict Resolution by explicitly encouraging appropriate and effective upfront environmental collaboration to minimize or prevent conflict.