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Dr. Delli Priscoli’s Legacy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Published Oct. 28, 2016
Jerry Delli Priscoli retirement cake

Jerry Delli Priscoli retirement cake

Dr. Delli Priscoli facilitating community responses to Fukushima Disaster in Japan. (9/20/2015)

Dr. Delli Priscoli facilitating community responses to Fukushima Disaster in Japan. (9/20/2015)

Dr. Delli Priscoli leading classes with Township students in Johannesburg, South Africa, for USAID.

Dr. Delli Priscoli leading classes with Township students in Johannesburg, South Africa, for USAID.

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA.   On July 13, 2016, colleagues and friends gathered in honor of Dr. Jerome (Jerry) Delli Priscoli’s retirement from 41 years of government service. At the forefront of national and international public policy concerning water, Delli Priscoli served as a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources. Dr. Delli Priscoli is a skilled mediator and facilitator on the international circuit. He is recognized as a world leader in conflict management, water resources policy and governance, and water security. 


A look back on Dr. Delli Priscoli tells a story of a career devoted to international water issues and environmental ethics. In 1995, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program, created by Delli Priscoli, received the first Hammer award for efficiency in government from Vice President Gore. Dr. Delli Priscoli is also the recipient of the 2005 Icko Iben award for achievement in cross disciplinary communications in water, which is presented annually by the American Water Resources Association (AWRA). He has worked extensively with the World Bank, UNESCO, WHO, and many other international organizations. As a principal advocate of the USACE transformation toward open administration, Delli Priscoli was ahead of his time in many respects. 

During his time with USACE, Delli Priscoli was involved in several multilateral negotiations concerning water resources. Delli Priscoli was honored to be part of the founding of the World Water Council (WWC), the World Water Forums, and to design and run the process that created the Global Water Partnership (GWP) at the time. These activities in turn led to significant engagements of the USACE Chiefs, ASA’s and senior executives in fora where USACE contributed its vast experiences while learning from others in dealing with water resources worldwide.



Just because Dr. Delli Priscoli is retiring from federal service does not mean he is stopping, or even slowing down.  In fact, he has been doing a lot of thinking about the past and future of the Army Corps of Engineers.  For instance, for the past 200 years the USACE has been a public development agency of the continent. According to Delli Priscoli, the historic role of USACE in developing the U.S. needs to be highlighted, and the Corps’ role for a path forward must shift to sharing in the design of the countries’ future. The ideological attacks against development take for granted our level of current development, safety in times of storms and droughts, and the ease at which commerce moves through our ports and inland waterways. As the Corps looks to a future with much less development, the agency role should look to build on our diverse staff of engineers, scientists, and social scientists. 

The history of the Corps is interlinked with the history of the United States. A reflection on the Corps history showcases what people in this country have done together as the key to unlock a shared solution for the future. The Corps could lead in the discussion of a collective design of our home with the process linked to the notion of adaptive management. In order to move toward adaptive management, new ways of budget management must be explored and understanding the co-designed end product will be necessary. The issues associated with climate variability provide opportunities for USACE to assert leadership by proactively addressing the anxieties and fears being raised in the water community. It is a hugely important issue to maintain a shared vision in preparation of the predicted floods, droughts, and other water issues.

 Another way the Corps can assert leadership is through the National Security Council due to their increasing focus on water security. An indicator of success would be a discussion, even if brief, of water in both the domestic and international security strategy. In addition, by continuing to build on international water development and management efforts, the Corps maintains productive dialogues in the arena of water diplomacy. Lastly, Delli-Priscoli advises the continued use of alternative dispute resolution in solving high level disputes. Personalities can make or break negotiations and the need for people who are willing to look at issues from different perspectives is essential for seeing alternative options for the future.  

Upon retirement, Dr. Delli Priscoli assumed the position of Chair of the Technical Committee of the Global Water Partnership (GWP).

 From the USACE family – Congratulations and Good Luck Jerry! 

Learn More

For more information, visit IWR

Click here to view Dr. Delli Priscoli’s resumé.

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