Rationale for CPCX
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) now require U.S. Government agencies to report yearly on their use of environmental conflict resolution, collaboration, and participation processes in achieving their mission. Conflict resolution and public participation are central skills for achieving promised goals of the USACE Civil Works Program. They are embedded in the 2011-2015 Civil Works strategic plan (pdf, 1.7 MB), environmental principles, watershed approaches and principles of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). USACE national listening sessions repeatedly call for increased USACE use of these tools.
In 2008, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works J.P. Woodley stressed that: “We will broaden our collaboration with others to enhance the chances of balancing water uses and making wise investments and trade-offs decisions.”
The Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget on August 15, 2007 encouraged federal agencies to align programs with “A Strategy for Federal Science and Technology to Support U.S. Water Availability and Quality" (pdf, 3.11 MB) that cites the development of “Collaborative Tools and Processes for U.S. Water Solutions” (pdf, 43 KB) as one of the seven elements to address water challenges that face the U.S.
Today USACE professionals must routinely manage multiple demands by multiple stakeholders, some of which conflict. Watershed stakeholders must jointly define problems and solutions. USACE is moving to adopt environmental conflict resolution, collaboration, and participation tools and techniques in its programs and business processes such as:
- 2006-2008 GE funded watershed studies
- Coastal America
- Regional sediment management
- Section 729 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, in which Congress authorized the Corps to study water resources needs of river basins and regions
- Increased use of General and Area-wide permitting
- Shared Vision Planning program
- Negotiated operating plans
- New models for the Everglades, CalFed, Coastal Louisiana and others
Despite these realities, the USACE field knowledge and use of tools and processes relating to environment conflict resolution, collaboration and participation is sporadic and uneven (Langton 1994). There is no easy USACE portal for the field to access best practices, relevant USACE cases, and to get help in designing approaches and training in these skills that are increasingly central to business processes. Few formal systems for using Environmental Conflict Resolution, collaboration and participation exist in USACE, and none of USACE current field commanders have formal training in using these central techniques. The USACE field is asking for help in learning how to use these skills, especially Civil Works permitting, training, one-stop help sites, Corps case examples, updated regulations and doctrine, and budgeting and funding the activities.
The CPCX will be an authoritative source for senior Corps leaders, government agencies, civilian, and international leaders from related industries to study and confer on the tactical application of water resource management and conflict resolution, providing a forum and research facility in response to the needs and concerns mentioned above.