Flood Risk Management Program


Frequently Asked Questions

USACE Flood Risk Management Authorities
 What is the basic difference between USACE and other agencies?

USACE programs are funded on a project basis. There are very few instances where funds can be used that are not tied to specific projects.  Other Federal agencies and most state and local agencies are funded more on a programmatic level, which allows for discretionary use funds.  The way USACE is funded makes it difficult to provide funding for non-project-specific work.  Specific programs are described on this and other frequently asked questions pages.


 What is the USACE Floodplain Management Services (FPMS) Program?

The program's authority stems from Section 206 of the 1960 Flood Control Act (PL 86-645), as amended. Its objective is to foster public understanding of the options for dealing with flood hazards and to promote prudent use and management of the Nation's flood plains. Upon request, program services may be provided to state, regional, and local governments, tribes, and other non-Federal public agencies without charge.  Program services also are offered to non-water resource Federal agencies and to the private sector on a 100 percent cost recovery basis.  Those eligible for ”free” services may choose to voluntarily contribute funds to increase the scope of services.  USACE has the authority to perform certification support work under FPMS but may not actually certify.


 How does an agency, government, organization or interested individual request Floodplain Management Services assistance from USACE?

Agencies, governments, organizations and individuals interested in flood-related information or assistance should contact the appropriate USACE office indicated on the above-referenced website.  Information that is readily available will be provided in response to a telephone request.  A letter request is required for assistance that involves developing new data, making a map or preparing a report. A sample letter request can be provided.


 What are USACE charges for assistance?

Upon request, the program services are provided to state, regional, and local governments; eligible tribes; and other non-Federal public agencies without charge. At their option, these entities may provide voluntary contributions toward requested services to expand the scope or accelerate the provision of those services.

Program services also are offered to non-water resource Federal agencies and to the private sector on a 100 percent cost recovery basis. For most of these requests, payment is required before services are provided. A schedule of charges is used to recover the cost of services that take up to one day to provide. Letter request or signed agreements are used to charge for those that take longer. All requestors are encouraged to furnish available field survey data, maps, historical flood information, etc., to help reduce the cost of services.


 What is the USACE Planning Assistance to States (PAS) Program?

The Planning Assistance to States (PAS) Program is authorized by Section 22 of the 1974 Water Resources Development Act. This program authorizes USACE to use its technical expertise in management of water and related land resources to help states and tribes solve water resource problems. Upon request, USACE will cooperate with non-Federal public sponsors in the preparation of plans for the development, utilization and conservation of water and related land resources located within the boundaries of the state. Assistance is given within the limits of available appropriations, but $2,000,000 is the maximum Federal funding available annually to any state or tribe. A 50-percent cost share is required by the non-Federal sponsor.


 What is the objective of Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management (May 24, 1977)?

Executive Order 11988 requires Federal agencies to avoid to the extent possible the long- and short-term adverse impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of floodplains and to avoid direct and indirect support of floodplain development wherever there is a practicable alternative. In accomplishing this objective, "each agency shall provide leadership and shall take action to reduce the risk of flood loss, to minimize the impact of floods on human safety, health, and welfare, and to restore and preserve the natural and beneficial values served by flood plains in carrying out its responsibilities" for the following actions:

  • acquiring, managing, and disposing of Federal lands and facilities.
  • providing Federally-undertaken, financed, or assisted construction and improvements.
  • conducting Federal activities and programs affecting land use, including but not limited to water and related land resources planning, regulation, and licensing activities.

Engineering Regulation 1165-2-26, Implementation of E.O. 11988 on Floodplain Management 30 March 1984 is located at https://planning.erdc.dren.mil/toolbox/library/PGL/pgl52.pdf (pdf, 26 KB).


 What are the USACE Environmental Operating Principles?

USACE reaffirmed its commitment to the environment by formalizing a set of "Environmental Operating Principles" applicable to all its decisionmaking and programs. These principles foster unity of purpose on environmental issues, reflect a new tone and direction for dialogue on environmental matters, and ensure that employees consider conservation, environmental preservation and restoration in all USACE activities. They are:

  • Strive to achieve environmental sustainability. An environment maintained in a healthy, diverse and sustainable condition is necessary to support life.
  • Recognize the interdependence of life and the physical environment. Proactively consider environmental consequences of USACE programs and act accordingly in all appropriate circumstances.
  • Seek balance and synergy among human development activities and natural systems by designing economic and environmental solutions that support and reinforce one another.
  • Continue to accept corporate responsibility and accountability under the law for activities and decisions under our control that impact human health and welfare and the continued viability of natural systems.
  • Seeks ways and means to assess and mitigate cumulative impacts to the environment; bring systems approaches to the full life cycle of our processes and work.
  • Build and share an integrated scientific, economic, and social knowledge base that supports a greater understanding of the environment and impacts of our work.
  • Respect the views of individuals and groups interested in USACE activities, listen to them actively, and learn from their perspective in the search to find innovative win-win solutions to the nation's problems that also protect and enhance the environment.

The Policy for Implementing and the Integration of the USACE Environmental Operating Principles and Doctrine can be found in ER 200-1-5 can be found at http://www.publications.usace.army.mil/USACEPublications/EngineerRegulations.aspx.


 What is the USACE Civil Emergency Management Program (ER 500-1-1)?

This regulation prescribes policies, processes and procedures for the management and execution of the Civil Emergency Management (CEM) Program of the USACE under the authorities of 33 USC 701n (commonly referred to as Public Law (PL) 84-99); The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.) (The Stafford Act); Army Regulation (AR) 500-60, Disaster Relief; Engineer Regulation (ER) 500-1-1, Civil Emergency Management Program; and ER 1130-2-530, Flood Control Operations and Maintenance Policies. http://www.publications.usace.army.mil/USACEPublications/EngineerRegulations.aspx.


 What is the Inspection of Completed Works (ICW)?

Section 221 of the Flood Control Act of 1970, as amended (84 Stat. 1831, 42 U.S.C. 1962d-5b), requires that a written agreement be executed between the Secretary of the Army and the non-Federal sponsor to identify the “items of local cooperation” for USACE projects, including operation and maintenance of the project. It also authorizes USACE to “undertake performance of those items of cooperation necessary to the functioning of the project for its purposes if USACE had first notified the non-Federal interest of its failure to perform the terms of its agreement and has given such interest a reasonable time after such notification to so perform.” ICW eligible projects are Federally authorized and locally maintained. To determine whether the non-Federal sponsor is performing as it has agreed (i.e., doing required maintenance), USACE undertakes an inspection of the completed projects. Projects that meet inspection criteria are eligible for Federal rehabilitation funds if damaged in a flood event.


 What is the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Program?

The Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) program is direct funded through emergency supplemental appropriations. FCCE funds are used to inspect locally constructed and O&M levee systems that have applied and met criteria to be in the PL 84-99 program.  FCCE projects have an 80/20 cost share requirement.


 What is the PL 84-99 program?

USACE may provide disaster response and support under Public Law (PL) 84-99. A USACE-unique authority, PL 84-99 missions and activities are funded by annual Energy and Water Development Appropriations Acts and, when necessary, emergency supplemental appropriations acts. Under this law, the Chief of Engineers, acting for the Secretary of the Army, is authorized to undertake a number of activities including:

  • Disaster preparedness through all hazards planning (pays the EM staff salaries).
  • Advance measures.
  • Emergency operations (EOC Operations, Flood Response and Post Flood Response).
  • Rehabilitation of flood control works damaged by flood (see RIP).
  • Protection or repair of Federally authorized shore protective works threatened or damaged by coastal storm (see ICW).
  • Provisions of emergency water due to drought or contaminated source (rarely used).
 What is the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (RIP)?

RIP is a program established by USACE that provides for inspections of constructed Federal and non-Federal projects damaged by floods and storms. Financial assistance for levee rehabilitation is limited to repairs or restoration of the project’s pre-disaster condition and level of protection An initial eligibility inspection must be performed by USACE and subsequent maintenance inspections are required.


 What are Project Information Reports (PIR) for Rehabilitation Assistance under PL 84-99?

A PIR is the documentation required to obtain permission and funding to repair ICW or RIP flood control or shore protection projects damaged by an eligible event. PIRs for Rehabilitation Assistance will be prepared in accordance with EP 500-1-1. There are three principle elements of a PIR: the project was damaged by an eligible event, the damage is not routine maintenance, and the benefit-to-cost ratio is greater than 1.0. The approval authority for Rehabilitation Assistance PIRs is the Division Commander. The Division Commander may delegate approval authority to a member of the Senior Executive Service on the division staff or a permanently designated Deputy Division Engineer.


What Are the USACE Civil Works Authorities for Projects?
 What are General Investigations (GI)?

The traditional and most common way for USACE to help a community solve a water resource problem is through individually authorized studies and projects. These types of studies are undertaken in response to a Congressional Resolution from the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation, The Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, or a Public Law. In this program, USACE jointly conducts a study with a non-Federal sponsor and, if shown by the study to be feasible, constructs the project.  This approach requires that Congress provide USACE with authority and funds to first accomplish a feasibility study and, secondly, to construct the project. Local sponsors share the study and construction costs with USACE and usually pay for all operation and maintenance costs. This approach may be used to address any one of a variety of water resource problems, including navigation, flood damage reduction and ecosystem restoration. General Investigations funds studies, design, coordination, data collection, and research and development.


 What is the Reconnaissance Phase?

Initial Reconnaissance (Recon) phase of Feasibility Study has a $100,000 limit and is all Federally funded. The prescribed duration is 12-18 months.  During recon, the following is accomplished:

  1. Determine if the water resource problem(s) warrant Federal participation in feasibility studies. Defer comprehensive review of other problems and opportunities to feasibility studies.
  2. Define the Federal interest based on a preliminary appraisal consistent with Army policies, costs, benefits, and environmental impacts of identified potential project alternatives.
  3. Complete a 905(b) Preliminary Analysis (Reconnaissance Report).
  4. Prepare a Project Management Plan (PMP).
  5. Assess the level of interest and support of non-Federal entities in the identified potential solutions and cost-sharing of feasibility phase and construction. A letter of intent from the local sponsor stating the willingness to pursue the cost shared feasibility study described in the PMP and to share in the costs of construction is required.
  6. Negotiate and execute a Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement (FCSA).

A more detailed discussion may be found at http://www.publications.usace.army.mil/USACEPublications/EngineerRegulations.aspx (ER 1105-2-100, Planning Guidance Notebook).


 What is Feasibility?

This is the second and final phase of a Feasibility Study; costs are shared 50-50 with the non-Federal sponsor, and it concludes with a Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The purpose of the feasibility study is to identify, evaluate and recommend to decision makers an appropriate, coordinated, implementable solution to the identified water resources problems and opportunities. The resulting report should be a complete decision document, referred to as a feasibility report. It presents the results of both study phases (Recon and Feasibility). The report will:

  1. Provide a complete presentation of study results and findings, including those developed in the reconnaissance phase so that readers can reach independent conclusions regarding the reasonableness of recommendation;
  2. Indicate compliance with applicable statutes, executive orders and policies; and
  3. Provide a sound and documented basis for decision makers at all levels to judge the recommended solutions(s).

A more detailed discussion may be found at http://www.publications.usace.army.mil/USACE-Publications/Engineer-Regulations/ (ER 1105-2-100, Planning Guidance Notebook).


 What is Planning Guidance Letter 52, Flood Plain Management Plans (Dec 1997)?

Policy Guidance Letter (PGL) No. 52 provides guidance for implementing Section 202(c) of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996, which requires non-Federal interests to prepare a floodplain management plan designed to reduce the impacts of future flood events in the project area within one year of signing a project partnership agreement (PPA) (formerly project cooperation agreement (PCA)) and to implement the plan not later than one year after completion of construction of the project. Section 202(c) requires USACE to provide guidelines to non-Federal interests for the development and implementation of these floodplain management plans. In addition, this guidance encourages the development of the floodplain management plan by the non-Federal sponsor during the feasibility study by promoting a broader look at gathering information that will be useful to the non-Federal sponsor and which is consistent with the Principles and Guidelines and existing USACE planning guidance.  A link to the PGL is https://planning.erdc.dren.mil/toolbox/library/PGL/pgl52.pdf (pdf, 26 KB).


 What is Construction General (CG)?

The traditional and most common way for USACE to help a community solve a water resource problem is through individually authorized projects. These types of projects are undertaken in response to a completed feasibility study with a Chief of Engineer’s report. If the feasibility is shown to be feasible, Congress authorizes the project to be constructed.  This approach requires that Congress provide USACE authority and funds to construct the project.  Construction General funds project construction and major rehabilitation.


 What is PED?

PED, or Preconstruction Engineering and Design, is the first phase of construction. After a feasibility study is completed, part of the PED phase can be completed while waiting for authority to construct. The phase is complete when the first construction contract is ready to award.


 What is the Continuing Authorities Program (CAP)?

The Continuing Authorities Program provides USACE with the authority to solve water resource problems in partnership with local sponsors. Congress has authorized USACE to plan, design and construct, within specified funding limits, certain types of water resources improvements without specific congressional authorization. This saves much time in development and approval of projects. Cost sharing by a local project sponsor is required for studies, design and construction. A local project sponsor must be a municipality or a legally constituted public body empowered under state laws to give assurances and be financially capable of fulfilling all measures of local cooperation, including, but not limited to, study and construction cost sharing. In the case of Project modification for Improving the Quality of the Environment (Section 1135(b)), private interests may qualify as a non-Federal sponsor if there will be no requirement for future Operation and Maintenance (O&M). As an example, large National non-profit environmental organizations may qualify as sponsor for Section 1135(b).  CAP authorities include:

  • Streambank and Shoreline Erosion Protection of Public Works and Non-Profit Public Services (Section 14, Flood Control Act of 1946, as amended)
  • Beach Erosion and Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction (Section 103, River and Harbor Act of 1962, as amended)
  • Navigation Improvements (Section 107, River and Harbor Act of 1960, as amended)
  • Shore Damage Prevention or Mitigation Caused by Federal Navigation Projects (Section 111, River and Harbor Act of 1968, as amended)
  • Placement of Dredged Material on Beaches (Section 145, Water Resources Development Act of 1976, as amended)
  • Beneficial Use of Dredged Material (Section 204, Water Resources Development Act of 1992, as amended)
  • Flood Control (Section 205, Flood Control Act of 1948, as amended)
  • Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration (Section 206, Water Resources Development Act of 1996, as amended)
  • Snagging and Clearing for Flood Damage Reduction (Section 208, Flood Control Act of 1954, as amended)
  • Project Modifications for Improvement of the Environment (Section 1135(b), Water Resources Development Act of 1986, as amended).


 What is a Post Authorization Change?

The following is a discussion of the types of decision documents that may need to be prepared to support the project cooperation agreement. Once Congress authorizes a study, the reconnaissance and feasibility phases will normally result in a feasibility report and NEPA document. Ideally, this feasibility report is both the authorizing document and the supporting document for the project cooperation agreement. However, this requires the following conditions to be true: that the project cooperation agreement is completed within 3 years of the last approved economic analysis; that changes do not occur between completion of the feasibility report and completion of the project cooperation agreement; and that the project was developed after September 1989. When any of these conditions are not true, the following guidance is provided:

No Change from Feasibility Report. If more than 3 years have elapsed since the last approved economic analysis in a feasibility report, and there are no changes, then a post-authorization decision document, which may be titled as a limited reevaluation report (LRR), is prepared to update the economic analysis to show that the project remains justified. This post-authorization decision document, along with the feasibility report are then used as the basis for a Federal commitment and supporting documents for the project cooperation agreement.

Limited Changes from Feasibility Report. If the project has changed, but not substantially, then a post-authorization decision document, which may also be titled as a limited reevaluation report (LRR) or an engineering documentation report (EDR), is prepared. This situation covers reevaluations where more than an economic update is needed but the changes are within the approval authority of the district commander. The post-authorization decision document may also evaluate the recommended plan for compliance with current policies, criteria, guidelines and incremental justification, and may involve limited changes in economics and/or environmental effects or other technical aspects of the recommended project. The post authorization decision document along with the feasibility report are then used as the basis for a Federal commitment and supporting documents for the project cooperation agreement.

Project Exceeds Maximum Cost Limit. Section 902, of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, as amended, legis­lates a maximum total project cost. Projects to which this limitation applies and for which increases in costs exceed the limitations established by Section 902, as amended, will require further authorization by Congress, raising the maximum cost established for the project. If the current estimate of the project exceeds the maximum cost limit and there are no other substantial changes from the feasibility report, then a post-authorization decision document, which may be titled as a limited reevaluation report (LRR), is prepared as a basis to obtain the required authorization by Congress. In this case, the post-authorization decision document would recommend congressional reauthorization of the project. Pending congressional authorization, the post-authorization decision document along with the feasibility report are then used as the basis for a Federal commitment and supporting documents for the project cooperation agreement.

Significant Changes from Feasibility Report. If a project has changed substantially after authorization, then a post-authorization decision document, which may be titled as a general reevaluation report (GRR), is prepared and used as the supporting document for the project cooperation agreement. Substantial changes are defined as changes that are beyond the district commander's approval authority. The post-authorization document that reformulates a project would be similar to a feasibility report and will contain an engineering appendix, and National Environmental Policy Act documentation. A post-authorization document that reformulates an authorized portion of a project, such as recreation or mitigation features, along with the feasibility study, would be used as the basis for a Federal commitment and supporting documents for the project cooperation agreement. If the Federal share of the total project cost is not greater than $15 million and the changes proposed in the post-authorization decision document are within the Chief of En­gineers' discretionary authority, then the document will be approved by the Division Commander. If reauthorization is necessary, the document will be processed in the same manner as a feasibility report.

Document Titles. Prior USACE guidance has established definitions for limited reevaluation reports (LRR), general reevaluation reports (GRR), engineering documentation reports (EDR) and decision documents, which are all post-authorization decision documents, and the definitions are not mutually exclusive. While the paragraphs above provide criteria that can be used to define these documents, use of these names is not required. While the paragraphs above indicate that an alternate title may be used, each of the documents may be referred to as a post-authorization decision document. This convention would be especially appropriate in cases where the approval authority may change during the development of the document.

A more detailed discussion may be found at http://www.publications.usace.army.mil/USACE-Publications/Engineer-Regulations/ (ER 1105-2-100, Planning Guidance Notebook).