Flood Risk Management Program


Frequently Asked Questions

USACE Flood Risk Management Program (FRMP)
 What is Floodplain Management?

Flood risk management is defined as managing both floodwaters to reduce the probability of flooding (that is, structural approaches such as levees and dams) and floodplains to reduce the consequences of flooding. The responsibility of managing the Nation’s flood risks does not lie exclusively with USACE or any other single Federal or non-Federal entity. Rather, responsibility is shared across multiple federal, state, tribal and local government agencies, with a complex set of programs and authorities, and private citizens.

Effective flood risk management requires the integration of mitigation planning, preparedness, response, and recovery programs and activities into a coordinated flood risk management cycle framework.

The world has changed from thinking we can “control” floods to “managing flood risks.” Early on, USACE worked on “controlling” floods to “reduce flood damages.” However, USACE is now taking a major step to “managing flood risk” with the understanding that flood risk management projects cannot completely eliminate all flood risk and that we cannot control floods.

Flood risk management activities cannot be considered in isolation. Effective water resources planning and management must often balance competing needs. An integrated approach to water resource planning considers flood risk management as one of many objectives needed in a watershed. Other objectives might include ecosystem restoration, water supply, hydropower, or navigation depending on the needs in the basin. A collaborative approach to water resource planning and management engages multiple competing stakeholders in the development of watershed management plans to fulfill these needs.

 What is the history of the USACE FRM program?

As a part of the Army, USACE is assigned mission responsibilities in major construction and other engineering support to the Army and Air Force, in nationwide water resource management, in engineering research and development, and in real estate services for the Army and the Department of Defense.  In addition to these long-standing programs, USACE has been called upon with increasing frequency to take a leadership role in the nation's flood risk management arena.  As a result, USACE established the National Flood Risk Management Program (NFRMP) in May 2006 for the purpose of integrating and synchronizing USACE flood risk management programs and activities, both internally and externally with counterpart activities of the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other Federal agencies, state organizations and regional and local agencies as well as non-governmental organizations (NGO).  The official guidance (pdf, 526 KB) establishing the USACE National Flood Risk Management Program was issued in October 2009. The Program Management Plan provides further guidance and information on the implementation of the program to supplement the initial guidance first issued to Major Subordinate Commands (MSCs) and Districts in October of 2009.


 What is the Silver Jackets program?

Silver Jackets teams are continuously operating, state-led, collaborative interagency teams working together to reduce flood risk at the state level.  USACE, FEMA, and other Federal, state and tribal and local agencies provide a unified approach to addressing a state’s priorities.  No single agency has the complete solution — each has one or more pieces, similar to squares in a patchwork quilt.  The Silver Jackets program can be viewed as the quilting bee, the forum where all agencies come together to put their programs together and implement a solution.


 Why the name Silver Jackets?
The name “Silver Jackets” refers to the public’s view of Federal emergency response: USACE in red jackets and FEMA in blue jackets. Instead of operating individually, the intent of the Silver Jackets is to facilitate collaboration among many state and Federal agencies and provide one coherent forum for a state to address their priorities. When referring to this analogy, it is important to note that the jackets are symbolic; as a neutral color silver is meant symbolize unified state and Federal action. The scope of the program, however, is much broader than emergency response. The intent of the Silver Jackets program is to bring agencies together to manage a state’s flood risk throughout the life-cycle. All aspects — mitigation, preparation/training, response and recovery — are within the scope of the team. The team’s focus will be determined by the state’s priorities, and participation may vary accordingly.