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Policy Statement 519 - Peer Review of Water Resources Projects

 
Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on March 13, 2020
Approved by the Policy Review Committee on May 18, 2020
Adopted by the Board on Direction on July 11, 2020

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) believes that independent peer reviews should be conducted on every water project built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in which:

  • Performance is critical to the public health, safety and welfare;
  • Reliability of performance under emergency conditions is critical; 
  • Innovative materials or techniques are used;
  • The design lacks redundancy;
  • There are unique construction sequencing requirements or, a short or overlapping design and construction schedule; and
  • The Envision infrastructure rating system should be considered for use to review the proposed projects.

Issue

Congress enacted the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 in November 2007. The Act required the Corps of Engineers to carry out independent peer reviews of certain projects only.  It limited outside peer reviews to projects costing more than $45 million, to projects whose review is requested by a state governor, or to projects that are controversial due to their size, cost, and environmental impact. In January 2010, the Corps issued guidelines to implement the outside peer review requirement. The guidelines followed the law and limited peer review to select projects. In addition, the guidelines continue the Corps practice of subjecting all projects to a Corps-only review called an "agency internal review." The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure's (ISI) Envision infrastructure rating system provides an additional framework that is available for use in conducting that review.

Rationale

All peer reviews of large or critical civil works projects must be independent from the USACE. Peer reviews should be part of the planning process and not be used   to prevent or delay civil works projects designed to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. Peer review would benefit from the application of Envision which provides another independent review of the sustainability and resiliency of infrastructure projects, from a societal, environmental, and economic perspective. 

ASCE Policy Statement 519
First Approved in 2006


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