Questions and Answers
Q1: How is HQUSACE communicating this with Congress?
A1: The HQUSACE is addressing this initiative as part of the FY2013 Budget testimony for Congressional appropriation and authorization committees.
Q2: Can we discuss this with Congressional Delegation and non-Federal sponsors?
A2: Yes. Talking Points have been developed and should be used by all levels of USACE for coordination and communication with stakeholders, sponsors and Congress.
Q3: When will the new Planning Paradigm be implemented?
A3: The intent is to fully implement this new process in FY2014; however many of the concepts of the new Paradigm can be applied now to existing feasibility studies.
Q4: Will the new Paradigm require changes to existing legislation, policy, and guidance?
A4: The new process can be implemented in large part without modifications to existing legislation, policies, or guidance. A task force comprised of those that developed the original principles of the Paradigm and other members representing all Civil Works functional elements will convene in early March 2012 to develop and refine the concepts and methodologies for implementing the new Paradigm.
Q5: Will the proposed PR&G affect the new Planning paradigm?
A5: The new paradigm is being implemented to transform the USACE Civil Works Planning program and will be implemented independent of PR&G. The concepts of the new paradigm are consistent with the proposed PR&G.
Q6: Is the National Pilot Program for Feasibility Studies continuing and will there be more pilot studies?
A6: The current five pilot studies will continue to validate concepts of a new planning paradigm and continue to provide lessons learned. At this time, no additional pilot studies are proposed.
Q7: Does 3 x 3 x 3 rule go into effect immediately?
Q8: Is the $3M threshold the total feasibility study cost or the Federal share?
A8: The $3M threshold is the total feasibility study cost.
Q9: Where did the 3-year duration and $3M thresholds come from?
A9: ER 1105-2-100, states typical studies should be completed in 18-36 months. In addition, Section 2033(c) of WRDA 2007 directs that the benchmark goal for a study be within 2 years or generally up to 4 years. The $3M threshold was selected to enforce implementation of new Paradigm principles to scale studies commensurate with complexity. It is not intended to be a one-size fits all approach for feasibility studies. We recognize there are complex watershed and other multi-purpose studies that will require additional time and funds to complete. These complex studies are envisioned to be the exception rather than the rule. This also enforces vertical team concurrence on scope and assures DCG-CEO approval.
Q10: My current FCSA cost exceeds the $3M threshold, will we have to amend the FCSA and re-scope to complete in 3 years?
A10: If your study is not scheduled for completion (submission of final report to HQUSACE) by 31 Dec 2012 then you will have to either request approval to continue as is or re-scope to complete in 3 yrs and $3M. The amount of funds spent to date and number of years study has been ongoing should be considered in the 3 yrs and $3M guidelines.
Q11: Does this apply to ongoing Reconnaissance studies? I am ready to execute an FCSA and the cost is over $3M, will I have to re-scope or request approval from HQUSACE to continue as is?
A11: Yes. However, the specifics on requesting waivers have not been developed. So as not to delay progress, District’s should elevate issue to MSC’s for vertical team discussion and development of study specific guidance.
Q12: Does this include Limited and/or General Reevaluation Reports?
A12: Yes. This guidance addresses Feasibility Study execution which includes all cost-shared studies including LRR’s and GRR’s. However, the number of feasibility studies described in the memorandum reflects the number of Investigations studies. The Investigations account is our first priority.
Q13: Is the 3 x 3 x 3 rule trying to push more engineering in to PED or delay other processes in order to meet the 3-year timeline?
A13: No. The goal is to focus on the appropriate level of detail needed to make the decision. Feasibility-level design will still be conducted using the data appropriate for developing the design. The difference is that the level of detail will be limited to a single alternative or small set alternatives.
Q14: The memo indicates studies scoped to be longer than 3 years or $3 million will require approval. Will guidelines be forthcoming as to how to request this approval, or the circumstances under which approval would be granted?
A14: Yes. The PCoP is working closely with HQ CoP’s and RIT’s to establish Standard Operating Procedures for implementation of these new requirements. All waivers will be processed through the RIT’s and be presented to a Senior Review Panel.
Q15: Who sits on the Senior Leader’s Review Panel?
A15: The Senior Leaders Review Panel consists of Mr. Theodore A. Brown, Chief Planning and Policy, Mr. James Dalton, Chief Engineering and Construction, Mr. Scott Whiteford, Chief Real Estate , and Mr. Mark Mazzanti, Chief Programs Integration Division. Board members will get support as needed from staff.
Q16: Is the target report length of 100-pages for the main feasibility report or an integrated report/environmental document? Is there an example?
A16: The target length of 100-pages is for an integrated document. An example (template) is under development.
Q17: What part of the analysis should the districts cut in order to reduce the size and detail in their reports?
A17: Data gathering and analyses should focus on areas critical to differentiating among the alternatives. A risk based decision making approach is important. Information that is common to all the alternatives should be acknowledged (i.e., what is the minimal level of detail that is acceptable?). This could help define what components, at a minimum, must be included in feasibility studies.
Q18: What additional training will be provided on the new paradigm?
A18: The Planning CoP is developing a thorough and comprehensive training approach that will address transition and implementation to the new Planning Paradigm by FY2014. This is intended to be rapid delivery training program that minimizes costs, thereby allowing maximum participation in the training.