NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Corps Maneuvers For 50 Percent Budget Increase

February 25, 2000

Documents and a slide show have recently been uncovered which reveal the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as one of the more self-aggrandizing bureaucracies in Washington, D.C. They are part of a campaign to increase the agency's budget from $4 billion to $6.2 billion by 2005.

Those who have reviewed the campaign say it certainly lacks subtlety. "Oh my God. My God. I have no idea what you are talking about. I can't believe this," said Joseph Westphal, after being informed of the campaign by a Washington Post reporter. Westphal is the civilian assistant Army secretary who is charged with controlling the agency's civil works policy.

  • The plan, entitled the "Program Growth Initiative," justifies the growth strategy by claiming an increased demand for Corps projects.
  • Corps generals have said publicly that with the federal budget in surplus, the nation needs to invest in upgrading its aging water transportation infrastructure.
  • The slide presentation cites certain "impediments to growth" -- including the laws governing the agency's conduct and the departure of certain friends on Capitol Hill -- and calls for a "specifically targeted communications plan" to bring Congress and the Clinton administration on board.
  • The presentation does not identify the plan's "Target Growth Areas" -- but provides instead line-by-line, year-by-year budget targets for all eight Corps divisions plus headquarters, as well as final 2005 goals for the agency's seven major program activities.

The presentation reportedly attempts to justify a doubling -- to $260 million -- of its budget to study construction projects. It proposes a "program with targeted studies that should lead to target construction activities with continuation of historical success rates."

"That's how we measure success around here -- anything that gives us more work to do," says one agency official who has seen the presentation. "The watchword is grow."

Source: Michael Grunwald, "Generals Push Huge Growth for Engineers," Washington Post, February 24, 2000.

 

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