Information on Corps of Engineers Deauthorization Program for Water Projects

Gao ID: CED-82-55 March 23, 1982

In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army Corps of Engineers deauthorization program for water projects as prescribed in the Water Resources and Development Act of 1974. In its report, GAO explained the Corps' implementation of the deauthorization program, outlined its results and costs, and provided Corps comments on the advantages, disadvantages, and possible changes to the program.

In 1974, legislation was enacted to provide a means for removing water resources projects from the list of authorized but unconstructed projects. Projects may be recommended for deauthorization if they have been authorized for at least 8 years but have received no appropriations for the last 8 years. Before recommending projects for deauthorization, the Chief of Engineers is required to: (1) obtain views from interested federal agencies and the governors of affected states, and (2) notify Members of Congress in whose state or district a project is located. Regulations state that deauthorization reviews should be conducted to the extent necessary to determine whether a project should continue to be authorized. In the past 7 years, 877 projects were identified as eligible for possible deauthorization. Congress reviewed 503 projects, deauthorized 453 projects, and continued 50 projects through resolutions. The Corps has received about $1.8 million in appropriations to conduct deauthorization reviews. The largest appropriation was in 1975, and the amounts have declined in subsequent fiscal years. Corps officials interviewed stated that the program has been useful in deauthorizing unneeded or unjustified projects and commented on several possible changes to the process including: (1) adding a sunset provision to automatically deauthorize a project not funded in a specific number of years, (2) recommending projects for deauthorization when they become eligible without any deauthorization review, and (3) submitting deauthorization recommendations periodically rather than annually.

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