Corps of Engineers Civil Works Work Plan Reprioritized by OMB

23 Jun 2018 5:30 PM | Tom Poer (Administrator)

Lawmakers are pushing back against the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) reprioritization of the Corps of Engineers (Corps) Work Plan for 2018 Civil Works projects.  The 2018 Work Plan released on 11 June provided much of what MOARC working with its partners across the region has advocated for in flood control for the region. However, a critical project for the future of the region, the Kansas River Basin study, was not included in the 2018 funding package.  The Kansas River Basin study was advocated as a New Start project to look into operational changes on the Kansas River basin reservoirs to address future water supply requirements for the State of Kansas, as well as, additional downstream flood control opportunities on the Kansas River and its tributaries.  The proposed study was prioritized by the Corps as one of the six mandated New Start studies across the nation.  It passed the review of the Corps leadership and continued as a priority project through the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, but was omitted from 2018 funding by the Office of Management and Budget.  MOARC has taken exception to the reprioritization of the agency’s work plan by OMB and has sent notes to the regional delegation highlighting the concerns in OMB manipulation of an agency’s recommendations.  When Congress curtailed its earmarking the intent was to have the agency act as the expert on project priorities and amounts to be funded out of the allocation provided by Congress.  Several congressional offices apparently agree with MOARC as shown the article below that came out in Bloomberg Government on 18 June.

Lawmakers to White House: Hands Off U.S. Army Corps Projects:  If lawmakers don’t get to pick and choose their favorite infrastructure projects with earmarks, neither should Mick Mulvaney. That’s the message from House appropriators who hope to block the White House budget director’s authority to change Army Corps of Engineers construction plans.  House appropriators unanimously agreed in a voice vote last week to insert a measure in their financial services spending bill, which includes general government appropriations, barring the White House Office of Management and Budget from amending the annual work plan developed by the Army Corps of Engineers.   

The measure is intended to push back against what appropriators see as arbitrary decisions to remove projects from the original plan developed by the Army Corps, said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who offered the amendment. The issue has become significant in the last “couple years” under the Trump administration, Simpson said.  “They’re things that I guess Mulvaney doesn’t agree with,” Simpson said of the removals. “And that’s not his job.”  OMB spokesman Coalter Baker didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The budget office and the Army Corps don’t say what portions of the work plan are OMB suggestions, but there have been several instances during the Trump administration in which a partially finished infrastructure project was excluded from the annual work list to the surprise of lawmakers who had expected the projects to be included.  


 

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