U.S. Sen. David Vitter secured bipartisan sponsorship of his bill that would begin to reform the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ delivery of critical flood control and navigation projects.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has joined as a cosponsor on Vitter’s bill, which would create a pilot program aimed at eliminating red tape and expediting backlogged Corps projects by delegating more project management responsibility to state and local governments.
“Backlogs and red tape have plagued the Corps, especially since Hurricanes Katina and Rita, and I want to start implementing necessary reforms that will cut through the red tape and speed up critical flood control and navigation projects,” Vitter said. “If we’d start handling Corps projects more like federal highway projects, letting states take the lead, it would allow them to complete the projects more quickly and cheaply. In Louisiana, flood protection isn’t something we can allow to be backlogged for years on end.”
Nationally, there is a $60 billion backlog in Corps projects, more than ten times the entire annual Corps budget of $5 billion.
Vitter’s Corps reform bill would do the following:
• Force the Corps to delegate its project manager role on many projects to state and local government partners on those projects.
• Create a pilot program that will involve certain significant projects to start and will be expanded from there.
• Require that the Corps would still be involved and help provide oversight.
• Maintain current federal design and construction standards.
• Maintain that almost all of the actual design and construction work be performed by private firms, just as it is now.
Dredging Today Staff, March 1, 2012; Image: vitter