Information on the Army Corps of Engineers' Contracting for Dredging Work on the Great Lakes

CED-82-10: Published: Nov 10, 1981. Publicly Released: Nov 10, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the Army Corps of Engineers' contracting policies and procedures for dredging on the Great Lakes to respond to questions concerning the Corps' statutory obligation to provide contracted dredging work, when feasible and cost effective, and to maintain a minimum number of federally owned dredges necessary to perform emergency and national defense work.

Private industry's share of the Corps' Detroit district's work on the Great Lakes has increased from about 12 percent in fiscal year 1977 to about 66 percent in fiscal year 1981. Because of the Corps' method of preparing cost estimates for dredging work on the Great Lakes, individual project estimates may not reflect the best information available on anticipated costs. Since these estimates are critical in determining whether a private contractor will or will not be awarded a dredging contract, inaccurate cost estimates may result in the wrong decision on whether a private contractor should be involved. The measurement of the volume of material actually dredged is difficult, but the method used by the Corps is an acceptable, though not perfect, technique. The Corps' criteria in scheduling dredging periods are compatible with a logical schedule for using its dredges effectively and with the State's preferred schedule, which is intended to serve environmental and recreational needs. The Corps' 1980-81 dredging work schedule conformed for the most part with the State's preferred periods. The Army is studying the minimum federally owned fleet necessary to perform emergency and national defense dredging requirements. During fiscal year 1982, it plans to announce the eight Corps dredges that will constitute the minimum hopper fleet and plans to forward a study to the Secretary of the Army on the nonhopper dredge minimum fleet. Any Corps dredge above the minimum fleet size would have to compete with industry dredges for all work which the industry expresses an interest to bid on.

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