Economic Development:

Sharing the Cost of Making Federal Water Project Feasibility Studies

RCED-83-18: Published: Dec 6, 1982. Publicly Released: Dec 6, 1982.

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GAO discussed feasibility studies undertaken by the Federal government to resolve water resources problems and the factors affecting the study outcome. The purpose of the review was to determine how frequently studies did not identify acceptable solutions and why.

GAO estimated that, during the past 17 years, Federal agencies have spent about $100 million on water project feasibility studies. In its review GAO examined more than 1,200 studies and found that most of the concluded or completed studies were unable to identify acceptable solutions to water resources problems. In many cases, costs to correct a water problem either exceeded the benefits or local government or communities did not support the solution. GAO believes that cost sharing between the Federal entities and local sponsors would provide evidence of local commitment to a study and any resulting project and thus reduce the likelihood of a solution that is unacceptable to the community.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: Congress should assure that cost sharing is applied uniformly by all Federal water resources agencies and include all direct and indirect costs related to performing the study.

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Although GAO continues to believe that project beneficiaries should assume a greater share of the costs and that recipients should be treated equally, Congress and the administration have determined that the beneficiaries share should be determined on a project-by-project basis.

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of the Army, Agriculture, and the Interior should direct the Chiefs of the Corps of Engineers and the Soil Conservation Service and the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation to: (1) meet with the local sponsor to gain an understanding of the type, size, and cost of the project they envision; (2) evaluate the sponsor's legal authority and financial capability to contract for and fund a project; and (3) determine whether study sponsors have adequately assessed the depth and likely commitment of support.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of the Army, Agriculture, and the Interior should direct the Chiefs of the Corps of Engineers and the Soil Conservation Service and the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation to: (1) meet with the local sponsor to gain an understanding of the type, size, and cost of the project they envision; (2) evaluate the sponsor's legal authority and financial capability to contract for and fund a project; and (3) determine whether study sponsors have adequately assessed the depth and likely commitment of support.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of the Army, Agriculture, and the Interior should direct the Chiefs of the Corps of Engineers and the Soil Conservation Service and the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation to: (1) meet with the local sponsor to gain an understanding of the type, size, and cost of the project they envision; (2) evaluate the sponsor's legal authority and financial capability to contract for and fund a project; and (3) determine whether study sponsors have adequately assessed the depth and likely commitment of support.

    Agency Affected: Congress

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

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