Hurricane Katrina: Strategic Planning Needed to Guide Future Enhancements Beyond Interim Levee Repairs

GAO-06-934 Published: Sep 06, 2006. Publicly Released: Sep 06, 2006.
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Highlights

Hurricane Katrina's storm surge and floodwaters breached levees and floodwalls causing billions of dollars of property damage, and more than 1,300 deaths. Under the Comptroller General's authority to conduct reviews on his own initiative, GAO reviewed the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) (1) progress in repairing damage to hurricane protection projects by June 1, 2006; (2) plans and estimated costs to make other repairs and complete five existing hurricane protection projects; and (3) plans and estimated costs to add enhancements and strengthen hurricane protection for the region. GAO reviewed related laws and regulations, Corps planning documents and repair tracking reports, observed ongoing repair work, and met with key agency officials and other stakeholders.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Corps of Engineers In order to construct a hurricane protection system that provides the appropriate level of protection to southeastern Louisiana and ensures the most efficient use of federal resources, the Army Corps of Engineers should develop (1) a comprehensive strategy that includes an integrated approach for all projects and plans for rebuilding and strengthening the system and (2) an implementation plan that will achieve the specific level of protection in a cost-effective manner, within a reasonable time frame.
Closed – Implemented
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps)issued the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program (MsCIP)in June 2009, as well as the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan (LaCPR)in August 2009 for hurricane and storm damage reduction and environmental restoration. Both studies provide a comprehensive approach and implementation plan for restoration and protection alternatives.
Corps of Engineers In order to construct a hurricane protection system that provides the appropriate level of protection to southeastern Louisiana and ensures the most efficient use of federal resources the Army Corps of Engineers should establish an evaluative organization like the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force, to assist in its efforts in developing a strategic plan, monitoring progress, and providing expert advice for constructing a stronger and well-integrated hurricane protection system.
Closed – Implemented
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issued the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program in June 2009, as well as the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan technical report in August 2009 for hurricane and storm damage reduction and environmental restoration. Both studies provide a comprehensive approach for restoration and protection alternatives. As part of their approach in developing these studies, in 2006 the Corps assembled an external peer review group consisting of independent scientists and engineers, the National Research Council, federal, state, and local agencies, and others to guide the development of the studies and monitor the implementation of the plan.

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