13 Nov 2013

Why the US Army Corps of Engineers is failing

I gave a talk last week in Portland that I titled "Does the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers need more economists?"

I claim that they do, because:
  • The Corps can neither assess nor rank their projects accurately, due to regional biases
  • The Corps lacks the resources to meet all (Congressional) demands*
  • The Corps has strayed from providing public goods to providing private goods
Here are my PDF slides and 28 min MP3 of the talk.

Bottom Line: Times have changed and the Corps must change with them.

* I was somewhat pleased when Steve Stockton (Head of civil engineering, USACE) answered my question ("should the Corps outsource some of its overload?") in the affirmative [3 min MP3]. I'd love to get involved in this process, probably by setting up a "market" for allocating Corps' resources among the many claimants. Such a truth-revealing mechanism would go a long way towards reducing the games and manipulation that has paralyzed the Corps for the past decade (if not longer).