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Army Corps of Engineers: Peer Review Process for Civil Works Project Studies Can Be Improved

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Section 2034 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 requires that certain U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Corps civil works project studies undergo independent external peer review to assess the adequacy and acceptability of the methods, models, and analyses used. In the act, Congress established a 7-year trial period for this requirement and also required the Corps to submit two reports on its experiences with the peer review process. GAO was asked to examine the following 1 the number of Corps project studies that have undergone independent peer review in response to section 2034, 2 the cost of these peer reviews, 3 the extent to which the Corps process for determining if a project study is subject to peer review is consistent with section 2034, 4 the process the Corps uses to ensure that the contractors it hires and the experts the contractors select to review project studies are independent and free from conflicts of interest, and 5 the extent to which peer review recommendations have been incorporated into project studies. GAO reviewed relevant laws, agency guidance, and documents and interviewed Corps officials and contractors. GAO recommends that the Department of Defense direct the Corps to, among other actions, better track peer review studies, revise the criteria for determining which studies undergo peer review and the timing of these reviews, and improve its process for ensuring contractor independence. The department generally concurred with these recommendations.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Sociology and Law
  • Civil Engineering
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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