Washington, DC–Three months after the agency was rocked by scandals involving senior officers who manipulated economic studies, the Commander of the Corps of Engineers submitted a trumped up analysis of barge traffic forecasts to Congress, according to a report written by Corps economists and released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Lt. General Robert Flowers offered the internal analysis to Congress as proof that Corps forecasts are unbiased, but the review by the Corps own specialists shows just the opposite.
Most significantly, the PEER report charges that Corps construction plans are based on inflated estimates of future barge traffic on US rivers. The PEER reports cites the Corps own published documentation of actual traffic data that directly conflicts with Corps predictions, showing a doubling or tripling of barge traffic during in the next twenty years.
Contrary to Gen. Flowers’ congressional testimony, every one of the traffic forecasts examined in the internal Corps analysis and used by the Corps to justify construction of waterway projects exhibits significant overestimates of future inland waterway navigation traffic, according to a separate review by the agency’s own economists. Moreover, the Corps analysis excluded all forecasts contradicting the General’s false picture of forecasting accuracy.
In February, the National Academy of Sciences released a report chastising the Corps for distorting inputs to its economic models in order to justify large-scale construction. The National recommended that future Corps feasibility studies be subjected to real independent technical review. According to Corps employees, Gen. Flowers ignored this and other recommendations of the National Academy and instead has launched an aggressive public relations campaign defending agency leadership.
“The Corps truly has become a rogue agency, dedicated solely to its own budget growth and sorely in need of genuine civilian oversight,” commented PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “The Corps learned nothing from the scandal of last year except for the dubious lesson that it should be more bald- faced when it lies.”