Washington, DC- Less than 18 months after internal disclosures detailed manipulation of cost- benefit studies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has decided to proceed with its original plan for large scale expansion and re-construction of the entire lock and dam system throughout the Upper Mississippi River and the Illinois Waterway, according to internal documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Last week Major General Hans Van Winkle, the director of civil works for the Corps, ordered that the billion plus dollar project be ready for final congressional operation next year.
The original disclosures by one of the Corps’ own senior economists, Dr. Donald C. Sweeney, filed through PEER led to critical reports by both the National Academy of Sciences and the Army’s Office of Inspector General. These reports chastised the Corps for using self-serving assumptions and recommending discipline against top officers. Rejecting these official rebukes, the Corps has decided to proceed with the original project with “no new data analysis or collection” while admitting that this approach “doesn’t address any issues” raised by the National Academy or the Pentagon, according to one key “PowerPoint” presentation made to Corps leadership in late June.
“The Corps is proving itself once again to be a rogue agency, out of control and driven only by institutional self-interest,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “The agency’s military leadership has decided to blow off every reform recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences and the Army Inspector General, so there will be no independent peer review of Corps studies nor will the Corps address the inherent conflicts of interest embedded within its planning process.”
The Corps PowerPoint presentation indicates that the Corps command has decided to seek authorization of the full Upper-Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway project in the Water Resources Development Act of 2002, a time-line requiring final congressional approval next summer.