Army Corps of Engineers: Continuing Authorities Programs

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Updated January 5, 2021
Army Corps of Engineers: Continuing Authorities Programs
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) undertakes
The design and implementation phase includes the final
water resource development projects pursuant to
design and specifications, real estate acquisition, and
authorizing statutes and the receipt of appropriations. The
project contracting and physical construction. The
standard process for a USACE project requires two separate
nonfederal sponsor and USACE sign a project partnership
congressional authorizations—one for studying feasibility
agreement prior to construction. Upon construction
and a subsequent one for construction—as well as
completion, USACE transfers the project to the sponsor,
appropriations for both (see CRS Report R45185, Army
which is responsible for operations, maintenance, and most
Corps of Engineers: Water Resource Authorization and
repairs and rehabilitation (except for commercial navigation
Project Delivery Processes). Additionally, Congress has
pursuant to Section 107 CAP, which allows for USACE
granted USACE programmatic authorities to undertake
operations and maintenance). According to USACE,
cost-shared projects of limited scope and cost without
pending funding, CAP projects generally take three years
requiring project-specific congressional authorization.
from feasibility phase initiation to construction completion.
These programmatic USACE authorities are referred to as
Continuing Authorities Programs (CAPs). Congress has
Table 1. Selected Continuing Authorities Programs
consistently funded USACE CAPs above the President’s
request since FY2013.
CAP
Eligible Activities
Authority
Types of CAP Projects
§14
Streambank erosion and
33 U.S.C. §701r
shoreline protection of
Since FY2012, Congress has appropriated funding for CAP
public works and nonprofit
programs, not individual CAP projects. USACE identifies
services
which CAP projects it will perform using the CAP
program’s appropriations. Purposes of CAP projects may
§103
Hurricane storm damage
33 U.S.C. §426g
include reducing damage to life and property from flooding,
reduction
reducing erosion in certain circumstances, and protecting
§107
Navigation improvement
33 U.S.C. §577
and restoring aquatic ecosystems, among others (see Table
1
)
. CAPs typically are referred to by the section number of
§111
Prevention/mitigation of
33 U.S.C. §426i
the law in which the CAP was first authorized.
shore damage by federal
navigation projects
Requesting a CAP Project
§204
33 U.S.C. §2326
To initiate a CAP project, a nonfederal sponsor (e.g., a local
Regional sediment
government or nonprofit entity with local government
management/beneficial use
consent) sends a letter to the appropriate USACE district
of dredged material
describing the water resource problem and requesting
§205
Flood control (including ice
33 U.S.C. §701s
assistance with a project. (Templates for letters are
jam prevention)
generally available at USACE district websites.) USACE
determines if there is federal interest to proceed with the
§206
Aquatic ecosystem
33 U.S.C. §2330
requested project and if the project fits under a CAP
restoration
authority.
§208
Removal of obstructions
33 U.S.C. §701g
and clearing channels for
Project Process: Feasibility and Construction
flood control
CAP projects consist of a feasibility phase and a design and
implementation phase. The purposes of the feasibility phase
§1135
Project modifications for
33 U.S.C. §2309a
include determining whether there is a federal interest in the
improvement of the
project (e.g., identifying costs and benefits) and identifying
environment
the preferred project alternative. The feasibility phase
Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS).
involves planning activities, such as development of
alternative plans to achieve project goals , initial design and
Nonfederal Responsibilities
cost estimations, environmental impact analyses, and real
The CAP authorities, similar to the standard USACE
estate evaluation. For CAP projects, the design and
project authorities, require a nonfederal sponsor to share
implementation phase can immediately follow the
project feasibility and construction costs and other
feasibility phase (i.e., without project-specific congressional
responsibilities, including obtaining real estate interests.
authorization), subject to the availability of appropriations.
Federal funds pay for the first $100,000 of the feasibility
phase, with additional feasibility costs generally shared
50% federal and 50% nonfederal. Cost sharing for
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Army Corps of Engineers: Continuing Authorities Programs
construction varies according to CAP authorities, as shown
emergency supplemental appropriations for CAP projects
in Table 2. Nonfederal sponsors may fulfill cost-share
addressing flood and storm damage reduction in qualifying
contributions with cash; work-in-kind credit; and/or lands,
states and territories. As of January 2020, USACE had
easements, rights-of-way, relocations, and disposal areas. In
publicly identified $37 million of this funding for CAP
some cases, Congress has provided for certain USACE
projects.
project costs, including CAP project costs, to be undertaken
at a greater federal expense (e.g., 33 U.S.C. §2310 and 33
Figure 1. CAP Funding Authorizations, Requests, and
U.S.C. §2267b). The Water Resources Development Act of
Annual Appropriations
2020 (WRDA 2020; Division AA of P.L. 116-260)
(aggregated amounts)
authorized a pilot program for USACE to conduct 10 CAP
projects at full federal expense for small or economically
disadvantaged communities.
Table 2. Selected CAP Project and Program Limits,
Enacted Appropriations, and Budget Requests
(in millions of dollars)
Max.
Per
Annual
Federal Project Federal
FY2021
Cost
Federal Program
Requested and
CAP
Share
Limit
Limit
Enacted
§14
65%
$5.0
$25.5
$0.0 (R); $8.0 (E)
§103
65%
$10.0
$38.0
$0.0 (R); $4.0 (E)
§107
Variesa
$10.0
$63.0
$0.0 (R); $5.0 (E)
§111
Variesb
$12.5
NA
$0.0 (R); $5.0 (E)
§204
65%
$10.0
$63.0
$1.0 (R); $10.0 (E)
§205
65%
$10.0
$69.3
$1.0 (R); $15.0 (E)
§206
65%
$10.0
$63.0
$1.0 (R); $11.0 (E)
§208
65%
$0.50
$8.0
$0.0 (R); $1.5 (E)
§1135
75%
$10.0
$50.5
$1.0 (R); $10.0 (E)
Sources: CRS using statutes, USACE Budget Press Book, reports
accompanying enacted USACE appropriations, and Engineer Pamphlet
1105-2-58.
Notes: NA = Not Applicable. R = Requested. E = Enacted. In the

Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (Division AA of P.L.
Source: CRS using statutes, USACE Budget Press Book, and reports
116-260), Congress increased annual CAP funding authorization
accompanying enacted USACE appropriations.
levels for FY2021 through FY2024 by $500,000 compared with
Notes: Funding shown in real dol ars. Funding does not include §114.
FY2020 levels; FY2021 levels are shown here.
Supplemental appropriations are not included.
a.
Varies based on depth and 50% for recreational navigation.
b. Same as the project causing the damage.
Prioritization and Reporting
Congress has instructed USACE to publish prioritization
Appropriations for CAPs
criteria for funding CAP projects and an annual report on
Congress has limited the per project federal funding for
CAPs in the Federal Register one year after the enactment
CAP authorities (Table 2). Each CAP, except for Section
of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of
111, has an annual program funding authorization limit
2014 (Section 1030; P.L. 113-121). The report is to include
(Table 2). As shown in Figure 1, the Administration
the name, description, and cost estimate of active CAP
budget requests and annual appropriations from Congress
projects and the funding available in the fiscal year for
have included less funding for CAPs than the authorized
CAPs. As of the end of December 2020, USACE has not
funding levels. Since FY2015, the Administration has
published this information in the Federal Register or on its
requested less than $10 million in aggregate for CAPs , with
website. The explanatory statement accompanying FY2021
no funding requested for Section 14, 103, 107, 111, and 208
USACE appropriations directed USACE to brief the
projects. In annual appropriations, Congress has provided
Committees on Appropriations on how the agency
more CAP funding than requested. For example, Congress
prioritizes CAP projects for funding and on program
appropriated a total of $69.5 million for FY2021 compared
execution.
with the Administration’s request of $4 million.
Anna E. Normand, Analyst in Natural Resources Policy
Two supplemental appropriations acts—P.L. 115-123 and
IF11106
P.L. 116-20—provided up to an additional $75 million in
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Army Corps of Engineers: Continuing Authorities Programs


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