Army Corps of Engineers: Continuing Authorities Programs

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Updated January 9, 2020
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 resources 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.
Eligible Activities
Types of CAP Projects
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
which CAP projects it will perform using the CAP
program’s appropriations. Purposes of CAP projects may
Hurricane storm damage
33 U.S.C. §426g
include reducing damage to life and property from flooding,
reducing erosion in certain circumstances, and protecting
Navigation improvement
33 U.S.C. §577
and restoring aquatic ecosystems, among others (see Table
. CAPs typically are referred to by the section number of
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
Regional sediment
33 U.S.C. §2326
To initiate a CAP project, a nonfederal sponsor (e.g., a local
management/beneficial use
government or nonprofit entity with local government
of dredged material
consent) sends a letter to the appropriate USACE district
describing the water resource problem and requesting
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
Aquatic ecosystem
33 U.S.C. §2330
requested project and if the project fits under a CAP
Removal of obstructions
33 U.S.C. §701g
and clearing channels for
Project Process: Feasibility and Construction
flood control
All USACE projects, including CAP projects, consist of a
feasibility phase and a design and implementation phase.
Project modifications for
33 U.S.C. §2309a
The purposes of the feasibility phase include determining
improvement of the
whether there is a federal interest in the project (e.g.,
identifying costs and benefits) and identifying the preferred
Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS).
project alternative. The feasibility phase involves planning
activities, such as development of alternative plans to
Nonfederal Responsibilities
achieve the project goals, initial design and cost
The CAP authorities, similar to the standard USACE
estimations, environmental impact analyses, and real estate
project authorities, require a nonfederal sponsor to share
evaluation. For CAP projects, the construction phase can
project feasibility and construction costs and other
immediately follow the feasibility phase (i.e., without
responsibilities, including obtaining real estate interests.
project-specific congressional authorization), subject to the
Federal funds pay for the first $100,000 of the feasibility
availability of appropriations.
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
flood and storm damage reduction in qualifying states and
in Table 2. Nonfederal sponsors may fulfill cost-share
territories (see CRS Report R45185, Army Corps of
contributions with cash; work-in-kind credit; and/or lands,
Engineers: Water Resource Authorization and Project
easements, rights-of-way, relocations, and disposal areas. In
Delivery Processes). As of August 2019, USACE had
some cases, Congress has provided for certain USACE
publicly identified seven projects totaling $37 million to be
project costs, including CAP project costs, to be undertaken
funded using BBA 2018 funds. In June 2019, Congress
at a greater federal expense (e.g., 33 U.S.C. §2310 and 33
enacted the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for
U.S.C. §2267b).
Disaster Relief Act, 2019 (P.L. 116-20), which included up
to $25 million for USACE to use on CAP projects for flood
Table 2. Selected CAP Project and Program Limits,
risk reduction in qualifying states and territories.
Enacted Appropriations, and Budget Requests
(in millions of dollars)
Figure 1. CAP Funding Authorizations, Requests, and
Annual Appropriations

(aggregated amounts)
Federal Project Federal
Federal Program
Requested and
$0.0 (R); $8.0 (E)
$0.0 (R); $4.0 (E)
$0.0 (R); $8.0 (E)
$0.0 (R); $5.0 (E)
$1.0 (R); $15.0 (E)
$1.0 (R); $12.0 (E)
$1.0 (R); $10.0 (E)
$0.0 (R); $1.5 (E)
$1.0 (R); $8.0 (E)
Sources: CRS using statues, USACE Budget Press Book, reports
accompanying enacted USACE appropriations, and Engineer Pamphlet
Notes: NA = Not Applicable. R = Requested. E = Enacted.
a. Varies based on depth and 50% for recreational navigation.
b. Same as the project causing the damage.
Appropriations for CAPs
Congress has limited the per project federal funding for
CAP authorities (Table 2). Each CAP, except for Section
111, has an annual program funding authorization limit
(Table 2). Congress increased program funding

authorization levels for most CAPs by 25% in the
Source: CRS using statutes, USACE Budget Press Book, and reports
America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA 2018;
accompanying enacted USACE appropriations.
P.L. 115-270). AWIA 2018 also increased the project
Notes: Funding shown in real dollars. Funding is for §§14, 103, 107,
authorization for Section 111 by 25%.
204, 205, 206, and 1135. Supplemental appropriations are not
As shown in Figure 1, the Administration budget requests
and annual appropriations from Congress have included
less funding for CAPs than the authorized funding levels
Congress has instructed USACE to publish prioritization
(see Figure 1). Since FY2015, the Administration has
criteria for funding CAP projects and an annual report on
requested less than $10 million in aggregate for CAPs, with
CAPs in the Federal Register one year after the enactment
no funding requested for Section 14, 103, 107, 208, and 111
of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of
projects. In annual appropriations, Congress has provided
2014 (Section 1030; P.L. 113-121). The report is to include
more CAP funding than requested. For example, Congress
the name, description, and cost estimate of active CAP
appropriated a total of $71.5 million for FY2020 compared
projects and the funding available in the fiscal year for
to the Administration’s request of $3 million.
CAPs. To date, USACE has not published this information
in the Federal Register or on its website.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA 2018; P.L. 115-
123) provided up to an additional $50 million in emergency
Anna E. Normand, Analyst in Natural Resources Policy
supplemental appropriations for CAP projects addressing

Army Corps of Engineers: Continuing Authorities Programs

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