Army Corps of Engineers: Continuing Authorities Programs

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Updated June 16, 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.
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
Beach erosion control
33 U.S.C. §426g
include reducing damage to life and property from flooding,
Navigation improvement
33 U.S.C. §577
reducing erosion in certain circumstances, and protecting
and restoring aquatic ecosystems, among others (see Table
Prevention/mitigation of
33 U.S.C. §426i
1). CAPs typically are referred to by the section number of
shore damage by federal
the law in which the CAP was first authorized.
navigation projects
33 U.S.C. §2326
Requesting a CAP Project
Regional sediment
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
Flood control (including ice
33 U.S.C. §701s
describing the water resource problem and requesting
jam prevention)
assistance with a project. (Templates for letters are
generally available at USACE district websites.) USACE
Aquatic ecosystem
33 U.S.C. §2330
determines if there is federal interest to proceed with the
requested project and if the project fits under a CAP
Removal of obstructions
33 U.S.C. §701g
and clearing channels for
flood control
Project Process: Feasibility and Construction
CAP projects consist of a feasibility phase and a design and
Project modifications for
33 U.S.C. §2309a
implementation phase. The purposes of the feasibility phase
improvement of the
include determining whether there is a federal interest in the
project (e.g., identifying costs and benefits) and identifying
Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS).
the preferred project alternative. The feasibility phase
involves planning activities, such as development of
Nonfederal Responsibilities
alternative plans to achieve project goals , initial design and
The CAP authorities, similar to the standard USACE
cost estimations, environmental impact analyses, and real
project authorities, require a nonfederal sponsor to share
estate evaluation. For CAP projects, the design and
project feasibility and construction costs and other
implementation phase can immediately follow the
responsibilities, including obtaining real estate interests.
feasibility phase (i.e., without project-specific congressional
Federal funds pay for the first $100,000 of the feasibility
authorization), subject to the availability of appropriations.
phase, with additional feasibility costs generally shared
50% federal and 50% nonfederal. Cost sharing for
construction varies according to CAP authorities, as shown

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Army Corps of Engineers: Continuing Authorities Programs
in Table 2. Nonfederal sponsors may fulfill cost-share
emergency supplemental appropriations for CAP projects
contributions with cash; work-in-kind credit; and/or lands,
addressing flood and storm damage reduction in qualifying
easements, rights-of-way, relocations, and disposal areas. In
states and territories. As of January 2020, USACE had
some cases, Congress has provided for certain USACE
publicly identified $37 million of this funding for CAP
project costs, including CAP project costs, to be undertaken
at a greater federal expense (e.g., 33 U.S.C. §2310 and 33
U.S.C. §2267b). The Water Resources Development Act of
Figure 1. CAP Funding Authorizations, Requests, and
2020 (WRDA 2020; Division AA of P.L. 116-260)
Annual Appropriations
authorized a pilot program for USACE to conduct 10 CAP
(aggregated amounts)
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)
Federal Project Federal
Federal Program
and FY2021
$0.0 (R); $8.0 (E)
$0.0 (R); $4.0 (E)
$0.0 (R); $5.0 (E)
$0.0 (R); $5.0 (E)
$1.0 (R); $10.0 (E)
$1.0 (R); $15.0 (E)
$1.0 (R); $11.0 (E)
$0.0 (R); $1.5 (E)
$1.5 (R); $10.0 (E)
Sources: CRS using statutes, USACE FY2022 Budget Press Book,
reports accompanying enacted FY2021 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 §111.
FY2020 levels; FY2022 levels are shown here.
Supplemental appropriations are not included.
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 FY2022. In annual appropriations, Congress has
Committees on Appropriations on how the agency
provided more CAP funding than requested. For example,
prioritizes CAP projects for funding and on program
Congress appropriated a total of $69.5 million for FY2021
compared 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
P.L. 116-20—provided up to an additional $75 million in

Army Corps of Engineers: Continuing Authorities Programs

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