A new manual that outlines polices and procedures for engineering assessments after disasters has been adopted by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The Post-Disaster Assessment Manual was developed by ASCE’s Task Committee on Engineering Review Procedures (TCERP) so that the society’s procedures for such assessments would be available in a single, readily accessible source.

ASCE has participated in more than a dozen assessments in the last decade, including studies of the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001; earthquake assessments in Italy, China, Peru, Japan, Sumatra-Andaman, Algeria, Alaska and California; and assessments following hurricanes Katrina and Ike.

ASCE has two purposes in doing post-disaster assessments. First, the behavior of engineered facilities that have been exposed to extreme forces must be evaluated so engineers may learn from the disaster. Second, those lessons must be documented to inform the future actions of both the profession and society.

When developing the manual TCERP assessed not only ASCE’s long-standing practices for such reviews, but also the practices of more than 20 other organizations. The resulting document provides a single, comprehensive source for policies and procedures governing every aspect of post-disaster assessments, including: criteria for launching an assessment; funding mechanisms; selection of team leaders and members; team responsibilities; conflicts of interest; coordination with other organizations; schedules; staff support; public communications; and dissemination of lessons learned to engineers and the public.