Flowers wants Regional
Business Centers
at each division.

The chief of the Corps of Engineers has set in motion a massive overhaul of the 35,000-person organization that aims to make it more efficient and less divided into hierarchical "stovepipes." With the plan, issued in final form on Oct. 7, the Corps' chief, Lt. Gen. Robert B. Flowers, says he wants the Corps to become "a team of teams."

Flowers says, "This has tremendous potential for us to provide better service and be more the public. I know the concepts work and I know the basis is sound."

Unlike past restructuring plans, this one will not close any of the Corps' eight divisions, 41 districts or other offices. It will result in a heightened role for the divisions and aims for greater coordination among the districts in each division.

It also will reduce the 2,100-person workforce at Washington headquarters and the eight divisions by as many as 230 positions, or 6%, when the program is fully in place.


In the final version, Flowers dropped two proposal from an August draft: One would have done away with the requirement that local project sponsors put up a share (currently 50%) of the cost of feasibility studies. The other would have provided the Corps with an annual lump sum to fund reconnaissance studies, the earliest planning phase of a potential project. Each "recon" study now gets an individual, line-item allocation from Congress. Both of those ideas would have required approval from Capitol Hill.

Flowers wants to have the plan fully operational by next summer, when his four-year term as Chief of Engineers ends. A key element is establishing "Regional Business Centers" at each of the Corps divisions and aimed at having the districts under each division working more closely together.

Each of the regional centers will have a liaison team at headquarters. that headquarters group will be interdisciplinary, with people from such areas as civil engineering, legal, human resources and regulatory.

Each discipline within the Corps, such as architects, civil engineers, biologists, will have its own "community of practice," that will seek to bolster the group by, or example, keeping up with and disseminating the latest developments in its field.

Flowers says the elements of the program now are active in various places at the Corps, but not yet across the organization.

(Photo courtesy of Corps of Engineers)