Authorizations for these agreements originated in Section 214 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (WRDA 2000, Public Law No. 106-541). This law, as amended, allows the Corps to accept funds from non-federal public entities to provide priority review of their permit applications. Section 214 of WRDA 2000 reads as follows:
- IN GENERAL. In Fiscal Years 2001 through 2003, the Secretary (of the Army), after public notice, may accept and expend funds contributed by non-federal public entities to expedite the evaluation of permits under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Army.
- EFFECT ON PERMITTING. In carrying out this section, the Secretary shall ensure that the use of funds accepted under subsection (a) will not impact impartial decision making with respect to permits, either substantively or procedurally.
This authority to enter in to these agreements was extended under House if Representatives Bill HR 6184 (PL 111-315) until December 31, 2016.
The Secretary of the Army has delegated this responsibility to the Chief of Engineers and his authorized representatives, including the Commander of the Galveston District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Non-federal public entities are comprised of state and local governmental agencies and Indian tribal governments. They include, but are not limited to, local transportation agencies, port authorities, flood and storm water management agencies, and governmental economic development agencies.
The Corps’ Regulatory Program is funded as a congressionally appropriated line item in the annual Federal budget. Additional funds received by the Galveston District from a non-Federal public entity are used to augment the Galveston District Regulatory budget, in accordance with the provisions of WRDA 2000 and EWDA 2004. Funds are used primarily to hire additional staff to expedite the evaluation of permit applications designated by the non-Federal public entity.
To ensure agreements will not impact impartial decision-making process, the following procedures have been established:
- All final permit decisions for cases where these funds are used must be reviewed at least by one level above the decision maker, unless the decision maker is the district commander.
- All final permit decisions for cases where these funds are used will be made available on the Galveston District website.
- The Corps will not eliminate any procedures or decisions that would otherwise be required for that type of project and permit application under consideration.
- The Corps will comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
- Funds will only be expended to provide priority review of the participating non-federal entity’s permit application.
For more information on these types of agreements, please see the Federal Guidance titled: Implementation Guidance for WRDA 214 dated Oct. 1, 2009
Additional Information on WRDA 214 agreements may be found on the Corps Headquarters Section 214 web page.