VICKSBURG, Miss. – With the release of the Biden-Harris administration’s fiscal 2024 budget, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works held a joint press conference detailing the proposed civil works budget, including a historic $86 million for research and development with additional R&D funds spread across USACE business lines totaling more than $100 million for R&D.
The funding demonstrates the administration’s commitment to invest in science and innovation that will deliver enduring water resources solutions.
“This budget will also spur innovation by investing in research and development, ensuring we improve our capabilities to assess risk and aggressively confront the nation’s water resources challenges in a manner that broadly supports community resilience, tackles climate change and promotes equity for marginalized communities and tribal nations,” said Michael L. Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
“This is an absolute priority for the president and this administration and is certainly one that Mr. Connor and I share as well,” said Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, 55th Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the USACE.
Thanking the experts at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) for helping “make the argument” for such a historic budget proposal, Spellmon said, “It will allow us to further push the boundaries of science to develop practical engineering solutions while researching new tools and techniques that will help us learn new and improved ways of solving the nation’s water resources challenges.”
The ERDC is USACE’s premier research and development center. USACE Civil Works R&D contributes to the strength of the nation by providing innovative and environmentally sustainable solutions to the nation’s water resources challenges in navigation, flood and coastal risk reduction and the environment. R&D also provides technologies to advance USACE hydropower and water supply missions, helps improve the safety and resiliency of communities and infrastructure and helps manage existing water resources infrastructure sustainably in the face of expected climate change, land use change, invasive and nuisance species, demographic shifts and aging infrastructure, along with the broadening benefits of research in the area of environmental justice.
“We are incredibly excited about the future of research and development across the Corps of Engineers,” said Dr. David Pittman, who serves in a dual role as director of ERDC and director of research and development for USACE. “Our experts work each day to provide cutting-edge, innovative solutions to our nation’s toughest challenges, and we will continue to use the power of ERDC to make our world safer and better.”
The challenges of today and tomorrow are not like yesterday. From droughts and wildfires across the western states, to the increasingly frequent disasters faced by communities across the country, many water resources challenges of the 21st century are complex and interconnected. The nation needs integrated engineering solutions based on the best available science and technology to solve the toughest water resources challenges today and in the future.
“The focus of this work will be to improve predictive capabilities, improve engineering capabilities —including the use of nature — and technologically improving our processes wherever possible,” Connor said. “These efforts have a significant potential to meet emerging challenges and achieve significant cost savings in the civil works program.”