RESTON, Va.—While expressing overall satisfaction with the technical competency and findings of the draft final version of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force’s (IPET) report, Performance Evaluation of the New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Protection System, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) External Review Panel (ERP)—a group organized to provide peer review of the IPET’s work—recently cautioned the USACE that until the risk assessment portion of their analysis is complete, fully informed, long-term development and safety decisions cannot be made for the city of New Orleans. Despite this urgent need for the risk assessment findings, the ERP also cautioned that work must be completed to a high level of defensibility before being released to the public.
"Over the course of our year-long review of the Corps’ investigation, the ERP has not identified any IPET finding that we believe contains a major technical flaw," said ERP Chair David E. Daniel, Ph.D., P.E., president of the University of Texas, Dallas. "However, due to its extreme importance to the public’s ability to decide if they feel it is safe enough to live in New Orleans, we continue to be concerned that the risk assessment portion of the analysis has yet to be completed."
Throughout the year-long process, the ERP has commended the USACE for subjecting its technical work to detailed external scrutiny by independent reviewers, and has appreciated the constructive and professional manner in which the ERP and the IPET have been able to interact. The ERP believes this process has served the citizens of New Orleans and Southeastern Louisiana, the USACE, and the nation well in understanding the causes of and consequences from the catastrophe brought on by Hurricane Katrina.
For more information on the ERP, or to read the full report, please visit www.asce.org. Additional information on the investigation and copies of previous reports and data can be found at https://ipet.wes.army.mil/.