necessary coordination through the unification of policy governing the actions of existing agencies, or of a single agency should such be adopted. This unification of policy should be assured through enactment of a single national water resources policy law …” (President’s Water Resources Policy Commission, 1950).
More recently, a report from the National Commission for the Public Service (NCPS, 2003) reviewed the federal government’s structure and explained the phenomenon of expanding agency missions and increasing sophistication and demands:
In this technological age, the government’s widening span of interests inevitably leads to complications as organizations need to coordinate policy implementation. But as things stand, it takes too long to get even the clearest policies implemented. There are too many decisionmakers, too much central clearance, too many bases to touch, and too many overseers with conflicting agendas…. The system has evolved not by plan or considered analysis but by accretion over time, politically inspired tinkering, and neglect…governmental reorganization has come to be viewed as a task so daunting, requiring such extensive and excruciating political negotiations, that it takes a national emergency to bring it about.
This quote explains well the current situation in federal water policy, as the Corps and several other agencies with water-related responsibilities conduct their respective programs and duties without a high-level body to ensure coordination, efficiency, and clear articulation of lines of authority. Since the Water Resources Council was zero-funded in the early 1980s, administrations have chosen to promote federal water-related programs without a formal coordinating body. Over this period, many analysts and committees, including a previous National Research Council committee that reviewed Corps planning (NRC, 1999a), have recommended the establishment of a federal water coordinating body (or a reinvigorated Water Resources Council). Before then, the value of a body to ensure interagency commission was recognized.
The National Water Commission Act of 1968 established a National Water Commission of seven distinguished nongovernmental members. In its 1973 report, the commission identified, in seven thematic areas, water resources issues that were likely to arise as the nation developed its