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This information is intended to convey the underlying concepts for Reclamation's decision processes. It is not mandatory.
See the Reclamation Manual for official Reclamation-wide requirements.

Reclamation's Decision Process Guide

Hurdles Chart

go through page Chart / Go On

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navigate in the page--Hurdles Chart

Use the hurdles chart in conjunction with reality checks and regular stock taking to determine what may be delaying your process--and what you might do about it.


Ways to jump over them

Loss of funding

Determine if the project warrants further support. If not, revisit the problem; if so, explain the situation. If the project is actively supported, participants can ask Congress for funding and seek other funding sources.

Uncertain directions for the study

Propose a direction and purpose for the study.

Ask participants to revise it.

Get management (e.g., Regional Director, Commissioner, Secretary, Congress) agreement on the modified proposal.

Make sure the authority and mission allow for proposed directions.

Multiple agencies with conflicting policies and priorities


Make sure everyone understands other issues and perspectives.

Reach agreements on basic objectives and ground rules.

See if politics and priorities can change.

Unfocused management or leadership

Request clarification from leadership by drafting a statement of goals and actions for leaders to revise.

Different groups at different stages of understanding

Communicate with each group to assess the level of awareness and understanding.

Spend time to educate all groups and promote group interaction so that most are at the same level.

Parties entering in at different stages in the study

Be prepared to bring each group or individual up to speed as they become involved.

Keep a basic information packet (including your action plan) current and provide it to everyone involved.

Conflicting or uncertain priorities

Write out what you see as the priorities and ask management/leadership/other partners to clarify these priorities.

Uncertain motivation, competing for team members time and attention.

Set a schedule for completion of tasks and confirm it with all participants.

Determine program's overall priority with decisionmakers

Work with supervisors to schedule resources

Determine what can be done on a catch-as-castch-csan basis (and regularly remind team members of these secondary tasks)

Loss of morale or purpose among participants

Employ team building techniques.

Clarify objectives.

Celebrate successes so far.

Break the tasks down into doable parts. Use innovation (bring donuts, informal appreciative awards, "round tuitsdefinition," etc.)


Communicate--figure out why people are not participating.

Briefly explain where we are, where we are going, and why.

Request participation. Replace nonparticipants if possible.

Communicate with the supervisors of internal nonparticipants to ascertain the difficulty.

Clarify consequences of nonparticipation for both core team members and external players.

Make it clear that the process will continue.

Locked into a solution before analysis

Go back and clearly establish the need and purpose for the process (e.g., is the action really to build a dam or to provide a water supply?)

Unrealistic objectives

Redefine objectives to be meaningful and realistic within the problem's context.

Go to the decisionmakers, team members, and other participants to confirm the modified objectives

More than one vision of the objective

Unify the participants around one or more objectives.

Clearly communicate what each participant sees as the objective.

Review the authority and context. Remember that you can't address every need.

Unrealistic constraints

Propose changing the constraints (e.g., propose changing regulations or laws).

Explain why constraints are unrealistic and benefits that may arise from lifting constraints or compromising to work around constraints.

Get "buy in" from participants.

Unavailable resources

Request resources from decisionmakers--explain why you need them.

Obtain resources through leadership/management or by adding other groups.

Think about partnerships or groups addressing similar issues.

Conflicting definitions of terms

Create a glossary of terms for all participants. Use interactive meetings to revise and agree on these definitions.

Question assumptions. For example, "natural resources" , "aesthetics", and "water quality " mean very different things to different groups--yet each group assumes the other means the same thing they do.

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navigate in the page--Go On

Executive Summary Tour Take this car on a fast tour Change <------> Before Funding

Helpful Hints Tourwizbang help here Handling Failure <-----> Decision Analysis

Handyman's Tourcompass for handyman's tour Take Stock/Review <-----> Documentation

Dragon Tour wide-eyed dragon on the loose Bad News <-----> Politics




Please contact Deena Larsen 303-445-2584 with questions or comments on this material.