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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

Contact the Players

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Go On


navigate in the page--Purpose

  • To get participants and decisonmakers on board
  • To begin working with cooperators, partners, interested parties, and the public
  • To assemble a core team


navigate in the page--Why?

Assembling a core team early will help reserve internal resources for your activity when you need them.

External players help:

  • Acquire perspectives and insights
  • Gain resources
  • Build an open process to promote credibility
  • Avoid conflicts later

The core team can also help identify other experts that may be needed and will help coordinate interdisciplinary activities.


navigate in the page--How?

Work through the network of participants already identified and involved to broaden your base of contacts--they will know what community participants, political leaders, potential partners, and technical experts need to be contacted.

Identify the Players

Don't raise expectations unduly now. People might expect immediate action and quit in disgust when nothing happens for a long time. (like, one month)

Think about key players and opinion makers in the following groups:

  • Within Reclamation (Who has the expertise?)
  • Cooperating partners (Who can help?)
  • Other Federal agencies (Who is mandated to help?)
  • State and local governments (Who has jurisdiction?)
  • Organizations (Who has an interest?)
  • Individuals (Who has expressed interest?)
  • Community (How can you reach others in the community?)
  • Water districts, utilities, etc. (How do they perceive the issues?)
  • Local associations (What are their interests?)
  • Consultants (What other help will you need?)

Assemble a Core Team

Keep track of who is coming and going.

The core team consists of technical experts and decisionmakers. You may have people from cooperating agencies and partners on the team. This team will do most of the analysis and evaluation. The core team will probably change as the process evolves. To make an initial cut, talk with many experts who can help determine what analyses and skills will be needed. Based on this, estimate the level of participation for various groups and times.

Consider Interrelationships*

Consider and define the interrelationships of staffs involved--particularly if they are coming from different sources (e.g., partners, Area Offices, Technical Service Center, Washington, and contractors). Meeting with counterparts in different agencies would be very helpful.

Get Input

At times, participants don't understand the value or place of other contributions. Sometimes, they consider their own area exclusively. It is important to show everyone the larger picture so that participants can interact with others and contribute to the whole effort.

Include Mandated Participants

Some publics have a mandate to be involved (e.g., if Indian Trust Assets might be involved, contact the affected Native Americans; if endangered species might be involved, contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service).


If participants can get beyond their narrow expertise, they can offer a great deal to others. For example, a fisheries biologist can offer insightful ideas on hydrologic models from a different perspective.

Begin Interacting with Participants

Keep communication lines open.

Methods of interaction vary. Holding meetings, conference calls, setting up electronic bulletin boards are only a few of the possible methods at this introductory stage.

Get back with participants on a regular basis--ask how they want to interact with the process (e.g., How much information do they want to receive, when, and in what format? How do they want to be involved?).

Communicating informally will help set reasonable expectations now.

Identify the Decisionmakers

Make a broad, preparatory determination of what decisions will be needed and at what stage of the process. Then meet with the participants to hammer out which decisions will be made when, how they'll be made, and which decisionmakers will have the authority to make them. If participants can agree on who will make the ultimate decision that solves the problem, they are much more likely to support the solution. Decisionmakers will probably be both internal and external, and they will vary with the actions and participants involved. Communicate and confirm this preliminary identification with the decisionmakers. These decision points will be refined throughout the process.

Make sure decisionmakers support the action or the process will die here. Keep managers informed and seek their advice on what resources are needed and how to proceed at key junctures.


navigate in the page--Go On

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