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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


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navigate in the page--The Process

The decision process is about finding workable alternatives, making responsible decisions, and translating those decisions into reality. As a decisionmaker, you must make conscious choices to:

Base your decision on what will work best to meet the needs in this situation with the current objectives . Based on your mission and policy, work with politics and agendas to solve problems. Understand that circumstances will change and you will need to revisit decisions.

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navigate in the page--Decision Making Weather

You may have to work in both pro-active and re-active climates at the same time.

Much the same as weather, a series of factors will influence how the decision process is approached. Without trying to take the analogy too far, we can easily recognize that the procedures used and solutions found are influenced by the climate in which you operate. These will not affect what is done as much as how things are done. To determine the climate, ask:

  • What is your credibility level?
  • How free and confident do groups feel to contact you about issues?
  • What is your level of contact with them?
  • How accurate, relevant, and up-to-date is their information?
  • How many sides have they heard from?

The more communication and credibility, the more pro-active the climate.

A Pro-Active Climate

In a pro-active climate, you can base the decision on what best fits the situation to effectively solve the problem. Keep everyone informed of your rationale and ask for their input. Continue to build working relationships with key publics and participants by ensuring that they hear from you (about both good and bad news ) before they hear from anyone else. Make sure someone contacts them regularly throughout selection, implementation, and followup. This will:

  • Get the information you need
  • Create consent for this solution
  • Build needed support in future actions

A Re-Active Climate

click for comics(Be careful what you wish for)

A re-active climate means that your decision will be made for you. Try to identify which influences will drive the decision and let people behind these influences know the facts. This is crucial, as they will probably have formed opinions without information. This misinformation will lead to selected actions that will not solve the problem and will lead to a morass of controversy and inaction. Help provide the answers they need for their constituents. Work to become a reliable, credible data source by providing all the information both positive and negative. Highlighting negative information will also show that you are aware of and are addressing the constituents' concerns. Political people may not be willing to listen or understand, or they may have already chosen sides and are unwilling to change. In this case, focus on long-term objectives to build working relationships rather than being sidetracked by bumps in the system.

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navigate in the page--Taking Risks

Consciously making a decision to bow out is a valid path based on relevant factors. "Discretion is the better part of valor," said the dwarf withdrawing from the troll*definition , just before dawn.

People took risks and worked hard to get the process to the decision point. Either ignoring their input or silently bowing out will:

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navigate in the page--Getting Frostbite


Not making a decision is actually making a decision not to solve the problem. Cowardly backing away without an explanation is like running away from the dragon and tripping on your own sword. You get killed, your horse gets killed, and the dragon is that much stronger.

Keep an eye out for decisions that need to be made. In the action plan, set up points where decisions are needed and who will make them. Take action so that solutions can happen and the efforts put into the process are not wasted. At the very least, explain what the delay is and when action may occur. Use your communication lines and communicate so participants are not neglected. The following is a list of valid actions which can freeze the process if taken to the extreme:

Formal Reviews
A few reviews are required to ensure needed perspectives and buy-off. Determine who really needs to sign off on a review and focus on those key people.
Solicitor/Legal Reviews
Use these reviews as a way of clarifying issues to reach a decision when or if consultations are unsuccessful. The more consent and less opposition you can develop in the process, the less likelihood of litigation.
If you need more data and it is significant enough to be worth the cost, get it.

Too many repetitions of analysis or reviews will simply repeat the same information. Additional formal reviews, delaying with legal reviews or technical analysis without new information indicates the conclusions are unpopular and someone is ducking responsibility. If the findings are credible, they need to be released. If the decision is based on other factors, those factors need to be brought out to stand on their own.

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navigate in the page--Go On

Handyman's Tourcompass for handyman's tour ----->Action Plan

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GeneralKeep On Track


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