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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

Executive Summary Tour

Take this tour to quickly gauge what decision processes involve.
go through page Directions / Background / Concepts / Steps / Go On

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navigate in the page--Directions:

Click on the first line of this itinerary. Then scroll through that page. At the bottom of the page will be an icon you can follow --either back to this itinerary or follow the next page on that tour.

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navigate in the page--Decision Process Background

This tour discusses the decision process backdrop, what to watch out for, and how to handle major difficulties.

These points illustrate the unique context of decisionmaking in Reclamation.

Reclamation's role.
As an agency in the executive branch, Reclamation's purpose is to enhance the quality of life of the people served--environmentally and economically.
Defining Success.
Success isn't whether we build a facility, it's whether we meet people's needs, taking into account their diverse values*definition.
Who will make and take responsibility for decisions needs to be agreed on.

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navigate in the page--Decision Concepts

Bring these concepts out of the background and conscientiously use them to solve problems.

The nexus of the process--it brings everyone and everything together to focus all participants' efforts on getting the job done without surprises.
Provide the resources, spread the risk, and ensure support.
Everyone is not going to agree wholeheartedly. Focus on the opposition and work with their concerns to gain grudging acceptance.
The game of power cannot be ignored or black boxed. Political concerns and influences are an intregal part of the process.
The philosophy behind our actions and role.
Overt as well as hidden agendas need to be explicitly considered.
Not all priority ones require or get the same resources.
Recognizing everyone's risks allows participants to understand what's at stake and work together.
To succeed, plan for and work with the only constant.
Hurdles Chart
Ways to apply the concepts covered above.

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navigate in the page--Decision Process Steps

These steps consciously apply a systematic process instead of taking one for granted or reacting to the situation. Using decision analysis will help tailor these actions to the process. There is nothing sacred about the number of steps--only the actions required. In fact, most of these steps will be applied simultaneously--use worksheets to hang concepts at the right step to get an overall view.

spiralThe decision process is not linear--you may reach the same point but at a different level of detail. This is not a lock-step process. Rather, as in driving, the steps flow together into a smooth action.

Before Funding
Identify problems and examine contexts to get funding and authority.
Before Starting
Make sure the problem is defined, the context and ground rules are agreed upon, and players are in place.
Step 1: Needs.
Examine the existing knowledge base and gather additional necessary data. Identify the area of influence ( problemshed ), the existing limitations (legal, physical, etc.), and the issues and concerns through public involvement and scoping. Catalogue the various perceptions of needs from various publics.
Step 2: Objectives.
Determine the objectives (those needs that your process may help to meet). You may need to spend some time separating out underlying real needs from stated positions. The rest of the decision process will focus on meeting these objectives.
Step 3: Resources and constraints.
Figure out what you have to work with and what the boundaries of the study are. Determine the relationships and influences between available resources (physical, social, and political). These resources provide a reality check--- they determine how you will be able to meet the objectives.
Step 4: Options.
Brainstorm options or components of solutions. These will provide multiple ways to address each objective. Consider all options presented at this point--they'll be winnowed down later.
Step 5: Screening criteria
Determine standards that each option must meet in order to work and weed out fatal flaws. Apply the criteria to each option consistently to develop a set of viable options.
Step 6: Alternatives
Combine options to form alternatives. Develop a wide range of alternatives, including no action. Check each alternative to ensure that it meets the objectives.
Step 7: Evaluation
Develop evaluation criteria to rank the alternatives. Perform analyses and weigh tradeoffs to compare alternatives.
Step 8: Selection
Present the analyses to the decisionmaker and the public. The decisionmaker then selects a workable alternative and explains the rationale to the public.
Step 9: Implementation
Identify and fund responsible implementors to carry out the decision. Find and communicate with newly affected and interested publics.
Step 10: Follow up
Make sure the solution continues to work by providing for maintenance and operation of physical structures and administration of institutional solutions. Examine the situation and modify the solution when necessary. Afterwards, discuss the decision process and let others know what worked and what didn't. Carry these lessons over into future problem-solving efforts.

Celebrate Success
You deserve it.
End Tour

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navigate in the page--Go On

GeneralReading Aids


PreviousDiscussion Groups

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