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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


go through page Recognizing / Working / Go On /

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navigate in the page--Recognizing Risk

People take risks*definition whether or not they take action. To gather support for your process, understand the risks that participants will be taking. Lay out the advantages a disadvantages of addressing the problem. Be as frank and as open as possible. The chance for an effective solution, an enhanced reputation or credibility , and cooperation on other projects may be enough to outweigh the risks from the participant's perspective.

Working on a project requires taking a stand on an issue even if the stand is merely that it would be worthwhile to find a solution. People invest their political influence, professional expertise, resources, or social standing when they agree to work on a project and, thus, weigh the risks before committing themselves.

Decisionmakers and internal participants may also hesitate to act or to adopt innovative approaches to solve the problem. Internal participants or teams may be afraid of:

  • Change (We have never done it that way.)
  • Disagreements (Mr. Y may not like that.)
  • Losing control (The data might be interpreted or used in a different context.)
  • Credibility (We may be held accountable for preliminary data that may be incorrect.)
  • Commitment (We might be held to promises that later may be infeasible.)

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navigate in the page--Working With Risk

The easiest way to avoid risk is to do and say nothing. Unfortunately, this may simply invite other risks and compound the problem. Bring a particular risk out in the open and explore the possibilities to help avoid or lessen the risk. The methods listed below are only a few me asures to acknowledge and work with risk for both external and internal participants.

  • Assess the value of the action. (Is it worth taking the risk?)
  • Consider the consequences of NOT taking the action --you may lose credibility,
  • Determine what risks you and your agency are taking. and participants may lose faith in the process.
  • Join in partnerships to spread out the risk
  • Explain why the problem must be addressed
  • Recognize who is taking the risk.
  • Quantify the risk others are taking--weigh the positives and negatives.
  • Explain the need for them to take the risk. (Others might not see what you see as obvious.)
  • Be as open, upfront, and honest about the risk as possible.
  • Recognize that various groups have differing agendas and that people will disagree.
  • Build flexibility into plans and schedules to adapt to changes.

Risk and uncertainty should be considered at all stages of the decisionmaking process as appropriate to the level of detail.


Have the courage to take risks when you think it is appropriate and worthwhile to do so.

Have the courage to explain why you are not taking a risk if you think it is not appropriate or worthwhile.

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navigate in the page--Go On

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

Handyman's Tourcompass for handyman's tour Politics <----> Limitations

Helpful Hints Tour wizbang help here Hidden Agendas <-------> End tour

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GeneralHip Pocket Concepts

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