Bureau of Reclamation Banner
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

Take Stock

go through page Now / Action Plan / Players / Funding / Priorities / Go On

pretty border

Problem solving is really aiming at a moving target : re-group and re-aim every so often. This may be anything from a weekly to annual review, depending on the timing of meaningful events in your process. At times, a brief reality check is all tat is necessary. After major milestones , (e.g., completing a scoping, appraisal, or categorical exclusion analysis), a more detailed taking stock as explained below may be necessary. Taking stock will help find any missing gaps and make sure you are on top of changes. Use the answers from your review to re-plan your process and change your approach to be more effective. Decision analysis can help focus this review on problem solving.

pretty border

navigate in the page--What Is The Situation Now?


Just as you wouldn't build a house before laying the foundation , make sure the foundation is sound as you add the second story!

Circumstances keep changing. Look around at what is happening now and make sure you are still on track. A brief review answers the following questions with the core team:

  • Is the problem and needs statement still valid?
  • Is the problem and still serious and significant ? What about the boundaries (problemshed)?
  • Should we be involved? Is this something that participants feel we should be doing, given our constraints, priorities, contexts, other actions, etc?
  • Have we maintained communication so that the public is aware of why we are here and what we are doing? What are the changes in the publics and in our actions?
  • Is our list of concerns of the core team and participants still relevant ? Has anything changed?
  • Do participants, including affected publics, understand what we are addressing and the changes?
  • Have associated national interests changed?
  • Have any issues changed? Are there new issues? Have we listed everything we will address and explained why we are not addressing the other issues?
  • What steps do we need to revisit (e.g., adding more needs, changing the screening criteria, creating more options)?

Some stages in your process will require more detailed review.

pretty border

navigate in the page--Where Is Your Action Plan?

A thorough, updated action plan can serve as a reality check for decisionmakers and participants. This is a go/no go question-- do you have a problem that is still worth solving and falls within Reclamation's role? If not, either quit , regroup, or reformulate actions.

Because there can be significant delays between developing objectives and developing alternatives , revisit the action plan and determine if all the information is still valid and complete. Update the plan where necessary and share the updates with all participants and decisionmakers. Does the action plan cover purpose, problem definition and boundaries, roles and relationships among participants, schedules , milestones , actions to take, and decision points? The following questions can focus your check:

  • Does the action fit the authority and level of funding ? What is our overall budget?
  • Does everyone understand the purpose, funding and authority, and existing relationships and limitations ?
  • What are the expectations? Why are we doing this?
  • Who is participating? Who will do what, when, and why?
  • What is the timeframe ? When do we need actions and decisions?
  • Who will do the work? How will we communicate and document actions?
  • What agreements will be reached?
  • What decisions will be made and who will make them? Are the decisionmakers involved in the process?
  • What level of detail will be necessary to make these decisions?
  • Are we still addressing the problem in a reasonable manner given these changes?

pretty border

navigate in the page--Check With Players

Arbitrary assumptions*definition without reality checks are doomed to failure in both court and practice. Question your assumptions--you may uncover some surprising answers!

Create breathing spaces within the program to assess involvement. These could be between phases, between developing and evaluating alternatives, etc. Ask participants about others you may need to involve. Participants who no longer wish to be involved can bow out gracefully at this point. Are there any overlooked affected publics or interested individuals? Do you need more technical expertise? Are the proper decisionmakers involved? Keep relations cordial you may still need to borrow help!

Figure out where participants stand in the process. Where are everyone's perceptions and levels of awareness about the process? What is everyone's level of participation? How committed are people? Why? Understanding the background of human interactions will help shape actions and enable you to focus your resources effectively. Now is a good time to check on your communication network . Is there effective two-way communication between all participants? Talk with participants and find out:

Does everyone feel you have listened? Are communication lines and strategies fully in place and understood?

  • Does everyone understand the process (how they participate, when and how decisions will be made, etc.)? Does everyone know why this plan is necessary?
  • Does everyone understand the timeframe, milestones, and action plan?
  • How much support is there for the process? Have problems, conflicts, and changes been addressed to build a basis for consent?
  • Does everyone understand the expectations? Do they know what will be addressed and why?
  • Does everyone know who will make what decisions?
  • Does a strong opposition exist (either internally or externally)? If so, try to figure out why. Either re-examine your role or find ways to work with the opposition so they will not veto your process.

Find out what participants think of the process, environmental values and interrelationships, purpose, needs , objectives , and resources . Document and address comments.

pretty border

navigate in the page--Where Is Funding?

Check to ensure the budget is on track. Cost overruns are symptoms of larger problems--so dig in for root causes and fix problems as early as you can.

pretty border

navigate in the page--Where Are Priorities?

Check to see if the process still has the same priority. Participants will all have their own levels of priority, awareness , and participation , and keeping track helps define expectations and actions.

pretty border

navigate in the page--Go On

Handyman's Tourcompass for handyman's tour Analyses <--------------> Hurdles Chart

pretty border

GeneralKeep On Track

PreviousAction Plan

NextDecision Process Worksheets

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