2019 – Dam Safety Maturity Matrix to Evaluate Health of USACE Dam Safety Program

Jacob Davis, P.E. , David Blackmore, P.E.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has a robust Dam Safety Program (DSP) that utilizes risk- informed decision-making to prioritize its portfolio of dams in need of further study and modifications. USACE also utilizes a two-tiered governance structure in which one body makes portfolio recommendations around risk management while the other body oversees the execution of the agency’s routine DSP and makes policy recommendations. The routine program consists of the activities required for interim risk reduction measures, inspections, instrumentation, monitoring, assessments, operations and maintenance, emergency action planning, training, and other dam safety activities. An internal program management tool exists to monitor and track all these activities and generate metrics around execution of the routine DSP, however, it does not include metrics around other aspects of the DSP like governance, asset management, public safety and security, flow controls, or audits/reviews. USACE hopes to identify gaps in its DSP that can be used to correct shortcomings, continuously improve, and to increase the resilience of its DSP, which will enable each project to deliver benefits to the Nation. The Centre for Energy Advancement through Technological Innovation (CEATI), through its Dam Safety Interest Group (DSIG), collaboratively developed a spreadsheet tool known as the Dam Safety Maturity Matrix (DSMM). The DSMM is a facilitated exercise used to help evaluate how well-developed a program is across 12 elements considered to be typical and important of most dam safety programs. Each of the elements is then deaggregated into sub-elements, each of which can be evaluated by the team. The maturity ranges across 5 levels from Needing Improvement to Leading Edge. After all sub-elements are evaluated, an aggregate maturity level is computed that gives an estimation of the overall maturity level of the program. USACE will present the results of its pilot project using the DSMM and share lessons learned regarding its implementation. The short-term goal is to identify program strengths and areas for improvement, while the long-term goal of USACE using the DSMM is to participate in bench- marking across multiple agencies and international dam owners regarding their dam safety programs, for which has never been done to the knowledge of this author.

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