Key Performance Indicators of River Basin Organizations


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Publication Title

Key Performance Indicators of River Basin Organizations

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Publication Date

August 2006


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Abstract/Executive Summary

This report discusses the results of a study undertaken in a Universities Council on Water Resources Fellowship with the Institute for Water Resources, US Army Corps of Engineers to measure the effectiveness of river basin organizations.

The aims of the study were to:

  • Develop general performance indicators of river basin management organizations’ ability to undertake integrated river basin management (IRBM) which is taken to mean implementing integrated water resources management at the basin scale, and
  • Apply the general indicators to selected US river basins and recommend their application there and elsewhere.

Based on the concepts of integrated water resources management, integrated river basin management and performance assessment, this report discusses the development and application of a method to identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for river basin organizations (RBOs). The performance indicators were developed from a suite of good governance factors, assembled from the reviews of consultants’ practical experiences in river basin management, peer-reviewed literature, government reports and policy statements, and reports of river basin management practice. Applications of the general performance indicators were undertaken at different levels, including river basin commissions; a Corps of Engineers district project and a UNESCO HELP basin project; Corps of Engineers strategic directions such as in the Civil Works Strategic Plan 2004-2009; and treaty/compact basins. The outcome of the study was a template of general performance indicators for measuring the ability of river basin organizations to implement integrated water resources management. The study provides 115 indicators for mature/auto- adaptive RBOs. These were grouped into ten categories: • coordinated decision-making • responsive decision-making • goals, goal shift and goal completion • financial sustainability • organizational design • role of law • training and capacity building • information and research • accountability and monitoring • private and public sector roles The report also includes a method to self-identify the stage of auto-adaptiveness of a river basin organization, a method for river basin commissions to apply the key performance indicators to their own organization, and so develop their own Key Performance Indicators, and a scorecard for individual projects. This report discusses policy issues related to integrated water resources management and river basin management in the USA, the need to strengthen the role of the Corps of Engineers to become the nation’s IWRM/basin management leader and next steps in the use of the indicators developed in the study. Keywords: river basin organization, integrated river basin management, performance indicator

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

1.0 Introduction and aims of the study

2.0 River Basin Governance

2.1 Integrated Water Resources Management

2.2 Integrated River Basin Management

2.3 IRBM principles

2.4 IRBM functions

2.5 Organizational performance Indicators

3.0 River Basin Organizations

3.1 Types of river basin organizations

4.0 Derivation of General Performance Indicators for River Basin Organizations

4.1 Methods

4.2 Results

5.0 Application of General Performance Indicators to US Conditions

5.1 Selecting context dependent performance indicators

5.2 Application to river basin commissions

5.3 Application to a Corps of Engineers valley-scale (sub-basin) project and a UNESCO HELP basin

5.4 Application to the Strategic New Directions and the Civil Works Program of the US Army Corps of Engineers

5.5 Application to international basin compacts and treaties

5.6 Constraints and opportunities for national application of indicators

6.0 Discussion

6.1 US river basin management

6.2 Towards Corps of Engineers’ leadership in basin management

7.0 Next steps



See also

External Resources


 Key Performance Indicators of River Basin Organizations.pdf

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