Corps of Engineers Natural Resources Management (NRM) Gateway: Communities “in” Practice

Corps of Engineers Natural Resources Management (NRM) Gateway: Communities “in” Practice

Bonnie F. Bryson
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-976-2.ch014
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This chapter describes the development of a knowledge management-based website that serves a community of practice within a federal agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Natural Resources Management Community of Practice. Content development workshops that are conducted as an effective method of creating new content and updating existing content on the website are also described. This successful model may be used by other agencies and organizations to develop and share organizational information in an easily retrievable manner.
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This chapter describes the development and maintenance of content in a knowledge management-based website to support a public sector organization’s community of practice (CoP). The Natural Resources Management (NRM) Gateway is a website where the NRM CoP integrates its people, policies, programs and practices. The NRM CoP is part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or Corps), America’s largest federal provider of water-based recreation, spanning 42 states and over 450 lakes and river systems (USACE, 2006b). Organizationally, the NRM CoP is a part of a larger Corps Operations and Regulatory CoP. The NRM CoP’s diverse responsibilities are described in the following mission statement:

The Army Corps of Engineers is the steward of the lands and waters at Corps water resources projects. Its Natural Resources Management Mission is to manage and conserve those natural resources, consistent with ecosystem management principles, while providing quality public outdoor recreation experiences to serve the needs of present and future generations.

In all aspects of natural and cultural resources management, the Corps promotes awareness of environmental values and adheres to sound environmental stewardship, protection, compliance and restoration practices.

The Corps manages for long-term public access to, and use of, the natural resources in cooperation with other Federal, State, and local agencies as well as the private sector.

The Corps integrates the management of diverse natural resource components such as fish, wildlife, forests, wetlands, grasslands, soil, air, and water with the provision of public recreation opportunities. The Corps conserves natural resources and provides public recreation opportunities that contribute to the quality of American life.” (USACE, 1996, p. 2-1).

The NRM CoP has three distinct business areas of expertise and responsibility, although many staff members manage some or all of the three within their assigned geographic region: Recreation, Environmental Stewardship, and Environmental Compliance. Each of these business areas traditionally had their own organizational stovepipes for providing information to staff in the 400+ field offices across the nation. Partnerships represent a fourth area of expertise and responsibility that are incorporated within each of the previously listed business areas. The NRM Gateway blurs the lines and provides information to managers regardless of the business area or organizational structure, and emphasizes partnerships within the business lines.

The NRM Gateway website initiative primarily targets the NRM CoP staff, comprised of over 3,000 Resource and Operation Managers, Rangers, Environmental Compliance, Environmental Stewardship (Foresters, Fisheries Biologists, etc.) Specialists, Contract, and Administration staff (USACE, 2006c). The initial design of the NRM Gateway was to provide “information the way managers manage.” Besides the NRM CoP, the Gateway serves citizens through visitor pages that describe recreation opportunities at Corps lakes.The NRM Gateway objectives (USACE, 2005) are to:

  • Serve the needs of the NRM CoP, while integrating it into the larger scheme of the recreation and travel industry, environmental stewardship and environmental compliance arenas and the larger agency CoP (see Figure 1);

  • Preserve institutional knowledge;

  • Develop practical and agency-approved webpages that provide useful and easily retrievable corporate information for the NRM CoP and enhanced citizen access to information about Corps public use facilities;

  • Integrate policies, standards, program histories, best management practices and lessons learned to support organizational learning;

  • Incorporate new technology such as Webcasting and collaborative software to enhance CoP communication; and

  • Incorporate budgeting tools to support NRM initiatives.

    Figure 1.

    Community circles instead of stovepipes


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