Challenge Partnerships Program
The Challenge Partnership Program provides opportunities for non-federal public and private groups and individuals to contribute to, and participate in, the operation and/or management of recreation facilities and natural resources at water resource development projects. This program allows the Corps to accept funds, materials, personal property, equipment, and/or services following the approval of a Challenge Partnership Agreement, to accomplish work programs; however it does not permit the Corps to accept real estate from the partner, nor reimburse for services. At this time, USACE has no authority or mechanism to give funds directly to a non-federal partner through this program. The contributed resources are combined with regular project O&M resources to accomplish work within current authorities and contained in the annual or five-year plan in the approved operational management plan through this program. This provides a way to stretch the Corps budget by sharing costs. Work is generally accomplished during one fiscal year, but may be carried over several years. The Corps' Challenge Partnership Program is authorized by Public Law 102-580, Section 225 of 33 U.S.C 2328, Water Resources Development Act of 1992.
In 2002, the Challenge Cost Sharing program was renamed Challenge Partnerships, since challenge partnerships differ from traditional cost-sharing in several ways. Traditional cost-sharing agreements, which were authorized by Public Law 89-72 require a minimum of 50% partner funding for recreational management and 25% for fish and wildlife enhancement; administration of the lands and waters by the partner; and all costs of operation, maintenance, and replacement by the partner. Under the WRDA 1992 authority for challenge partnerships, there is no fixed rate of cost share. Flexible percentages are determined by mutual agreement between the Corps and the partners. Roles of each entity are also flexible. The Corps operates the area under the partnership under a flexible agreement. Work may involve multiple partners. Click here to see the comparison chart.
Challenge partnership agreements are also NOT the same as Project Cooperation Agreements, or Economy Act Orders.
Note: Challenge partnership agreements are NOT cooperative agreements as that term is used in the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977, 31 U.S.C. 6305 (FGCAA), nor are they subject to the DOD regulations governing cooperative agreements, including the requirement for execution by a certified grants officer. Although Sec 225 of 33 USC 2328 uses the term cooperative agreement, it involves a type of transaction not covered by the FGCAA. A cooperative agreement under the FGCAA involves transfer of funds (or other items) from the Federal Government to a non-Federal entity. Conversely, a challenge partnership agreement involves the acceptance of funds, materials, and services by the Federal Government.
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