First Advisor

Sheldon Edner

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




United States -- Water Resources Development Act of 1986, Water resources development -- United States -- Finance, Policy sciences



Physical Description

4, viii, 314 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


Implementation research, an area once largely ignored in favor of policy design and impact assessment, now constitutes a significant portion of the policy analysis literature. One of the key issues addressed by the theory building portion of that literature is the necessity of precisely identifying implementation variables, conditions, or actions that measurably contribute to the success or failure of implementation efforts over a broad range of policies and programs, and to then suggest some order of significance. In order to test the validity of a variable set proposed by the literature, a multivariate implementation model was employed as the basis of a case study designed to conduct both a process and impact analysis of the implementation of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (WRDA 86).

Implementation of the WRDA 86 was selected for this research as it offered an opportunity to investigate implementation of a significant policy change in an established policy arena , the water resource development industry. Following ten years of failure to achieve agreement on an omnibus water resource appropriation, passage of the WRDA 86 was widely perceived to have signaled a new era of water resource development for the nation. It will likely be a period characterized by the transfer of the financial burden of planning, construction, and maintenance of water resource projects from the Federal government to the non-Federal sponsor/beneficiary. The transfer will be achieved by application of cost-sharing formulas contained in WRDA 86 and affirmed in subsequent biannual omnibus water resource development legislation.

Cost-sharing and similar beneficiary-pay principles had long been considered as an efficient alternative to water resource programs which relied principally on Federal funding owing to the long held assumption that the benefit from such projects were so "widespread and general" as to be in the national interest. Incorporation of cost-sharing principles in water resource legislation ensured that appropriation language would require local project beneficiaries to assume a larger portion of project costs. In addition to the assumption that application of the principles would lead to economically efficient projects it was also argued that cost-sharing and increased local sponsor input would lead to smaller projects that better reflected local need, projects with greater emphasis on environmental concerns, and the construction of projects in stages or phases.

The research proceeded with an implementation process analysis to test the model's assumption that specific variables or conditions may be identified as having the greatest significance in the achievement of successful implementation. Furthermore, the study attempted to determine whether identified groups at different "levels" of the implementation hierarchy would rank specified variables consistently or result in a finding that variable criticality rankings tend to reflect one's position within the hierarchy.

Study outcomes did not confirm the model's assertion with respect to which variables were most critical. This finding may have reflected the fact that conditions thought to be most critical by the model, clear legal directives and legislation that reflects sound theory, were largely issues that had been thoroughly discussed and resolved prior to enactment of the legislation. Position within the hierarchy appeared to influence the rater's assignment of variable criticality though not to a statistically significant degree. The differences, however, were intuitively consistent and their basis supported by secondary survey data. This finding suggests that future implementation studies need to carefully examine the role of hierarchical position and intergovernmental interdependencies in theory development.

With respect to the impact analysis, it was determined that cost sharing would have a demonstrable impact on resulting projects in a variety of areas. Future cost-shared water resource development projects will likely be smaller on average than past projects though the precise impact of cost-sharing is indeterminable. Projects may result in less impact on the environment but largely as a result of reduced size rather than the additional environmental input of local sponsors. Phased and staged construction of large projects will be more likely, particularly where project benefits and revenue streams may be partially captured by incremental construction.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL

Persistent Identifier