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ASCE Adopts New Post-disaster Assessment Manual
September 11, 2009

A new manual that outlines polices and procedures for conducting engineering assessments in the wake of natural and human-caused disasters has been adopted by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The Post-Disaster Assessment Manual was developed by ASCE’s Task Committee on Engineering Review Procedures (TCERP) in response to a recommendation from an independent task force that the Society’s procedures for such assessments be compiled into a single, readily accessible source. The task force, led by retired congressman and the former chair of the House Science Committee Sherwood Boehlert, was commissioned in late 2007 to review how the Society participates in engineering studies of national significance.

ASCE’s purpose in doing such assessments is twofold. First, the behavior of engineered facilities that have been exposed to extreme forces must be evaluated so that engineers may learn from the disaster. Then, and perhaps more importantly, those lessons learned must be documented to inform the future actions of both the profession and society.

When developing the manual TCERP assessed not only ASCE’s longstanding practices for such reviews, but also the practices of more than 20 other organizations. The resulting document provides a single, comprehensive source for policies and procedures governing every aspect of post-disaster assessments, including: criteria for launching an assessment; funding mechanisms; selection of team leaders and members; team responsibilities; conflicts of interest; coordination with other organizations; schedules; staff support; public communications; and dissemination of lessons learned to engineers and the public.

A copy of the manual can be found on the ASCE website. For more information on ASCE assessments, including copies of resulting publications, visit the Task Force on Engineering Reviews section of the the ASCE website.

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