33 CFR § 331.3 - Review officer.

§ 331.3 Review officer.

(a) Authority.

(1) The division engineer has the authority and responsibility for administering a fair, reasonable, prompt, and effective administrative appeal process. The division engineer may act as the review officer (RO), or may delegate, either generically or on a case-by-case basis, any authority or responsibility described in this part as that of the RO. With the exception of JDs, as described in this paragraph (a)(1), the division engineer may not delegate any authority or responsibility described in this part as that of the division engineer. For approved JDs only, the division engineer may delegate any authority or responsibility described in this part as that of the division engineer, including the final appeal decision. In such cases, any delegated authority must be granted to an official that is at the same or higher grade level than the grade level of the official that signed the approved JD. Regardless of any delegation of authority or responsibility for ROs or for final appeal decisions for approved JDs, the division engineer retains overall responsibility for the administrative appeal process.

(2) The RO will assist the division engineer in reaching and documenting the division engineer's decision on the merits of an appeal, if the division engineer has delegated this responsibility as explained in paragraph (a)(1) of this section. The division engineer has the authority to make the final decision on the merits of the appeal. Neither the RO nor the division engineer has the authority to make a final decision to issue or deny any particular permit nor to make an approved JD, pursuant to the administrative appeal process established by this part. The authority to issue or deny permits remains with the district engineer. However, the division engineer may exercise the authority at 33 CFR 325.8(c) to elevate any permit application, and subsequently make the final permit decision. In such a case, any appeal process of the district engineer's initial decision is terminated. If a particular permit application is elevated to the division engineer pursuant to 33 CFR 325.8(c), and the division engineer's decision on the permit application is a permit denial or results in a declined permit, that permit denial or declined permit would be subject to an administrative appeal to the Chief of Engineers.

(3) Qualifications. The RO will be a Corps employee with extensive knowledge of the Corps regulatory program. Where the permit decision being appealed was made by the division engineer or higher authority, a Corps official at least one level higher than the decision maker shall make the decision on the merits of the RFA, and this Corps official shall appoint a qualified individual as the RO to conduct the appeal process.

(b) General -

(1) Independence. The RO will not perform, or have been involved with, the preparation, review, or decision making of the action being appealed. The RO will be independent and impartial in reviewing any appeal, and when assisting the division engineer to make a decision on the merits of the appeal.

(2) Review. The RO will conduct an independent review of the administrative record to address the reasons for the appeal cited by the applicant in the RFA. In addition, to the extent that it is practicable and feasible, the RO will also conduct an independent review of the administrative record to verify that the record provides an adequate and reasonable basis supporting the district engineer's decision, that facts or analysis essential to the district engineer's decision have not been omitted from the administrative record, and that all relevant requirements of law, regulations, and officially promulgated Corps policy guidance have been satisfied. Should the RO require expert advice regarding any subject, he may seek such advice from any employee of the Corps or of another Federal or state agency, or from any recognized expert, so long as that person had not been previously involved in the action under review.