NGFA urged the Department of Defense this week to reinstate the Inland Waterways Users Board (IWUB) as soon as possible.
In an April 7 letter to DoD leaders, NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert noted that the U.S. inland waterways system is financed in part by a diesel fuel tax that commercial users pay, deposited into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF).
“The users who help pay for the maintenance and modernization of this system should continue to have their voice heard through the IWUB,” he noted.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a “zero-based review” of all DoD advisory committees in a memo issued on Jan. 30. The memo explains that this review is “to ensure each advisory committee provides appropriate value…” The Wall Street Journal reported that the review also was intended to “oust” last-minute selections by the previous administration.
The department is evaluating more than 40 federal advisory groups, including the IWUB, suspended under this review. Recommendations from department officials on the future and composition of each advisory group are due to Secretary Austin by June 1.
The IWUB has served as a critical federal advisory committee for 35 years, issuing recommendations to both Congress and the Secretary of the Army on spending for construction and rehabilitation projects along America’s aging inland waterways system, Seyfert noted in his letter.
“At a time when Congress and the administration are working on both a broad infrastructure bill and Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations that have impacts on U.S. locks, dams and ports, the venue that the IWUB provides must continue to allow the voices of the users who help finance improvements to the system to be heard,” the letter stated.