Federal Water Resources Agencies Should Assess Less Costly Ways To Comply With Regulations

CED-81-36: Published: Feb 17, 1981. Publicly Released: Feb 17, 1981.

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The rapid growth of government regulations, coupled with recent economic difficulties facing the nation, has heightened public concern over regulatory costs and burdens. The President has ordered agencies which write regulations to evaluate their economic impact.

Many social and environmental regulations have a major impact on the costs, competition, and the administration of federal water resources projects. Agencies and contractors have major compliance responsibilities during construction, and both are concerned with the cost and burden of regulations, especially the cumulative impact. GAO interviewed construction officials about their concerns in several regulatory areas and studied compliance practices in the areas of fish and wildlife conservation, cultural properties protection, and employment of women in construction. Construction officials were concerned about the cumulative cost and burden of regulations, the lack of consideration of economic impacts, and coordination difficulties. The case studies showed that, when agencies planned projects, they did not develop enough information on costs, burdens, and benefits to evaluate alternatives. Contractors had insufficient knowledge and advice in the area of regulation compliance. Time factors prevented agencies from developing more information on alternatives.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Water Resources Council should develop methods and techniques which construction agencies can use in evaluating alternative means of compliance with social and environmental regulations and consider sharing them with other federal, state, or local agencies that might benefit from such information.

    Agency Affected: Water Resources Council

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Chief of Engineers, and the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Commissioner of the Water and Power Resources Service, to evaluate alternative methods of compliance with social and environmental regulations in construction and initiate action for doing so which satisfies the needs listed above.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Chief of Engineers, and the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Commissioner of the Water and Power Resources Service, to evaluate alternative methods of compliance with social and environmental regulations in construction and initiate action for doing so which satisfies the needs listed above.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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