Promising Changes Improve EPA's Extramural Research; More Changes Needed

CED-81-6: Published: Oct 28, 1980. Publicly Released: Oct 28, 1980.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made a number of changes to the planning and management of its research activities. If properly implemented, they should improve the EPA research program. GAO discussed some problems which require further attention, and factors and weaknesses which, unless corrected, could continue to seriously hamper the EPA ability to meet its research needs.

GAO found that: (1) offices responsible for implementing EPA programs do not always participate with its research office in determining the size and scope of projects, possibly resulting in research that does not meet EPA program office needs; (2) the EPA research office has not yet fully implemented reviews of its research programs, projects, and results by experts inside and outside of EPA to determine their scientific and technical merit and validity; (3) project offices could not adequately monitor researchers' technical progress in conducting projects outside of EPA because of heavy workloads and travel limitations; (4) contracts generally take substantially longer to award than EPA standard acquisition leadtimes, thereby unduly delaying the start of needed research; and (5) EPA lacks information on past performances of outside researchers for use in determining which applicants appear best qualified to perform new projects. EPA was not satisfactorily fulfilling its research needs because of inadequate coordination, insufficient attention to long-term anticipatory research, and lack of peer review.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development to determine the amount of travel funds needed for project officers in the laboratories to adequately monitor the performance of extramural research.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development, until the travel fund determinations are completed, to instruct all laboratory directors to make sure that necessary site visits to performers of extramural research receive high priority in the use of travel funds now available.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development to require all project officers who have not already done so to attend the concentrated training course.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development to make sure that project officers coordinate with their panels early in the procurement process so that technical evaluations can be scheduled promptly after proposals are received.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  5. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development to use the travel fund information in: (1) seeking additional travel funds in future years from the Office of Management and Budget and Congress; and (2) justifying within EPA a larger allocation of its current travel appropriations.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  6. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development to establish procedures for obtaining the review and concurrence of supervisors or other higher level EPA officials with evaluations prepared by contracting officers, grant specialists, and project officers of extramural research performance.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  7. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development to establish policies and procedures for grants and cooperative agreements similar to those that now exist for preparing and retaining evaluations of contractors' performance and emphasize the importance of grant specialists' and project officers' compliance with the requirements.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  8. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development to have all project officers and contracting officers comply with the requirement to prepare good quality evaluations of contractors' performance, file these evaluations as required by established policies and procedures with the Contractor Relations Branch at EPA headquarters and require that evaluations be used in assessing the qualifications of those seeking new awards.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  9. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Devlopment to require the research committees to obtain peer review of their multiyear strategies.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  10. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development to establish procedures that require regulatory offices and laboratories to agree before work is started that the approach and timing of research projects are reasonable to meet intended needs.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 21, 2016

Aug 3, 2016

Aug 1, 2016

Jul 14, 2016

Jul 5, 2016

Jun 30, 2016

Jun 28, 2016

Jun 23, 2016

Jun 22, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here