Hazardous Waste:

Attention to DOD Inventories of Hazardous Materials Needed

NSIAD-90-11: Published: Nov 6, 1989. Publicly Released: Dec 22, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) Department of Defense (DOD) efforts to minimize hazardous waste generation through hazardous materials inventory controls; and (2) Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and General Services Administration (GSA) efforts as DOD purchasing agencies.

GAO found that 40 percent of hazardous materials designated for disposal was unused, because: (1) lengthy storage periods consumed shelf life before delivery to users; (2) the DLA direct delivery program was designed to eliminate storage time only for nonhazardous materials; (3) supply depot officials were issuing newer materials before older materials and permitting exceptions to DOD usage policy based on nonhazardous material use; (4) supply officials were not consistently evaluating hazardous materials to determine possible shelf-life extension; and (5) DOD lacked special inventory procedures for managing hazardous waste materials. GAO also found that GSA was considering expansion of its direct deliveries to include 200 additional hazardous materials with short shelf lives.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD published revised the Shelf-life Policy Manual, DOD 4140.27M, in August 1990. The Chairman of the DOD Shelf-life Committee issued a letter in October 1990 encouraging maximum use of direct vendor delivery for short-life products, review of current items and justification of stockage.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should issue instructions to each service to provide special attention to inventory management procedures for hazardous materials that will minimize the generation of hazardous waste from hazardous material inventories. These instructions should include directing DLA and GSA, through the memorandum of agreement between DOD and GSA, to make greater use of direct delivery contracts for hazardous materials with short shelf life.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD developed internal management controls to ensure that its policies are being followed and exceptions to the policy have been evaluated.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should issue instructions to each service to provide special attention to inventory management procedures for hazardous materials that will minimize the generation of hazardous waste from hazardous material inventories. These instructions should include directing supply organizations to make greater use of first-in first-out issue procedures for hazardous waste materials with shelf life and to discourage exceptions to this policy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD developed internal management controls to ensure that its policy is being followed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should issue instructions to each service to provide special attention to inventory management procedures for hazardous materials that will minimize the generation of hazardous waste from hazardous material inventories. These instructions should include directing supply depots and installations to consistently evaluate the condition of hazardous materials through periodic testing or inspecting of hazardous materials before sending them to the disposal process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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