Hazardous Materials:

Inadequate Safeguards Over Sales Pose Health and Environmental Dangers

NSIAD-90-70: Published: Feb 12, 1990. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 1990.

Additional Materials:

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the Department of Defense's (DOD) and the General Services Administration's (GSA) surplus sales policies and procedures to determine whether they attempted to prevent hazardous materials sales to buyers who could not properly handle them.

GAO found that DOD and GSA: (1) sold hazardous materials that were later handled improperly; (2) imposed only minimal legal restrictions on buyers of hazardous materials; (3) did not provide buyers with information about the hazards associated with sold materials; and (4) did not properly identify hazardous materials for sale.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD procedures require centralized sales and expansion of description on dangers of the item and handling procedures. New preaward procedures on buyer intent and responsibility were put into effect. On February 7, 1990, GSA issued similar guidance and preaward procedures. Bidders are to file a signed statement of intent with their bid. Failure to do so results in rejection as nonresponsive.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services and the Secretary of Defense, in cooperation with one another, should implement stronger safeguards to ensure that all buyers of hazardous materials, especially buyers of extremely hazardous materials, are: (1) aware of the dangers associated with such materials and the special handling and disposal requirements; and (2) able to handle the materials properly after the sale.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD procedures require centralized sales and expansion of description on dangers of the item and handling procedures. New preaward procedures on buyer intent and responsibility were put into effect. On February 7, 1990, GSA issued similar guidance and preaward procedures. Bidders are to file a signed statement of intent with their bids. Failure to do so will result in rejection as nonresponsive.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services and the Secretary of Defense, in cooperation with one another, should implement stronger safeguards to ensure that all buyers of hazardous materials, especially buyers of extremely hazardous materials, are: (1) aware of the dangers associated with such materials and the special handling and disposal requirements; and (2) able to handle the materials properly after the sale.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Revised sales procedures issued on February 7, 1990 effectively implement the recommendation. These include advising that material safety data sheets are available to bidders; requiring a "statement of intent" be signed with bids; providing material safety data sheets with notices of award; and requiring that hazardous materials offered for sale not be commingled with other classes of property.

    Recommendation: GSA should ensure that sales catalogs issued by each region include all necessary information to alert potential buyers to the hazards associated with the materials.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

 

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