Ozone-Depleting Chemicals:

Increased Priority Needed If DOD Is to Eliminate Their Use

NSIAD-92-21: Published: Nov 13, 1991. Publicly Released: Dec 18, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Department of Defense (DOD) initiatives to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals.

GAO found that: (1) DOD has established internal programs and joint efforts with industry and federal agencies to identify and develop alternatives to using ozone-depleting chemicals; (2) DOD is evaluating, purchasing, and using refrigerant and halon recovery and recycling equipment and has reduced its halon emissions during training and testing activities; (3) the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has defined mission-critical uses so broadly that the military departments have significant latitude in identifying uses that can continue beyond the planned phase-out; (4) since DOD has neither identified or tracked all of its ozone-depleting chemical usage quantities, specific uses, and emissions, the services are not fully aware of where and in what quantities all the regulated chemicals are used; (5) although DOD estimates that it will cost about $250 million to test, evaluate, and qualify new materials for mission-critical applications, OSD and the services are slow in providing the resources to ensure that safe and acceptable alternatives will be available to support DOD phase-out of those regulated chemicals; (6) DOD is continuing to install equipment that uses ozone-depleting chemicals in existing and new aircraft and ships; (7) over 9,600 military specifications and standards currently require contractors to use ozone-depleting chemicals; and (8) although, in many cases, DOD could opt for using nonmilitary specifications and standards to promote the use of safe and acceptable alternatives, as of September 1, 1991, it had revised only one standard to allow the use of alternatives.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On August 11, 1992, the Undersecretary of Defense (Acquisition) implemented policy to require approval of the component senior acquisition executives when using ozone-depleting chemicals in new systems or modifications to existing systems. Section 326 of Public Law 102-484 provides that no DOD contract awarded after June 1, 1993, may include a specification or standard requiring the use of a class I ozone-depleting substance unless this action is approved by the senior acquisition official. All existing systems must do an economic analysis to determine whether the system will continue using the substance or be changed out.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD can successfully minimize the amount of strategic reserves to be established and avoid relying on ozone-depleting chemicals further into the 21st century than necessary, the Secretary of Defense should establish criteria for reviewing ongoing and proposed projects that use regulated chemicals in existing and new systems to ensure those uses are justified.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On June 28, 1993, the Office of the Secretary of Defense approved a technology development plan for identifying alternatives to ozone-depleting substances for weapon systems use and said that the military departments should plan, program, and budget for the resources required to accomplish the stated milestones. The plan is intended to be a step toward implementation of a new technology strategy, issued in August 1992, which addresses the need for the identification of near-term alternatives to CFC, halons, and other ozone-depleting substances. The identification and development of alternatives is to be considered complete when the generic technical know-how exists to design alternative systems. The plan's objectives correspond to the seven different functions for which ozone-depleting substances are used in weapon systems.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD can successfully minimize the amount of strategic reserves to be established and avoid relying on ozone-depleting chemicals further into the 21st century than necessary, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the appropriate priority is given to research and development for applications that have no ongoing commercial research.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD officials now contend that there is no need for a system to track uses of ozone-depleting chemicals. They state that the production of halons has ceased and production of Class I CFCs will cease at the end of 1995. Although some additional resources will be available through the recycling market, the limited availibility will eliminate most uses of CFCs and halons, thus the need for a tracking system.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD can successfully minimize the amount of strategic reserves to be established and avoid relying on ozone-depleting chemicals further into the 21st century than necessary, the Secretary of Defense should establish a mechanism to track its specific uses, quantities, and emissions to ensure that all usage will be identified and eliminated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD revised its policy directive on ozone-depleting substances, which included a revision to the definition of mission critical. The revised guidance provides that mission-critical uses be limited to those associated with weapon systems. This has significantly reduced the number of acceptable continued uses of ozone-depleting substances.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD can successfully minimize the amount of strategic reserves to be established and avoid relying on ozone-depleting chemicals further into the 21st century than necessary, the Secretary of Defense should clarify the definition of mission-critical uses to minimize continued use of regulated chemicals and ensure consistent approaches among the military departments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of the Secretary of Defense took action to reduce the number of military specifications requiring the use of ozone-depleting substances, including the identification of all specifications requiring them and the delineation of available substitutes. The list was used to determine which specifications could be cancelled and establish priorities for revising the other documents and then monitoring the revision process. The list of military and federal specifications and standards was provided to user organizations. To a great extent, this initiative has been superseded by Secretary Perry's initiative to eliminate almost all military specifications--an action which is being reviewed by the Defense Acquisition Board process.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD can successfully minimize the amount of strategic reserves to be established and avoid relying on ozone-depleting chemicals further into the 21st century than necessary, the Secretary of Defense should expedite the use of nonmilitary specifications and standards to replace the military specifications and standards that currently require the use of ozone-depleting chemicals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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