Environmental Cleanup:

Inconsistent Sharing Arrangements May Increase Defense Costs

NSIAD-94-231: Published: Jul 7, 1994. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Department of Defense (DOD) efforts to clean up environmental damage on DOD-owned property, focusing on: (1) cleanup costs at contaminated facilities; and (2) the DOD approach for sharing cleanup costs between the government and other parties.

GAO found that: (1) environmental cleanup at DOD government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) plants and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal will generally take longer and cost about $3 billion, 70 percent more that DOD reported; (2) liability for cleanup falls on a variety of potentially responsible parties, including facility operators and generators of hazardous substances; (3) each of the services and the Defense Logistics Agency has a different policy on cost-sharing for environmental cleanups; (4) Environmental Protection Agency policy states that status as a GOCO operator does not shield a contractor from environmental liability; (5) the military services have not requested that GOCO operators share in the cost of cleaning up past contamination; (6) cleanup is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers at former defense sites and former GOCO facilities sold to the private sector; and (7) a contribution of about $250 million has been obtained from the lessee at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Because of substantial overall progress by DOD in related areas and additional GAO work in process, this recommendation is being closed out.

    Recommendation: In resolving these disparities, the Secretary of Defense should consider whether DOD information systems provide the data, including the data on costs and potentially responsible parties, needed for DOD recovery of cleanup costs from other parties.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Because of substantial overall progress by DOD in related areas and additional GAO work in process, this recommendation is being closed out.

    Recommendation: In resolving these disparities, the Secretary of Defense should consider how DOD policies and practices can better hold contractors and other private parties liable for their role in the contamination of DOD property.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: See previous recommendation. Because of substantial overall progress by DOD in related areas and additional GAO work in process, this recommendation is being closed out.

    Recommendation: In resolving these disparities, the Secretary of Defense should consider what incentives are needed to minimize environmental contamination and to ensure fair allocation of costs among DOD and private parties.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation, but its actions have primarily dealt with the first issue discussed in the section above. DOD has not provided additional guidance to resolve disparities. Because of substantial overall progress by DOD in related areas and additional GAO work in process, this recommendation and the prior recommendation are being closed out.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should provide guidance to resolve disparities among procedures and policies on environmental cleanup responsibility and costs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation and has taken action to place greater priority on ensuring that the best available cleanup information is used for planning and budgeting, and for reports to Congress. For fiscal year 1994, the report to Congress included data for the selected locations that was more representative of that submitted by the DOD components and discussed in GAO's report. For example, DOD had reported total cleanup costs of $154 million for the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in fiscal year 1993, but increased the estimate to more than $600 million, in line with the discussion in the GAO report.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should place immediate priority on ensuring that the best available cleanup cost information is used for its planning and budgeting system and for its reports to Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Because of substantial overall progress by DOD in related areas and additional GAO work in process, this prior recommendation is being closed out.

    Recommendation: In resolving these disparities, the Secretary of Defense should consider whether contractors should subsequently be permitted to recover from DOD part or all of the contributions they have made toward cleanup.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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