Department of Defense:

Widespread Abuse in Recycling Program Increases Funds for Recreation Activities

NSIAD-94-40: Published: Dec 10, 1993. Publicly Released: Dec 10, 1993.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Mark E. Gebicke
(202) 512-5140
contact@gao.gov

 

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

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) Resource Recovery and Recycling Program, focusing on the: (1) types of materials the installations are including in the program; (2) installations that bypass the established disposal process and sell materials on their own; and (3) accounting for and use of program proceeds.

GAO found that: (1) widespread abuses exist in the recycling program; (2) millions of dollars are being used for morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) activities that should be returned to the U.S. Treasury or DOD fund accounts; (3) some installations are holding unauthorized sales rather than selling materials through disposal offices; (4) about 90 percent of the recycling program's proceeds represent sales of excluded items and items that would not normally go into the waste stream; (5) the total amount that DOD installations are receiving from the recycling program and spending on MWR activities is unknown; (6) few of the proceeds from the recycling program are spent on pollution abatement and safety and environmental projects; (7) DOD has revised its recycling program guidance to include ferrous and nonferrous scrap metal, which conflicts with the purpose of the recycling program, since these materials are not usually part of the waste stream; and (8) DOD installations are not complying with the program's internal controls and DOD Inspector General and military service reviews have not reported any deficiencies in the recycling program's internal controls.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its report on the fiscal year 1995 Defense Authorization Act, the Senate Committee on Armed Services cited the GAO report on the recycling program and recommended that DOD issue new regulations to include establishing a clear definition of the nature of materials eligible for the program. If the new regulations have not been prescribed by March 1, 1996, the Committee will consider terminating the special authority for military installations to return the proceeds for morale, welfare, and recreation activities.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider defining recyclable material for the purposes of the Resource Recovery and Recycling Program. For example, Congress may wish to consider if the recent revisions to DOD policy allowing installations to receive proceeds from the sale of ferrous and nonferrous metals and fired brass are consistent with the intent of Public Law 97-214, 10 U.S.C. 2577.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Guidance issued by the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security on January 31, 1994, requested that the services carefully review cases cited in the GAO report and take action to ensure that any improperly received funds would be reimbursed to the appropriate account.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD and its bases meet the intent of the 1982 legislation and comply with the implementing guidance, the Secretary of Defense should require MWR activities at affected installations to reimburse the appropriate fund for the amount of recycling program proceeds received improperly to the extent reasonable and practical.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On January 31, 1994, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security issued additional guidance relative to the DOD Resource Recovery and Recycling Program. This guidance included a request that the DOD Inspector General conduct periodic audits of this program in light of existing legislation and DOD policy. The guidance also requested that service audit organizations conduct similar periodic audits of service programs.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD and its bases meet the intent of the 1982 legislation and comply with the implementing guidance, the Secretary of Defense should require the DOD Office of Inspector General or the military services' audit agencies to periodically audit the DOD recycling program to assess compliance with the 1982 legislation and DOD policy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD will consider including the program as a material weakness.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD and its bases meet the intent of the 1982 legislation and comply with the implementing guidance, the Secretary of Defense should identify and report the recycling program issues as material weaknesses under the annual Financial Integrity Act assessments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On January 31, 1994, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security issued guidance asking the military services and Defense Logistics Agency to review their existing internal control systems to ensure that the Resource Recovery and Recycling Program is included. The guidance stressed that adherence to the internal control process must be emphasized to all field organizations.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD and its bases meet the intent of the 1982 legislation and comply with the implementing guidance, the Secretary of Defense should require that internal controls be complied with to ensure that installations and Defense Reutilization and Marketing Offices meet the letter and intent of the 1982 legislation and follow existing DOD policy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 19, 2014

Sep 18, 2014

Sep 10, 2014

Sep 9, 2014

Sep 8, 2014

Jul 31, 2014

Looking for more? Browse all our products here