Pollution Prevention:

The Navy Needs Better Plans for Reducing Ship Waste Discharges

NSIAD-95-38: Published: Nov 4, 1994. Publicly Released: Nov 17, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Navy's Shipboard Solid and Plastics Waste Management Program, focusing on the: (1) Navy's planning processes; and (2) program's effectiveness since its implementation.

GAO found that: (1) the Navy's two prior plans for meeting shipboard solid waste discharge requirements were not well-coordinated and did not include interim milestones for minimizing waste until 1998 or later; (2) the Navy would benefit from examining other federal agencies' and commercial carriers' solid waste disposal experiences; (3) although the Navy has improved coordination for its November 1996 plan, the plan still does not include tasks or milestones to achieve near-term compliance for waste other than plastics; (4) by the time the Navy submits its 1996 plan to Congress, it will have 4 years to develop and install new technologies to meet the discharge requirements; (5) the Navy does not have an approach to meet future legal requirements for solid waste discharges; (6) the Navy has spent $52 million of the $80 million appropriated through fiscal year 1994 on discharge equipment; (7) three of the Navy's four primary developmental projects have been cancelled, suspended, or reduced; and (8) although two Navy ships have reported progress in complying with solid waste discharge requirements, the Navy has not given adequate consideration to whether lessons can be learned from the experiences of non-Navy ships and individual Navy ships that report progress in complying with discharge requirements.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should direct the Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, to ensure that headquarters' planning efforts include the tasks and interim milestones to measure progress toward long-term goals for nonplastic solid waste for both surface ships and submarines.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agrees that high-level attention should be given to planning efforts for non-plastic waste. Toward that objective, the Under Secretary of the Navy established the flag officer/Senior Executive Service executive steering group in April 1994 to oversee the program. In addition, the Navy has now developed a detailed plan of action and milestones in conjunction with development of the report to Congress in 1996.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should direct the Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, to ensure that headquarters' planning efforts include the necessary mechanisms to coordinate among all involved activities, especially to pass on lessons learned from non-Navy ships and individual Navy ships that report progress in complying with discharge requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy has taken action to ensure effective coordination by establishing the flag officer/Senior Executive Service executive steering group to oversee the program. In addition, communication of lessons learned and the free flow of information is encouraged through such forums as the DOD annual joint services recycling workshop.

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