Major Management Challenges and Program Risks:

Environmental Protection Agency

OCG-99-17: Published: Jan 1, 1999. Publicly Released: Jan 1, 1999.

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As part of its Performance and Accountability Series, GAO provided information on the major management challenges and program risks facing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

GAO noted that: (1) EPA needs more comprehensive information on the condition of the environment to effectively set priorities, assess progress in achieving its goals and objectives, and report on its accomplishments in a credible way; (2) although EPA and the states collect a considerable amount of data, the agency's data systems are often outmoded and difficult to integrate to produce comprehensive environmental information; (3) important gaps in the data also exist; (4) although the current regulatory system for environmental protection has had its successes, it has proven to be costly and, at times, inflexible; (5) noting that complex future environmental challenges will require fundamentally different regulatory approaches, EPA has initiated a variety of actions aimed at reinventing environmental regulation; (6) however, the agency faces several challenges, including helping its rank-and-file employees to understand and support changes to the current regulatory system and obtaining consensus among the agency's varied stakeholders on what these changes should be; (7) as authorized by environmental statutes, EPA has increasingly delegated responsibilities for environmental protection activities to the states; (8) the states have become important EPA partners as they have assumed the responsibility for implementing most national environmental programs on a daily basis; (9) despite the importance of this partnership, the relationship has often been characterized by fundamental disagreements over roles, priorities, and the extent of federal oversight that potentially limit the effectiveness of these programs; (10) EPA has improved its management of the Superfund program--the agency's $1.5-billion effort to clean up the nation's most hazardous waste sites--since GAO's 1992 designation of the program as being at high risk of fraud, waste and abuse; (11) actions are still needed to: (a) ensure that limited resources are used to clean up sites that pose the greatest risk; (b) recover billions of dollars in cleanup costs from those responsible for the contamination; and (c) control site cleanup costs through the efficient and effective administration of cleanup contracts; (12) EPA is aware of the importance of meeting these management challenges and has various initiatives under way to address them; (13) EPA is also developing a strategic action plan to improve the quality of the data in its major information systems and a strategy to identify and fill significant gaps in the available environmental data; and (14) although EPA is making progress in addressing its management challenges, they have been long-standing, and overcoming them will require the agency's long-term commitment and, in some cases, additional resources.

Below are the reports in this series:

High-Risk Series: An Update HR-99-1, Jan 1, 1999

Performance and Accountability Series:

Major Management Challenges and Risks: An Executive Summary OCG-99-ES, Feb 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: A Governmentwide Perspective OCG-99-1, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Agriculture OCG-99-2, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Commerce OCG-99-3, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Defense OCG-99-4, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Education OCG-99-5, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Energy OCG-99-6, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Health and Human Services OCG-99-7, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Housing and Urban Development OCG-99-8, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of the Interior OCG-99-9, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Justice OCG-99-10, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Labor OCG-99-11, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of State OCG-99-12, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Transportation OCG-99-13, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of the Treasury OCG-99-14, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Veterans Affairs OCG-99-15, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Agency for International Development OCG-99-16, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Environmental Protection Agency OCG-99-17, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: National Aeronautics and Space Administration OCG-99-18, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Nuclear Regulatory Commission OCG-99-19, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Social Security Administration OCG-99-20, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: U.S. Postal Service OCG-99-21, Jan 1, 1999

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