Better Procedures Needed for Inspections at Sewage Treatment Construction Projects

RCED-83-73: Published: Jan 26, 1983. Publicly Released: Jan 26, 1983.

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GAO reviewed 18 sewage treatment plant construction projects in five states to: (1) evaluate how well the Army Corps of Engineers is carrying out its inspection monitoring function for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and (2) the adequacy of the resident inspector's recordkeeping process to record construction deficiencies.

GAO found that a national interagency agreement between EPA and the Corps broadly defines the Corps' construction monitoring responsibility. The Corps provides its onsite reviewers with only general guidance for performing their work. GAO found that, in some cases, the Corps reviews are not sufficiently detailed to ensure that the resident inspectors perform their work properly; in other cases, the review results are not always reported to the grantees, states, or EPA. Properly performing the monitoring reviews would help give EPA assurance that projects are built in accordance with approved plans and specifications. EPA has issued a general construction inspection guide to all grantees which only suggests that an accurate daily inspection report should be prepared. Therefore, resident inspectors have not been instructed to document day-to-day construction deficiencies or to maintain material test reports, correspondence, or deficiency reports.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator, with the assistance of the Corps of Engineers, should develop and implement standard operating procedures for monitoring the resident inspectors' activities. These procedures should provide specific guidance on how to review the residents' inspection activities; establish timeframes for monitoring, when feasible, critical construction events; and provide criteria for assessing the adequacy of the residents' inspection activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army: Corps of Engineers

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator, with the assistance of the Corps of Engineers, should develop and implement standard operating procedures for monitoring the resident inspectors' activities. These procedures should provide specific guidance on how to review the residents' inspection activities; establish timeframes for monitoring, when feasible, critical construction events; and provide criteria for assessing the adequacy of the residents' inspection activities.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator, with the assistance of the Corps of Engineers, should establish recordkeeping guidelines for resident inspectors on construction grant projects for documenting construction deficiencies, highlighting the deficiencies that need follow-up, and maintaining important construction records. The Administrator should issue these guidelines to grantees suggesting better documenting of resident inspections and, if residents do not follow the guidance, EPA should include as a condition in its grant awards that the resident inspectors follow the guidance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army: Corps of Engineers

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator, with the assistance of the Corps of Engineers, should establish recordkeeping guidelines for resident inspectors on construction grant projects for documenting construction deficiencies, highlighting the deficiencies that need follow-up, and maintaining important construction records. The Administrator should issue these guidelines to grantees suggesting better documenting of resident inspections and, if residents do not follow the guidance, EPA should include as a condition in its grant awards that the resident inspectors follow the guidance.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

 

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