Superfund Contracts:

EPA's Procedures for Preventing Conflicts of Interest Need Strengthening

RCED-89-57: Published: Feb 17, 1989. Publicly Released: Mar 20, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the adequacy of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) system for preventing conflicts of interest among its Superfund contractors.

GAO found that: (1) prior to 1988, EPA did little before contract award to determine whether its Superfund contractors had procedures to prevent conflicts of interest; (2) although EPA periodically reviewed its contractors' performance, the reviews did not routinely verify contractor compliance with EPA conflict-of-interest requirements; (3) EPA did not properly document conflict-of-interest cases, case resolutions, or actions on contractor private-party work requests in its contract files, as required; (4) EPA did not provide contractors with specific guidance for avoiding conflicts beyond its regulations and contract clauses; and (5) EPA contracting officers differed on the information they required contractors to include in their private-party work requests, due to lack of formal guidelines and definitive criteria for evaluating contractor requests.

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 Administrator, EPA, should strengthen the EPA conflict-of-interest system under Superfund by directing the Procurement and Contract Management Division (PCMD) to include steps to check compliance with EPA requirements for avoiding, mitigating, and neutralizing conflicts of interest as part of its reviews of contractors' performance.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Effective January 12, 1990, EPA issued several documents relating to requirements for contractors to disclose potential/actual conflicts prior to contract award, throughout the life of the contract and, in some cases, a number of years after the contract expires. EPA is still in the process of initiating periodic reviews to verify contractor compliance with its conflict-of-interest plan.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should strengthen the EPA conflict-of-interest system under Superfund, by directing PCMD to direct contracting officers to follow requirements for documenting actions taken to resolve conflicts and actions taken on contractors' requests to work for private parties.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Beginning January 12, 1990, EPA required all contracting officers to use a standardized checklist to evaluate contractor's private party work requests and to document in the contract files all decisions relating to conflict-of-interest issues associated with each request.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should strengthen the EPA conflict-of-interest system under Superfund, by directing PCMD to provide contractors and contracting officers with additional written guidance for avoiding conflicts.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA periodically provides additional written guidance to contractors and contracting officers to use for avoiding conflicts. The first set of such guidance was issued on January 12, 1990.

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