Environmental Protection:

Funds Obligated for Completed Superfund Projects

RCED-98-232: Published: Jul 21, 1998. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 1998.

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Peter F. Guerrero
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to deobligate and recover funds for completed Superfund projects, focusing on: (1) the progress that EPA has made to recover the unspent funds on the inactive Superfund contracts and assistance agreements that GAO identified; and (2) whether any additional funds that expired during 1997 for Superfund contracts and assistance agreements are available for deobligation.

GAO noted that: (1) EPA has made a concentrated effort to recover the unspent funds that GAO identified for work orders and assistance agreements for Superfund contracts that were completed prior to 1997; (2) of the $249 million that GAO identified, EPA has recovered $210 million; (3) of the approximately $39 million remaining, EPA has detailed plans to recover about $26 million during fiscal year (FY) 1998; (4) EPA plans to recover the remaining $13 million in FY 1999; (5) EPA has an additional $125 million available for deobligation from contracts and assistance agreements that expired in 1997; (6) although EPA had identified and plans to recover $10 million, GAO identified an additional $115 million, which also expired in 1997, that can be recovered; (7) EPA did not identify the additional $115 million because its analysis, which was based on data for June 1997, covered contracts that expired prior to July 1, 1997; (8) typically, in the second half of a calendar year, significant amounts become available for deobligation; and (9) of the additional amount available for deobligation and recovery, $109 million derives mainly from contract work orders that expired during the last 6 months of 1997 and over $6 million from assistance agreements.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: EPA disagreed with the recommendation because: (1) its process allows contractors 6 months to submit invoices for expired contracts and it does not want to risk deobligating too much money; (2) its effort is timed for sufficient evaluation and processing of each deobligation and reuse recovered funds during the fiscal year; (3) it places significant emphasis on its annual process, and requiring additional efforts would reduce the stature of its annual effort; and (4) it agency has been successful in expending recovered Superfund dollars within a reasonable timeframe.

    Recommendation: To expedite the recovery of unspent funds on inactive Superfund contract work orders, the Administrator, EPA, should modify the agency's analysis of completed contracts to include a separate analysis of contracts that have expired at the end of December in addition to June of each calendar year.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency


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