Environmental Protection:

Challenges in Defense Environmental Program Management

T-NSIAD-95-121: Published: Mar 24, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 24, 1995.

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GAO discussed the overall status of the Department of Defense's (DOD) environmental program, focusing on actions that need to be taken to enhance the program's success. GAO noted that: (1) although DOD has revised its environmental strategy to expedite cleanup efforts, implemented a program that prevents rather than controls pollution, identified nearly 28,000 potentially contaminated sites, and has made compliance with environmental laws a top budgetary priority, it still faces substantial challenges in cleaning up hazardous waste sites and improving overall program management; (2) despite spending over $7 billion for cleanup efforts, DOD has cleaned up only 571 contaminated sites as of September 1993; (3) most of the funds spent for environmental cleanup efforts have been for site studies and cleanup design; (4) overly complex rules and regulations, the lack of cooperation between DOD, the Environmental Protection Agency, and states, and the lack of cost-effective technologies for cleaning up certain types of hazardous waste sites have delayed DOD cleanup efforts; (5) DOD has not effectively prioritized its hazardous waste sites so that those sites posing the greatest human health and environmental risks receive funding priority and does not have a timely and accurate means of estimating program costs or success; (6) DOD may be paying cleanup costs attributable to other parties because of the lack of clear cost-sharing policies and procedures; and (7) DOD does not have the information necessary to determine how military operations affect natural resources and environmental protection efforts affect military operations.

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