Challenges in Defense Environmental Program Management
T-NSIAD-95-121: Published: Mar 24, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 24, 1995.
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.