Chemical Safety Board:

Recent Organizational Changes and Status of Operations

T-RCED-00-101: Published: Mar 2, 2000. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board's organizational changes, determining the status of the Board's: (1) organization; (2) operations; and (3) efforts to update and develop plans, policies, and procedures for accomplishing the Board's mission.

GAO noted that: (1) the Board is operating under a significantly different organizational structure than was in effect during most of its first 2 years of operation; (2) this new structure requires a majority vote of the Board members for substantive management decisions and delegates some specific responsibilities, such as personnel matters, to individual Board members; (3) in contrast, during the first 2 years of operation, the Chairman had individually made substantive management decisions; (4) the current structure represents an interim solution to address two governance issues: (a) the lack of an appointed chairperson since January 2000; and (b) disagreements concerning the roles of the chairperson and Board members; (5) in addition, the Board has implemented an organizational realignment that dedicates an increased proportion of the Board's staffing resources to its investigations and safety programs, rather than supporting activities; (6) however, only 7 of the 17 investigative and safety positions are filled because of, among other things, difficulties in recruiting qualified staff; (7) in terms of operations, the Board has made minimal progress in addressing the backlog of incomplete investigations that existed as of April 1999, when GAO last reported on the Board; (8) specifically, since then, only one of nine outstanding investigations has been completed, and no new investigations were initiated; (9) the Board has made progress in developing needed plans, policies, and procedures, such as those for awarding and managing contracts and selecting incidents to investigate; and (10) however, the agency's strategic plan, required by the Government Performance and Results Act, will not be completed until September 2000.

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