Natural Resources and Environment:

Creation of a Department of Environmental Protection (H.R. 3847)

T-RCED-90-25: Published: Feb 7, 1990. Publicly Released: Feb 7, 1990.

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GAO discussed proposed legislation that would create a cabinet-level Department of Environmental Protection. GAO noted that the: (1) Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) mission, size, and scope of responsibilities have significantly increased since its inception and are now equal to those of many other cabinet departments; and (2) Congressional Budget Office estimated that the costs of converting EPA to a cabinet department would be minimal, although the proposed legislation called for additional features which could add to conversion costs. GAO also noted that the proposed legislation would create: (1) an office of international environmental affairs to strengthen the U.S. role in international environmental deliberations; (2) a center for environmental statistics to strengthen the collection and analysis of environmental data needed for effective program management and evaluation; and (3) a commission of environmental administration to examine departmental management, organizational, and jurisdictional issues. In addition, GAO noted that the legislation would not establish a single ombudsman to handle complaints and resolve disputes between the public and government officials. GAO believes that a Department of Environmental Protection could ultimately provide a far more effective organization for addressing the difficult environmental agenda.

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