Creation of a Department of the Environment (S. 2006)

T-RCED-90-26: Published: Feb 8, 1990. Publicly Released: Feb 8, 1990.

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GAO discussed proposed legislation that would create a cabinet-level Department of the Environment. GAO noted that: (1) the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) mission, size, and scope of responsibilities have grown considerably since its inception and are now equal to those of other cabinet departments; (2) the proposed creation of an interagency committee on global environmental change would provide a much-needed mechanism for coordinating national policies on important environmental issues; (3) EPA fit such cabinet-status eligibility criteria as having broad, national, cross-cutting policy goals and requiring strengthened oversight and accountability; (4) the 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 that would increase the conversion costs; and (5) although the proposed legislation would establish a bureau of environmental statistics, a chief financial officer, and a chief information resources officer, the new department would still require better program evaluation methods, better financial and other management information systems, better internal controls, and an improved organizational structure that accurately reflected environmental priorities.

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