Environmental Protection:

EPA's Problems with Collection and Management of Scientific Data and Its Efforts to Address Them

T-RCED-95-174: Published: May 12, 1995. Publicly Released: May 12, 1995.

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GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) collection and management of scientific information needed for its regulatory decisions and its efforts to improve its peer review process. GAO noted that: (1) much of EPA scientific data is incomplete or outdated; (2) the poor quality of EPA scientific data makes it difficult for EPA to conduct scientifically based risk assessments, measure environmental program results, or make reasonable regulatory decisions; (3) EPA uses hundreds of separate and distinct information systems to assess health and environmental risks; (4) EPA data management systems have been designed to track individual environmental conditions and have made cross-media risk assessments difficult; (5) although EPA has taken steps to address its data management deficiencies, many problems remain which will require management's commitment and appropriate allocation of EPA resources; (6) EPA peer review procedures are not adequate to ensure the scientific quality of its technical and scientific products; (7) EPA internal controls do not ensure that unreviewed documents are not prematurely released to the public; and (8) although EPA has taken steps to improve its peer review process, continued oversight is necessary to ensure policy success.

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