Environmental Protection:

Opportunities to Recover Funds Obligated for Completed Superfund Projects

T-RCED-97-134: Published: Apr 15, 1997. Publicly Released: Apr 15, 1997.

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GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to recover funds obligated for completed Superfund projects, focusing on the: (1) total amount of unspent obligated funds remaining on completed contract work orders and assistance agreements and the EPA offices and regions primarily responsible for administering these funds; and (2) timeliness of EPA's recovery of such funds.

GAO noted: (1) as of December 1996, about $249 million in unspent obligated funds was potentially available to be recovered on over 6,000 completed work orders and assistance agreements; (2) EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response and its regional offices located in Atlanta, New York, and Philadelphia administer most of the funds; (3) in the early 1990s, EPA recognized the need to take more timely action to recover unspent funds; (4) however, according to the agency's Inspector General, EPA's offices responsible for managing contracts and assistance agreements were not provided sufficient resources to do so, while carrying out their other responsibilities; (5) consequently, in 1994, EPA created the Superfund Deobligation Task Force to respond to a growing backlog of completed work orders and assistance agreements, and the associated unspent funds; (6) since fiscal year 1994, the task force has recovered over $400 million; and (7) however, the task force is not keeping up with a growing backlog of completed work orders and assistance agreements because it is composed of part-time members who perform these activities only when their primary job responsibilities enable them to do so.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA has taken the action necessary to successfully implement the recommendation, including the development of a Deobligation Task Force Annual Deobligation Guidance document that outlines the policy and procedures for recovering unspent funds. as well as decertification priorities for each year.

    Recommendation: To recover unspent funds on inactive Superfund contract work orders and assistance agreements, the Administrator of EPA should develop a strategy for identifying, deobligating, and recovering unspent funds within the period specified for contracts by the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and for assistance agreements by EPA's Final Closeout Policy for Assistance Agreements.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency


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