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    Subject Term: "Environmental assessment"

    4 publications with a total of 10 open recommendations
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that USDA has the information needed to better identify potentially contaminated sites--particularly abandoned mines--on properties it manages and, thereby, help minimize possible risks to human health and the environment, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the heads of the department's land management agencies to develop plans and procedures for completing their inventories of potentially contaminated sites.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help resolve disagreements between EPA and USDA and Interior regarding which remaining docket sites require preliminary assessments, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse to review available information on USDA and Interior sites where EPA's Superfund Enterprise Management System indicates that a preliminary assessment has not occurred to determine the accuracy of this information, and update the information, as needed.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, EPA Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office (FFRRO) generated a spreadsheet with information from EPA's Superfund Enterprise Management System showing the status of USDA and Interior sites on the docket. In January 2016 FFRRO sent letters to USDA and Interior which included information from the spreadsheet showing the status of each department's sites and requested that the departments work with EPA to determine the accuracy of the data. In addition, the departments were to--for those sites where EPA believed that a preliminary assessment was needed--provide a schedule for completion of the sites. In a June 2016 letter to EPA, USDA responded that with help from EPA regions they were able to substantially reconcile the list, complete preliminary assessments or their equivalent, and provide a status to EPA on its 251 sites. In an October 2016 letter to EPA, Interior responded that 79 sites have one or more areas of uncertainty regarding their status within the Federal Facilities Docket system. Interior stated that it had developed a work plan for obtaining additional information on the sites, which is scheduled for completion in March 2018. We will continue to monitor EPA's and Interior's progress to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help resolve disagreements between EPA and USDA and Interior regarding which remaining docket sites require preliminary assessments, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse to work with the relevant USDA and Interior offices to obtain any additional information needed to assist EPA in determining the accuracy of the agency's data on the status of preliminary assessments for these sites.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA officials and documents, in response to this recommendation, EPA's Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office (FFRRO) has been meeting quarterly with USDA and Interior to discuss, among other issues, any additional information needed to assist EPA in determining the accuracy of the agency's data on the status of preliminary assessments for these sites. According to a June 2016 letter USDA sent to EPA, preliminary assessments or their equivalent have been completed for its 251 sites. Interior informed EPA in an October 2016 letter that it has developed a plan--scheduled for completion in March 2018--for obtaining additional information on the sites. After the updated list of sites is developed, Interior plans to work with EPA to determine the final steps necessary to complete a preliminary assessment for each site. We will continue to monitor EPA's and Interior's progress to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help resolve disagreements between EPA and USDA and Interior regarding which remaining docket sites require preliminary assessments, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse to, after completing this review, inform USDA and Interior whether the requirement to conduct a preliminary assessment at the identified sites has been met or if additional work is needed to meet this requirement

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA officials and documents, in response to this recommendation, EPA's Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office (FFRRO) has been meeting quarterly with USDA and Interior to discuss, among other issues, whether the requirement to conduct a preliminary assessment at the identified sites has been met or if additional work is needed to meet this requirement. According to a June 2016 letter USDA sent to EPA, preliminary assessments or their equivalent have been completed for its 251 sites. Interior informed EPA in an October 2016 letter that it has developed a plan--scheduled for completion in March 2018--for obtaining additional information on the sites. After the updated list of sites is developed, Interior plans to work with EPA to determine the final steps necessary to complete a preliminary assessment for each site. We will continue to monitor EPA's and Interior's progress to address this recommendation.
    Director: Debra A. Draper
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure adequate and qualified nurse staffing at VAMCs, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Interim Under Secretary for Health to enhance VHA's internal controls by completing evaluations of Phase I and Phase II and make any necessary changes to policies and procedures before national implementation of Phase II in all VAMCs.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA agreed with this recommendation and, according to an update received April 2017, VA is taking actions towards addressing this recommendation and expects to complete those actions Fall 2017. When additional information is received GAO will update the recommendation as appropriate.
    Director: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to facilitate the efforts of installation planners to efficiently implement the requirements of the Unified Facilities Criteria and DOD Instruction 4715.03, the Secretary of Defense--in conjunction with the Secretaries of the military departments--should provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans. At a minimum, further direction could include definitions of key terms, such as the definition of "climate change" recently included in DOD Manual 4715.03; further information about changes in applicable building codes and design standards that account for potential climate change impacts; and further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation to provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans, including providing further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations. Although DOD has not fully implemented this recommendation, DOD has started to take actions to address components of the recommendation. For example, the Department issued DOD Directive 4715.21 (January 14, 2016), in which DOD defines climate change. Also, the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program produced the report entitled Regional Sea Level Scenarios for Coastal Risk Management (April, 2016) and accompanying database, in which DOD provides regionalized sea level and extreme water level scenarios for three future time horizons (2035, 2065, and 2100) for 1,774 DOD sites worldwide. DOD intends the report and database to be used by planners to adapt to sea level rise, one impact of climate change. However, during July 2017 follow-up work, we learned that the department has not yet provided these planners with projections for the full set of expected impacts of weather effects associated with climate change.
    Recommendation: In order to improve the military services' ability to make facility investment decisions in accordance with DOD's strategic direction to include climate change adaptation considerations and additionally, to demonstrate an emphasis on proposing projects with an adaption component to installation planners, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the military departments to clarify instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding so that, at a minimum, climate change adaptation is considered as a project component that may be needed to address potential climate change impacts on infrastructure.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation to clarify instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding so that, at a minimum, climate change adaptation is considered as a project component that may be needed to address potential climate change impacts on infrastructure. DOD stated that climate change may be one of many factors that can affect facilities and impact mission and readiness, and that the department will review processes and criteria, such as the Unified Facilities Criteria, to strengthen consideration of climate change adaptation. DOD concurred with our recommendation to provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans, including providing further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations. Although DOD has not fully implemented this recommendation, during September 2016 follow-up work, we learned that the Army has started to take actions to address components of the recommendation. Specifically, in briefing slides presented to congressional staff in 2016, the Army noted that two military construction projects were sited in a manner specifically designed to mitigate the impacts of climate change. These projects were a powertrain facility at Corpus Christi Army Depot and a waste water treatment plant at West Point. However, as of July 2017, DOD had not provided us with evidence that the department's components have clarified instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the resilience of the nation's infrastructure to climate change, the Executive Director of the United States Global Change Research Program or other federal entity designated by the Executive Office of the President should work with relevant agencies to identify for decision makers the "best available" climate-related information for infrastructure planning and update this information over time.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy: U.S. Global Change Research Program
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 7/27/17, no federal entity has identified the best available climate-related information for infrastructure planning.
    Recommendation: To improve the resilience of the nation's infrastructure to climate change, the Executive Director of the United States Global Change Research Program or other federal entity designated by the Executive Office of the President should work with relevant agencies to clarify sources of local assistance for incorporating climate-related information and analysis into infrastructure planning, and communicate how such assistance will be provided over time.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy: U.S. Global Change Research Program
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 7/27/17, no federal entity has comprehensively clarified sources of local assistance for incorporating climate-related information and analysis into infrastructure planning.
    Recommendation: To improve the resilience of the nation's infrastructure to climate change, the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality should finalize guidance on how federal agencies can consider the effects of climate change in their evaluations of proposed federal actions under the National Environmental Policy Act.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Council on Environmental Quality
    Status: Open

    Comments: On August 1, 2016, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued final guidance to federal departments and agencies on how to consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change when evaluating proposed federal actions in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. However, in March 2017, the White House issued Executive Order 13783, directing CEQ to rescind the guidance, among other things. CEQ rescinded the guidance on April 5, 2017.