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    Results:

    Subject Term: "Environmental policies"

    6 publications with a total of 12 open recommendations
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance DOE's ability to make risk-based decisions for the treatment of Hanford supplemental LAW, Congress should consider clarifying, in a manner that does not impair the regulatory authorities of EPA and the state of Washington, DOE's authority at Hanford to determine, in consultation with NRC, whether portions of the supplemental LAW can be managed as a waste type other than high-level waste.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to staff with the reports' addressees, Congress is considering whether to implement this Matter.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE's treatment of Hanford's supplemental LAW is risk based and cost effective, the Secretary of Energy should develop updated information on the effectiveness of treating and disposing of all the different portions of Hanford's supplemental LAW with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites, and based on this information, identify potential treatment and disposal pathways for different portions of Hanford's supplemental LAW, considering the risks posed by the LAW. In implementing this recommendation, DOE should take into account the results of the analysis required by Section 3134 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, DOE told GAO that it has commissioned a team of National Laboratory experts that has begun working on an independent review of supplemental low-activity waste treatment options. DOE noted that this review will address the effectiveness of treating and disposing of Hanford's supplemental low-activity waste with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE's treatment of Hanford's supplemental LAW is risk based and cost effective, the Secretary of Energy should have an independent entity develop updated information on the lifecycle costs of treating and disposing of Hanford's supplemental LAW with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites. In implementing this recommendation, DOE should take into account the results of the analysis required by Section 3134 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, DOE told GAO that it has commissioned a team of National Laboratory experts that has begun working on an independent review of supplemental low-activity waste treatment options. DOE noted that this review will include a cost benefit analysis for treatment and disposal alternatives.
    Director: J. Lawrence Malenich
    Phone: (202) 512-9399

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Foundation's Executive Director should update the Foundation's draft written policies and procedures over its contracting practices to include all key internal control activities, issue them in final form, and establish a date by which these actions will be completed.

    Agency: Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Foundation concurred with our recommendation and stated that it will implement the recommended actions. In addition, the Foundation stated that our recommendations will be incorporated in the Foundation's risk assessment documentation, established as a priority, and included in the Foundation's fiscal year 2016 Corrective Action Plan. As of July 2017, the Foundation has not implemented corrective actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure compliance with ERDDAA when handling congressional requests for scientific advice from EPA's SAB, the EPA Administrator should document procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests to determine which questions should be taken up by the SAB and criteria for evaluating such requests.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, EPA finalized procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests for advice from the Science Advisory Board (SAB). According to EPA officials, the agency will also make modifications to the SAB charter to be consistent with the process. When the charter is updated, we will review it to determine whether clarifying language included meets the intent of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure compliance with ERDDAA when handling congressional requests for scientific advice from EPA's SAB, the EPA Administrator should clarify in policy documents when it is and when it is not appropriate for the EPA Administrator to forward advice to the requesting committee.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, EPA finalized procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests for advice from the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to determine which questions should be taken up by the SAB. These procedures, however, do not ensure compliance with ERDDAA because they fail to recognize that under ERDDAA, the SAB is required to provide requested scientific advice to select committees. The procedures lay out a process and criteria for reviewing congressional requests for SAB advice which include: 1) the scope of EPA's legal authorities; 2) whether the requested advice is related to the science and technical aspect of the environmental issue, rather than a question of public policy; and 3) EPA priorities and strategic plan. The relevant criterion for determining whether the SAB should take up a question, however, is whether it is scientific in nature. The other criteria may be relevant to EPA's prioritization of requests to the SAB in light of the SAB's limited resources.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address challenges the Task Force faces in producing comprehensive and useful assessments of progress and addressing factors that may limit GLRI progress, the EPA Administrator, in coordination with the Task Force, as appropriate, should establish an adaptive management plan that includes all of the key elements of adaptive management and provides details on how these elements will be implemented.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, EPA notified GAO that the final GLRI adaptive management report is due to be released in December 2017. We will review the report after it becomes available.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's management of the conditional registration process, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs to complete plans to automate data related to conditional registrations to more readily track the status of these registrations and related registrant and agency actions and identify potential problems requiring management attention.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA reported that until upgrades to OPP's database architecture are complete in the FY 18 timeframe, the agency cannot complete plans to automate data related to conditional registrations. The agency informed us that plans are currently underway to improve the functionality and accuracy of OPP databases, including the tracking of information on conditional registration. However, until this work is complete, the recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-9338

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase EPA's consistency, transparency, and clarity in implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act in a way that better assures the public of safe drinking water, and to systematically implement the statutory requirement to consider for regulation the contaminants that present the greatest public health concern, the EPA Administrator should require that the Office of Water to develop a coordinated process for obtaining both the occurrence and health effects data that may be needed for the agency to make informed regulatory determinations on these priority contaminants.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA has not demonstrated that it has developed a coordinated process for obtaining both occurrence and health effects data to make informed determinations on priority contaminants. EPA's response to this recommendation is that it will continue the status quo of obtaining occurrence data through UCMRs and work with the Office of Research and Development. As we reported, the approach EPA currently uses does not provide the agency with all of the data it needs in a timely manner to support determinations for some priority contaminants.
    Recommendation: To increase EPA's consistency, transparency, and clarity in implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act in a way that better assures the public of safe drinking water, and to support the development of regulatory determinations that are transparent, clear, and consistent and that follow applicable agency policy, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Water to expeditiously develop, and make available to the public, policies or guidance that clearly articulates the agency's interpretation of the act's broad statutory criteria for making regulatory determinations and provides a protocol for making such determinations. In particular, the guidance should establish a process to ensure that the presentation of health effects and occurrence information in regulatory determination notices and support documents is comprehensive, consistent, informative, and understandable and that it includes clear explanations of key information, such as any exceptions to existing guidance reflected in the agency's support for its regulatory determinations.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA's Preliminary Regulatory Determinations for Contaminants on the Third Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List (Reg Det 3) did not appear to include any cases in which EPA made an exception to existing guidance, negating the need for an explanation. EPA has not developed policies or guidance that establishes a process to ensure that the presentation of health effects and occurrence information in regulatory determination notices and support documents is comprehensive, consistent, informative, and understandable, and that it includes clear explanations of key information and the Protocol for Regulatory Determinations 3 does not appear to address this circumstance. Without policies or guidance establishing a process to ensure the comprehensive, consistent, informative, and understandable presentation of its regulatory determinations, there is no guarantee at this time that EPA would include this information in future regulatory determinations.
    Recommendation: To increase EPA's consistency, transparency, and clarity in implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act in a way that better assures the public of safe drinking water, and to support the development of regulatory determinations that are transparent, clear, and consistent and that follow applicable agency policy, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Water to expeditiously develop, and make available to the public, policies or guidance that clearly articulates the agency's interpretation of the act's broad statutory criteria for making regulatory determinations and provides a protocol for making such determinations. In particular, the guidance should specify that appropriate stakeholders--that is, EPA offices with relevant expertise such as the Office of Children's Health Protection and regional offices that have known or likely occurrence of the contaminants being evaluated in public water systems within their areas of jurisdiction--be encouraged and have the opportunity to participate in the regulatory determination work groups.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA's response to this recommendation reflects the practice that was in place at the time we issued our report including this recommendation. As a result, it does not appear that EPA has taken any additional action to satisfy this recommendation at this time.
    Recommendation: In light of EPA's decisions to issue health advisories in conjunction with determinations to not regulate certain contaminants that have been detected in some public water systems at levels of public health concern, the EPA Administrator should (1) determine whether the Office of Water's use of health advisories provides sufficient information on these unregulated contaminants to support timely and effective actions by states, localities, public water systems, and the public to ensure the safety of public drinking water, and (2) if not, direct the Office of Water to develop a plan to more effectively communicate such information to these entities.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA indicated that it has begun a process of developing concise updates to carry forward into its health advisory table and that the process will be completed gradually over the next year, with updates continuing in the future, but has not yet published any updates for non-microbial contaminants. In addition, EPA has not addressed the call in the recommendation for the documentation of the process to update the advisories. The agency did indicate its plan to update the Drinking Water Standards and Health Advisory table in the fall of 2016, so we will leave this recommendation open and continue to monitor for future actions.