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    Subject Term: "Waste disposal"

    7 publications with a total of 18 open recommendations including 3 priority recommendations
    Director: Cary Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better position combatant commanders to implement the requirements of DOD Instruction 4715.19 if burn pits become necessary and to assist in planning for waste disposal in future military operations, the Secretary of Defense should direct the combatant commanders of U.S. Africa Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Pacific Command, and U.S. Southern Command to establish implementation policies and procedures for waste management. Such policies and procedures should include, as applicable, specific organizations within each combatant command with responsibility for ensuring compliance with relevant policies and procedures, including burn pit notification, and, when appropriate, monitoring and reporting on the use of burn pits.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better understand the long-term health effects of exposure to the disposal of covered waste in burn pits, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to, in coordination with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, specifically examine the relationship between direct, individual, burn pit exposure and potential long-term health-related issues. As part of that examination, consider the results of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's report on the Department of Veteran Affairs registry and the methodology outlined in the 2011 Institute of Medicine study that suggests the need to evaluate the health status of service members from their time of deployment over many years to determine their incidence of chronic disease, with particular attention to the collection of data at the individual level, including the means by which that data is obtained.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better understand the long-term health effects of exposure to the disposal of covered waste in burn pits, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to take steps to ensure United States Central Command and other geographic combatant commands, as appropriate, establish processes to consistently monitor burn pit emissions for unacceptable exposures.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE develops and uses reliable cost and schedule estimates and AOAs, the Secretary of Energy should direct Office of Environmental Management (EM) to revise its protocol governing cleanup operations activities to require use of best practices in developing cost and schedule estimates.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. In its written comments, DOE stated that EM is transitioning from the operations activities protocol to a new directive that is expected to include a key decision approving a cost and schedule baseline. As EM develops the guidance for this key decision, it will include the use of cost and schedule best practices. In April 2017, however, EM indicated that it plans to issue a revised EM operations activities protocol in fiscal year 2017 for use in fiscal year 2018 instead of a new directive. According to an EM official, EM will include best practices for cost and schedule estimation in the revised protocol. When EM completes the revised protocol, we will evaluate the actions taken and whether the recommendation should be closed.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE develops and uses reliable cost and schedule estimates and AOAs, the Secretary of Energy should direct EM to implement the recommendation made by DOE's Office of Project Management Oversight and Assessments in its independent review of the AOA for WIPP's new permanent ventilation system to perform a cost-benefit analysis consistent with best practices for conducting an AOA, or justify and document why the office does not intend to do so.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with clarification to the recommendation. In its written comments to our report, DOE stated that in accordance with GAO best practices, it will conduct further cost-benefit analysis on the WIPP ventilation system project prior to approval of Critical Decision-2, Approve Performance Baseline. DOE stated that several alternatives remain to be evaluated including the size of the ventilation system and the location of the exhaust shaft. In March 2017, a DOE Carlsbad Field Office official overseeing the project said that the project team completed an additional analysis of alternatives (AOA) for the ventilation system project at WIPP and a revised business case for the alternative to construct a safety significant confinement ventilation system and exhaust shaft that addresses the recommendations from the Department of Energy's Office of Project Management Oversight and Assessment. After we obtain a copy of the completed AOA, we will evaluate the action taken to determine whether to close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE develops and uses reliable cost and schedule estimates and AOAs, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE to revise its Order 413.3B to require that DOE offices implement any recommendations from an independent review of the extent to which an AOA followed best practices, or justify and document the rationale for not doing so.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation and in its written comments to our report stated that it will prepare a project management policy on how DOE offices should respond to recommendations from independent reviews by December 2016. In addition, DOE stated that it will update DOE Order 413.3B with the new policy at the next available opportunity. In November 2017, a DOE official from the Office of Project Management, Oversight, and Assessments (PMOA) said that PMOA developed a project management policy statement on how DOE offices should disposition recommendations from independent reviews and PMOA intended to incorporate the policy into its planned update of DOE Guide 413.3-9 Project Review Guide for Capital Asset Projects, which was to be completed by December 2016. As of April 2017, according to a DOE official, development of the updated project review guide was on hold indefinitely along with all other actions to publish new, or update existing departmental directives in response to the two Presidential Executive Orders issued in January and February 2017 that directed federal agencies to, among other things, reduce and reform agency regulations.
    Director: Zina Merritt
    Phone: (202) 512-5257

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide greater assurance that material declaration standards under development by the Emerging Contaminants Governance Council include strategic and critical materials, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director, Defense Logistics Agency, to take steps to ensure that strategic and critical material needs are included in the development of department-wide material content declaration standards and any associated changes in guidance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on the draft report, DOD stated that it concurs that strategic and critical materials must be included in any material declaration standard. DOD stated that the Emerging Contaminants Governance Council will work with industry in a joint effort to develop a national material content declaration standard. Specifically, DOD staff have initiated discussions with government and industry counterparts and proposed a workshop to outline the actions needed to develop the standard. DOD did not provide an estimated completion date, stating that this was contingent on the availability of other parties to meet and the time needed to reach consensus.
    Director: Zina Merritt
    Phone: (202) 512-5257

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency of DOD's conventional demilitarization efforts, including systematically collecting and maintaining key information about the items in its CAD stockpile and sharing information on excess items with other government agencies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to improve the completeness and accuracy of information on the weight of items in the CAD stockpile--the key measure used by DOD to manage the conventional ammunition demilitarization operation--establish a plan to (1) identify and record, to the extent possible, the missing or inaccurate weight information for existing ammunition records in the CAD stockpile and (2) ensure that all items transferred to the CAD stockpile, including for example components removed from larger weapons and nonstandard ammunition, have the appropriate weight data.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: Officials with the Joint Munitions Command stated that they continually monitor the inventory and correct any erroneous or missing data, which includes weight data. However, they had not yet developed a plan specifically focused on correcting weight data for ammunition in the Conventional Ammunition Demilitarization (CAD) stockpile.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency of DOD's conventional demilitarization efforts, including systematically collecting and maintaining key information about the items in its CAD stockpile and sharing information on excess items with other government agencies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to improve the visibility and awareness of serviceable excess ammunition in the CAD stockpile that could potentially be transferred to other government agencies, develop a systematic means to make information available to other government agencies on excess ammunition that could be used to meet their needs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, according to Department of Defense (DOD) officials, the department has made progress in developing a systematic process for sharing information on excess serviceable ammunition and plans, as GAO recommended in July 2015, but has not fully implemented that process. Specifically, the Army?s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics signed a memorandum of understanding with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Disposition Services that established a process where DLA will assist the Army in transferring some excess DOD ammunition to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Annually, the Army will provide DLA with a list of available types and quantities of excess ammunition that is 7.62 millimeters and smaller. DLA Disposition Services will inform participating law enforcement agencies of the ammunition available, screen all requests received from law enforcement agencies, and forward all approved law enforcement agency requests to the Army. The Army will prepare all necessary issue documents; pack and ship, on a reimbursable basis, ammunition to law enforcement agencies identified by DLA; and notify DLA and law enforcement agencies of any changes in condition of the ammunition. DOD and DLA conducted a pilot of this process from November 2016 to June 2017 in which DOD, through DLA, shared information on excess small arms ammunition with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. As a result, DOD transferred 1,209,095 rounds of 5.56-millimeter ammunition and 200,000 rounds of 9-millimeter ammunition to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Since DOD was able to transfer this ammunition to another government agency, it does not have to pay to demilitarize (i.e. dispose of) the ammunition, which saved DOD about $60,000 in demilitarization costs. DOD officials stated that they are currently updating the Joint Conventional Ammunition Policies and Procedures (JCAPP) to formalize the procedures to accurately identify, execute, and track future transfers of excess small arms ammunition to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Once JCAPP is updated, this recommendation would be considered fully implemented.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should, in assessing the alternatives, revise cost and schedule estimates for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System and the Tank Waste Characterization and Staging facility in accordance with industry best practices.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will monitor the status of this proposed requirement.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should revise the statements of mission need for the two proposed projects to allow DOE to consider a variety of alternatives without limiting potential solutions, consistent with the DOE requirement that mission need statements should not identify particular solution such as equipment, facility, or technology.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOE DARTS report on 5/19/16, revision of the statement of mission for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System "has become overcome by events". We will continue to follow up on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should, in accordance with DOE's Office of River Protection quality assurance policy, conduct an extent-of-condition review for WTP's High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities' systems that have not been reviewed by DOE.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE agreed with the recommendations and in its written responses to our report stated that it had implemented them. However, we believe additional actions are needed, as indicated in the priority recommendations letter we sent to DOE in 2017. To fully address the recommendations, DOE should conduct an extent-of-condition review for WTP's High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities' systems.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should consider whether or to what extent construction activities for the High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities should be further limited until aggressive risk mitigation strategies are developed and employed to address technical challenges that DOE, the contractor, and others have identified but not yet resolved.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE has noted that these activities were already limited and stated that a specific set of criteria has been established for resuming construction on the High Level Waste facility. However, as we noted in our report, an extent-of-condition review has not been performed on the remainder of the facility's systems, and recommendations from the facility's design and operability review have not been implemented. DOE also stated that construction on the Low Activity Waste facility is nearly complete, that the WTP Federal Project Director has a detailed risk register, and that each remaining risk is being proactively mitigated. This statement, however, does not fully reflect the extent or potential seriousness of the technical risks that remain. An extent-of-condition review may mean limiting the production of new design documents until this review is complete in order to avoid potential costly rework. We believe additional actions are needed. To fully address the recommendation, DOE should consider whether or to what extent construction activities for those facilities should be further limited until this review is completed and aggressive risk mitigation strategies are developed and employed.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should enlist the services of another agency or external entity to serve as an owner's agent to assist the Office of River Protection in reviewing and evaluating the WTP contractor's design and approach to mitigating design challenges.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress required DOE to meet this requirement in the 2016 NDAA, and DOE reports that they issued a contract to Parsons Government Services on September 29, 2015. We have requested a copy of this contract for review to ensure that the recommendation has been addressed.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To develop an estimate of the scope of work remaining to address uranium contamination on or near the Navajo reservation, Congress should consider requiring that the Environmental Protection Agency take the lead and work with the other federal agencies to develop an overall estimate of the remaining scope of the work, time frames, and costs.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we are not aware of any legislation being enacted to address this matter for congressional consideration.
    Recommendation: In light of the problems BIA has encountered in managing the cleanup at the Tuba City Dump site, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to employ best practices in creating the schedule and cost estimates for the remedial action cleanup phase.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In light of the problems BIA has encountered in managing the cleanup at the Tuba City Dump site, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to identify and examine any lessons learned from managing the remedial investigation and feasibility study contract and consider these lessons as part of the acquisition planning process for the remedial action contract.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better enable EPA and its partner agencies to minimize the environmental risks resulting from future disasters, the EPA Administrator should work with potentially affected federal land management agencies, the Coast Guard, DHS, and FEMA to determine what actions are needed to ensure that environmental contamination on federal lands, such as national wildlife refuges, can be expeditiously and efficiently addressed in future disasters. Potential actions include the development of protocols or memorandums of understanding or amendments to the Stafford Act if the agencies determine that amendments are needed to achieve the timely availability of such funding when responding to disasters involving federal lands.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, EPA reported that the National Response Team considered this issue but decided that it was addressed by the Major Disasters, Section 405 of the Stafford Act and that no further action was needed. We will update the status of this recommendation when we complete our review of Section 405 and determine whether additional actions by EPA are needed to respond to disasters involving federal lands.