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    Subject Term: Wastewater

    10 publications with a total of 24 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of EPA's Office of Wastewater Management should, when working with municipalities and other stakeholders to develop long-term stormwater plans, document agreements on how they will collaborate, such as in a memorandum of understanding, aligned with our key considerations for implementing interagency collaborative mechanisms. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency: Office of Wastewater Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Brian Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the information that DOD, military service officials, and installation-level utility system owners and maintainers need to make maintenance or other investment decisions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to take steps to implement existing guidance so that disruption information is consistently available at the installation level.

    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 improve the information that DOD, military service officials, and installation-level utility system owners and maintainers need to make maintenance or other investment decisions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to issue guidance to the installations to require the collection and retention of disruption.

    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 improve the information that DOD, military service officials, and installation-level utility system owners and maintainers need to make maintenance or other investment decisions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commandant of the Marine Corps to issue guidance to the installations to require the collection and retention of disruption information.

    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 provide DOD with more consistent information about the condition of DOD-owned utility systems as DOD continues to develop the SMS module for utility systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment, in coordination with the military services, to take actions to govern the consistent use of condition standards of utility systems to be assessed using the SMS utilities module, and if applicable, for other facilities assessed using other SMS modules.

    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: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that CSTAG's information needs are met for update meetings, the EPA Administrator should direct CSTAG to clarify, in its operating procedures, what type of information and documentation, if any, should be prepared by regional offices and provided to CSTAG members in advance of these meetings.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA concurred with our recommendation, stating that it will revise the CSTAG operating procedures to clearly describe the types of information and data that regional offices need to provide before update meetings. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should require and collect well-specific data on inspections from state and EPA-managed programs, including when the wells were inspected, the types of inspections conducted, and the results of the inspections in order to track progress toward state and EPA-managed annual inspection goals.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that it is working toward establishing a complete, regularly updated data set. It will work toward expanding the agency's access to well-specific data and will expand the data it has in its national UIC database. And, the agency said that it will continue to work with DOE and the Groundwater Protection Council to develop a national oil and gas gateway for well-specific data. Until such data are made available, we will leave this recommendation as open.
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should complete the aquifer exemption database and establish a way to update it to provide EPA headquarters and regions with sufficient information on aquifer exemptions to oversee state and EPA-managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, EPA published a map of aquifer exemptions online, with the exception of region 9 data. The public dataset shows the data in two dimensions and includes information such as depth of injection, surrounding geology and injectate characteristics. EPA plans to update the database annually. We will keep this recommendation open until EPA completes work on region 9.
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should clarify guidance on what data should be reported on the 7520-4 form to help ensure that the data collected are complete and consistent across state and EPA-managed programs and to provide the information EPA needs to assess whether it must take enforcement actions.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that it is working toward establishing a complete, regularly updated data set. It will work toward expanding the agency's access to well-specific data and will expand the data it has in its national UIC database. And, the agency said that it will continue to work with DOE and the Groundwater Protection Council to develop a national oil and gas gateway for well-specific data. Until such data are made available, we will leave this recommendation open.
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should conduct a workforce analysis to identify the human capital and other resources EPA needs to carry out its oversight of state and EPA-managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA disagreed and said that the best approach is to expand its evaluation of agency oversight to include elements of inspection and enforcement. Once the evaluation is complete, EPA will consider its oversight of state programs. We will keep this recommendation open until EPA completes its review and determines what it will do with its oversight.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: As EPA and USDA continue to consider ways to track and promote water utilities' implementation of asset management, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water and Office of Wastewater Management to continue to include questions on water utilities' use of asset management in the clean water needs assessment and consider including questions about water utilities' use of asset management in future drinking water infrastructure needs assessment surveys.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 2017, EPA has convened a workgroup of 40 people representing states, technical advisers, EPA, and USDA. It will develop new asset management outreach tools directed towards local decision makers. The group will meet quarterly and plans to issue tools and resources by fall 2017.
    Recommendation: As EPA and USDA continue to consider ways to track and promote water utilities' implementation of asset management, the Administrator of EPA, and the Secretary of USDA, through the Rural Development Agency, should consider compiling into one document the existing cases and examples of the benefits and costs of asset management and widely share this information with water utilities.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, EPA has convened a workgroup of 40 people representing states, technical advisers, EPA, and USDA. It will develop new asset management outreach tools directed towards local decision makers. The group will meet quarterly and plans to issue tools and resources by fall 2017.
    Recommendation: As EPA and USDA continue to consider ways to track and promote water utilities' implementation of asset management, the Administrator of EPA, and the Secretary of USDA, through the Rural Development Agency, should consider compiling into one document the existing cases and examples of the benefits and costs of asset management and widely share this information with water utilities.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, EPA had convened a workgroup of 40 people representing states, technical advisers, EPA, and USDA. It will develop new asset management outreach tools directed towards local decision makers. The group will meet quarterly and plans to issue a best practices document by April 2017 and a webinar by May 2017.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's review and oversight of the SRF program, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Water to update the financial indicators guidance to include one or more of EPA's financial measures for identifying the growth of states' SRF funds.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of April 2017, EPA is finalizing changes to its financial indicators to help identify the growth of states' SRF funds, according to EPA officials. EPA officials told us it had established a joint EPA/state workgroup that proposed draft financial indicators for the State Revolving Funds (SRF). These draft indicators are intended to address financial sustainability and the extent to which funds are being used efficiently. EPA plans to issue a memorandum to finalize these updated indicators in the summer of 2017. GAO will review EPA's memorandum when it is issued to determine if the recommendation can be closed.
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's review and oversight of the SRF program, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Water to use information on SRF funds' past performance to develop projections of SRF programs by forecasting future lending capacity during regional office reviews of states' SRF programs using factors such as future interest earnings and inflation rates.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, EPA is finalizing its tools and guidance to regional offices to forecast states' future lending capacity, according to EPA officials. EPA officials told us that it had enhanced its State Revolving Fund (SRF) Financial Planning Model to align future loan projections with target cash balances. EPA's Office of Water will work with EPA regional offices to use the updated SRF Financial Planning Model for SRF forecasts that will support annual regional reviews of state SRF programs. EPA will update its guidance to EPA regional offices to use these forecasts in their reviews of the state SRF programs beginning in 2017 or early 2018. GAO will review EPA's guidance when it is finalized to determine if this recommendation can be closed.
    Director: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve the comprehensiveness and accuracy of certain data submitted by the military services to OSD and reported in the Energy Reports--such as potentially underreported data on mitigation costs and inaccurate data on both disruptions' duration and cost--the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment to work together to improve the effectiveness of data validation steps in DOD's process for collecting and reporting utilities disruption data. For example, the military services and OSD could determine whether more time in the 5-month process should be devoted to data validation and whether equal priority should be given to validating all types of data included in the Energy Reports.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation to improve the effectiveness of data validation steps in DOD's process for collecting and reporting utilities disruption data. In a memo from April 2016, DOD stated that it determined that focusing on the minimization of data input errors at the installation level was the most effective strategy to improve the effectiveness of data validation. Further, resolving initial input errors was determined to be the least resource and cost intensive approach to improve data quality. Therefore, DOD updated its data collection template for utility disruptions to include a dropdown menu so that users can use it to select the category of utility service that was disrupted. In addition, DOD stated that it expects to continue to work with the services and Defense Agencies in the next reporting cycle for the Annual Energy Management Report to improve the effectiveness of data validation steps.
    Director: Stephen Caldwell
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Within DHS, to promote efficiency and harmonize the various assessments to advance security and resilience across the spectrum of CI in a manner consistent with the Homeland Security Act of 2002, PPD-21, and the NIPP, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate work with other DHS offices and components to develop and implement ways that DHS can facilitate data sharing and coordination of vulnerability assessments to minimize the risk of potential duplication or gaps in coverage.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS has taken action in response to GAO's September 2014 recommendation to develop a department-wide process to facilitate data sharing and coordination among the various DHS components that conduct or require vulnerability assessments, but has not fully implemented the recommendation. DHS first reported to GAO in August 2015 that its Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) and the Sector Outreach and Programs Division Innovation Center had formed a vulnerability assessment working group comprised of a variety of federal stakeholders, both within and outside DHS, to enhance overall integration and coordination of vulnerability assessment efforts. In December 2015, DHS stated that IP was conducting pilot projects to expand access to its IPGateway portal--IP's system that houses infrastructure data and identifies facilities that have been assessed by IP. In a July 2016 update, DHS reported that IP had reached agreement with DHS components to expand access to its IP Gateway portal to those partners as a means to share IP's vulnerability assessment information and help coordinate assessment visits and related activities. DHS also noted in its update that IP had begun providing access to IP Gateway to components within DHS but did not provide a date as to when that step would be complete. These are positive steps toward implementing a systematic and integrated approach for facilitating data sharing and coordination of vulnerability assessments throughout the department. However, developing a department-wide process to facilitate data sharing and coordination among the DHS offices and components that conduct or require vulnerability assessments would better enable DHS to minimize the risk of potential duplication and gaps by its offices and components in the vulnerability assessments they conduct. Because DHS is still in the process of completing these steps, the recommendation has not yet been fully implemented.
    Recommendation: Regarding SSAs and other federal departments or agencies external to DHS with CI security-related responsibilities that offer or conduct vulnerability assessment tools and methods and building on our recommendation that DHS review its own vulnerability assessments, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate to work with SSAs and other federal agencies that have CI security responsibilities to identify key CI security-related assessment tools and methods used or offered by SSAs and other federal agencies.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, DHS has established a Cross-Sector Integration and Innovation Center in conjunction with the Office of Infrastructure Protection, and has designed, created, and launched a Cross-Agency Vulnerability Assessment Working Group portal on the Homeland Security Information Network-Critical Infrastructure (HSIN-CI). The Working Group, consisting of members from multiple departments and agencies, is collaborating to enhance the integration and coordination of vulnerability assessment efforts. This working group is intended to serve as an interagency forum to address several recommendations from GAO Report 14-507. However, the effort is ongoing and it is too early to determine if it will successfully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: Regarding SSAs and other federal departments or agencies external to DHS with CI security-related responsibilities that offer or conduct vulnerability assessment tools and methods and building on our recommendation that DHS review its own vulnerability assessments, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate to work with SSAs and other federal agencies that have CI security responsibilities to analyze the key CI security-related assessment tools and methods offered by sector-specific agencies (SSA) and other federal agencies to determine the areas they capture.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, DHS has established a Cross-Sector Integration and Innovation Center in conjunction with the Office of Infrastructure Protection, and has designed, created, and launched a Cross-Agency Vulnerability Assessment Working Group portal on the Homeland Security Information Network-Critical Infrastructure (HSIN-CI). The Working Group, consisting of members from multiple departments and agencies, is collaborating to enhance the integration and coordination of vulnerability assessment efforts. This working group is intended to serve as an interagency forum to address several recommendations from GAO Report 14-507. However, the effort is ongoing and it is too early to determine if it will successfully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: Regarding SSAs and other federal departments or agencies external to DHS with CI security-related responsibilities that offer or conduct vulnerability assessment tools and methods and building on our recommendation that DHS review its own vulnerability assessments, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate to work with SSAs and other federal agencies that have CI security responsibilities to develop and provide guidance for what areas should be included in vulnerability assessments of CI that can be used by DHS, SSAs, and other CI partners in an integrated and coordinated manner, among and across sectors, where appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, DHS has established a Cross-Sector Integration and Innovation Center in conjunction with the Office of Infrastructure Protection, and has designed, created, and launched a Cross-Agency Vulnerability Assessment Working Group portal on the Homeland Security Information Network-Critical Infrastructure (HSIN-CI). The Working Group, consisting of members from multiple departments and agencies, is collaborating to enhance the integration and coordination of vulnerability assessment efforts. This working group is intended to serve as an interagency forum to address several recommendations from GAO Report 14-507. However, the effort is ongoing and it is too early to determine if it will successfully address the recommendation.
    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: 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.