Problems Continue in the Federal Management of the Coastal Zone Management Program

CED-80-103: Published: Jun 25, 1980. Publicly Released: Jun 25, 1980.

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Conflicting demands by industrial, commercial, and residential developers and those who wish to preserve, protect, and restore valuable resources in coastal States and territories continue in the 19 States having federally approved management programs. GAO reviewed the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program in 1976 and reported that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which administers the program, did not always understand State problems and progress. The report stated that NOAA had been long on encouraging States but short on effective monitoring and problem solving. Because States were entering a new phase in the program, GAO proposed that NOAA increase assistance in monitoring State programs, resolving special problems, and strengthening Federal/State coordination. The Department of Commerce agreed with the GAO proposals and started corrective action. A followup was made on the Federal management of the CZM program.

GAO found that many of the same problems cited in the previous report continue to exist. The program continues to need increased assistance in monitoring States, evaluating their performance and accomplishments, and providing greater problem solving assistance. Only one State had an approved program when the previous report was issued. As of May l980, 19 States have federally approved programs; however, 4 States are currently out of the program and the chances of about 4 other States achieving an approvable program are questionable. Federal management officials are responsible for annual program evaluations of approved States' CZM programs. These evaluations were performed without appropriate evaluation guidelines and criteria. GAO found serious omissions in the presentation of certain factual data in evaluation reports. In response to questions in a GAO questionnaire, a number of States said that increased Federal assistance and aid would be appreciated and would help them to deal with problems such as resolving local government issues and coordinating with other Federal agencies.

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