Water Pollution Monitoring:

EPA's Permit Compliance System Could Be Used More Effectively

IMTEC-92-58BR: Published: Jun 22, 1992. Publicly Released: Jun 22, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Permit Compliance System's (PCS) capabilities; (2) EPA assessments of any alternative technologies to the existing data entry process; (3) the total number of facilities listed in PCS with detailed data; (4) resource expenditures for data entry on minor facilities; and (5) approximate PCS operating costs.

GAO found that: (1) PCS enables EPA to monitor and track compliance of permitted National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) facilities; (2) PCS is not fully utilized by all states because it is not user-friendly; (3) of the 64,227 NPDES facilities, 7,139 major facilities and 21,187 minor facilities currently utilize PCS for detailed data entry; (4) EPA is currently considering such new technologies such as optical character recognition and electronic data interchange to facilitate more efficient data entry, but needs to perform cost-benefit analyses and compare these technologies with alternative systems; (5) currently 76 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees are required to enter detailed data for the 21,187 minor facilities, with an estimated 109 FTE needed to enter data for the remaining facilities; and (6) operating costs for PCS in fiscal year 1991, including state data entry costs, totalled about $5.9 million.

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