Environmental Compliance:

Guidance Needed in Programming Defense Construction Projects

NSIAD-94-22: Published: Nov 26, 1993. Publicly Released: Nov 26, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) military construction appropriation, focusing on the: (1) future funding requirements for DOD environmental compliance; and (2) differences in how the services identify, classify, and fund environmental compliance projects.

GAO found that: (1) although DOD believes its annual cost for environmental compliance will decline, but these costs could be higher than current DOD estimates; (2) DOD compliance costs are unpredictable and will probably increase due to more stringent environmental requirements; (3) a large portion of DOD future costs will result from unmet current environmental requirements; (4) the services use inconsistent processes for identifying, classifying, and funding environmental projects; (5) the services have not effectively implemented their environmental compliance assessment programs; (6) DOD cannot reliably measure its environmental investment costs because the services use different appropriations to fund similar environmental projects; (7) most of DOD project funding is not subject to detailed project-level review; (8) more consistent processes for classifying and funding DOD environmental projects would help to ensure that environmental compliance costs are properly identified and prioritized and give DOD and Congress a basis for making funding trade-offs and preventing funding inequities; and (9) the services are developing approaches to ensure that their compliance needs are identified and addressed, but DOD needs to provide more comprehensive guidance to the services on project classification, project reporting, and funding methods.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Environmental Security) is refining the DOD overall environmental management approach and as this is done, final guidance will be issued. However, it appears little additional guidance will be given.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop guidance to assist the services in consistently classifying projects as environmental or to meet a mission or other requirement. This guidance should specify how the services will report costs related to meeting environmental requirements for projects classified as other than environmental and from which appropriations the projects should be funded.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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