Environmental Compliance:

Continued Need for Guidance in Programming Defense Construction Projects

NSIAD-96-134: Published: Jun 21, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 21, 1996.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) prioritization of environmental compliance construction projects, focusing on: (1) the DOD construction program process; and (2) DOD cost estimates for future projects.

GAO found that: (1) since GAO's November 1993 report, the services have initiated actions intended to improve their processes for programming and prioritizing environmental compliance construction projects; (2) however, neither the current nor proposed DOD policy specifies how the services should report costs related to environmental compliance construction projects and how they should determine which appropriation account should provide the funds; (3) consequently, the services and DLA continue to vary the manner in which they classify and prioritize the projects and determine the source of funds for them; (4) the continuing lack of such guidance and the inconsistencies inhibit congressional oversight and DOD's program management; (5) DOD-wide estimates for fiscal year 1997 environmental compliance construction requirements fell from $257 million in February 1995 to $84 million in April 1996; (6) due to the lack of a uniform approach to categorizing such projects, GAO cannot determine whether this drop in funding is a result of a reduction in the need for such projects or simply a reflection of differing procedures for categorization; (7) the reasons for reductions fell into several different categories, for example, lack of documentation, decisions to fund in later years, or decreased project costs.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In subsequent legislation (S. Rpt. 104-287, June 20, 1996), Congress expressed continuing concern about the lack of consistency and project prioritization among the various accounts. Congress directed GAO to review a subsequent year's appropriation and make recommendations.

    Matter: Given the DOD belief that more consistent guidance is unnecessary, Congress may wish to direct DOD to act now to ensure that projects are consistently funded and reported for the FY 1998 budget submission to Congress or to no longer use environmental compliance to justify higher priority for military construction funding.


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