Environmental Cleanup:

Defense Funding Allocation Process and Reported Funding Impacts

NSIAD-99-34: Published: Nov 16, 1998. Publicly Released: Dec 2, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) the Department of Defense's (DOD) process for allocating approved environmental cleanup budgets when funds received are less than requested or budget rescissions occur; and (2) reported cleanup schedule delays due to lack of funding.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD develops and allocates approved budgets through its departmentwide planning, programming, and budget process; (2) the components used DOD guidance to establish priorities and distribute funds to the various installations, but the impact of that guidance is not necessarily traceable to specific installations or sites; (3) during fiscal years (FY) 1993 to 1997, Congress took three actions that significantly affected funding for DOD cleanup activities; (4) in FY 1995, Congress appropriated $400 million less than DOD requested and then rescinded an additional $300 million of the amount appropriated; (5) Congress appropriated $200 million less than DOD had requested for FY 1996; (6) in each case, DOD components adjusted funding priorities in light of the congressional actions and DOD guidance; (7) while specific guidance varied, both written and verbal guidance encouraged priority for sites of high risk and discouraged cleanup studies that were not essential; (8) data contained in DOD's annual reports to Congress and in DOD components' records do not show a direct relationship between installations receiving less or more funding than planned and those reporting cleanup schedule delays due to funding; (9) for example, during FY 1995 and FY 1996, about half of the Army installations with the largest decreases in funding reported cleanup schedule delays--a frequency similar to Army installations with the largest increases in funding; (10) during this period, GAO also found that actual funding changes under the DOD process often varied from that initially envisioned because of such reasons as inherent uncertainty during cleanup planning; and (11) for example, DOD initially identified a potential decrease in funding for two sites at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, whereas the Army allocated a slight overall funding increase to that installation, which has 205 cleanup sites.

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