Air Pollution:

Better Internal Controls Needed To Ensure Complete Air Regulation Dockets

RCED-88-128: Published: Apr 26, 1988. Publicly Released: May 27, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the policy and legal issues concerning the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) practice of reviewing proposed regulations concurrently with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), focusing on the Office of Air and Radiation's (OAR) proposed regulations under the Clean Air Act.

GAO found that OAR: (1) has routinely and legally used concurrent review since early 1985 to help expedite the rulemaking process; (2) frequently sent proposed regulations to OMB before it internally resolved all issues associated with the regulations; (3) use of concurrent review did not affect public knowledge regarding the source of regulatory changes, but the extent and thoroughness of its documentation in the docket could; (4) discontinued use of concurrent review in January 1988 except for regulations under legislative or judicial deadlines; (5) did not comply with requirements regarding the inclusion of draft regulations in dockets; (6) did not issue written procedures to define these responsibilities or routinely inspect dockets to ensure compliance with the requirement; and (7) improved internal control procedures regarding docket contents by issuing written guidance and documentation requirements, providing project officer training, and conducting annual docket inspections.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA has completed a review of statutory requirements of its programs, and issued guidance dated October 1989.

    Recommendation: To improve OAR overall internal controls for managing its dockets and complying with the requirements of section 307 of the Clean Air Act, the Administrator, EPA, should direct that the OAR headquarters office, at the time it forwards an air regulation for publication, verify that copies of all draft regulations sent to OMB, as well as the other required materials, are in the docket. As part of this effort, EPA could also review the dockets maintained to support rulemaking in other EPA programs to ensure that they comply with their respective documentation requirements.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency


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