Cost Growth on Remedial Construction Activities

RCED-88-69: Published: Feb 24, 1988. Publicly Released: Mar 25, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO: (1) reviewed the extent of cost growth for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) cleanup activities at Superfund sites with the highest expenditures; and (2) compared the growth with that experienced in the construction industry.

GAO found that: (1) construction expenditures for 30 long-term cleanup activities exceeding $1 million represented $94 million, or 87 percent, of $108 million in total Superfund long-term cleanup construction costs; (2) construction costs for 9 routine activities increased an average of 5 percent over the original contracts, while the 17 nonroutine activities increased an average of 19 percent; (3) the four activities that did not fit within the routine or nonroutine categories had an average growth of 8 percent; (4) although new Superfund legislation emphasizes cleanup activities that should permanently or significantly reduce contamination, these cleanups often cost more because of the use of new technologies; and (5) as overall Superfund cost growth rises, EPA may need to analyze the causes for growth and determine whether to take actions to control it.

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