Concerns Over the Integrity of EPA's Data Bases

RCED-90-232: Published: Sep 21, 1990. Publicly Released: Sep 21, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) pesticide and disinfectant data systems, focusing on: (1) the Pesticide Product Information System (PPIS); (2) the Pesticide Document Management System (PDMS); and (3) the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and Toxic Substances Control Act Enforcement System (FATES).

GAO found that: (1) key data on disinfectants were inaccurate, incomplete, or missing; (2) PPIS had inaccurate data on the number of disinfectants registered to kill tuberculosis bacteria; (3) EPA did not know the extent to which pesticide data in the systems were inaccurate or incomplete, but estimated that it could be in the 60-percent range; (4) EPA lacked adequate procedures for ensuring that data were accurately coded and entered into the system and for ensuring that data remained current; (5) PDMS was missing some data on disinfectant efficacy studies that registrants submitted to EPA between January 1, 1985, and June 26, 1989; (6) FATES did not include production data for some disinfectants; (7) although EPA intended some of the elements in the systems to include the same data, there were some strong indications that they did not; (8) EPA did not consistently classify and code disinfectants in a way that completely distinguished them from other types of antimicrobial pesticides in the three systems; and (9) EPA plans to improve the systems did not address data integrity.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA believes a special strategy is unwarranted, but has taken other steps to secure more reliable data.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances (OPTS) to develop and implement a strategy for resolving the data integrity problems that GAO identified in the data on disinfectants in PPIS, PDMS, and FATES, especially the need to establish procedures to ensure that data are accurately, completely, and consistently entered into automated systems and that the data are kept up to date.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EAP has initiated system and quality control improvements which will address deficiencies for all types of data.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct OPTS to determine the extent to which the identified data integrity problems apply to data on pesticides other than disinfectants and takes corrective action as warranted.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency


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