Oil Spill Prevention:

Progress Made in Developing Alaska Demonstration Programs

RCED-93-178: Published: Aug 5, 1993. Publicly Released: Aug 5, 1993.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided information on the effectiveness and management of two Alaska oil spill demonstration programs, focusing on whether: (1) the programs have increased citizen, industry, and government awareness of environmental issues; and (2) policies and procedures have been established that encourage cooperation and foster successful long-term partnerships.

GAO found that: (1) although the two demonstration programs have successfully increased citizen councils' involvement in environmental monitoring of oil terminal and tanker operations and stimulated public awareness, they lack adequate policies and procedures to build consensus and foster successful partnerships; (2) the lack of cooperation and consensus that remains between citizen councils, industry, and government can be attributed to disagreements concerning the design and scope of council projects, review and release of study results, extent of the councils' role in advocating change, and degree of participation by key federal agencies; (3) although the industry, government, and councils have established some policies and procedures to improve communication and strengthen partnerships, there is considerable mistrust between the industry and councils; (4) the Coast Guard has developed specific program guidelines to reduce the level of mistrust and ensure the long-term effectiveness of the programs; and (5) the citizen councils' policies, procedures, and internal controls for operations and funds management are adequate and include no material weaknesses or improprieties.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Coast Guard prepared an annual report to Congress as recommended. It was issued in April 1995.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard to report annually to Congress on: (1) the progress of the Alaska demonstration programs in achieving the act's purposes; and (2) whether the demonstration programs have reached such a level that they should be used as models if Congress considers expanding the programs to other locations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: On the basis of progress that has been made regarding EPA's involvement with the councils, the Department does not anticipate the need for a formal memorandum of understanding with EPA.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should intercede, if necessary, directly with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to encourage the establishment of a memorandum of agreement on EPA participation in the Cook Inlet program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


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