Chemical Safety Board:

Status of Implementation Efforts

T-RCED-99-167: Published: Apr 29, 1999. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 1999.

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Peter F. Guerrero
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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO discussed the status of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board's: (1) investigations and recommendations; (2) pay structure and use of staff; and (3) contracting activities.

GAO noted that: (1) the Board has undertaken 11 full-scale investigations of chemical incidents and issued reports with recommendations on 2 of them; (2) draft reports are in process for 7 of the remaining investigations; (3) the Board's recommendations have been aimed at encouraging industry and government agencies to upgrade their procedures, training, and communication of hazards; (4) as of February 1, 1999, the Board had 20 employees widely distributed among its offices, such as investigations, general counsel, and external relations, and 4 Board members; (5) the average compensation is about $89,000 in salary and benefits; (6) the Board expects this average compensation to be reduced to about $68,000 if it receives approval to hire up to 60 employees; (7) GAO identified 8 contracts between the Board and other entities that cost $100,000 or more; (8) the total cost of the 8 contracts was about $3 million; (9) about one-third of this amount directly supported the Board's investigations; (10) the balance involved acquiring such goods and services as the development of a web site, the establishment of a chemical incident data base, and the production of an informational video; (11) GAO has two main concerns about the Board's actions to date; (12) the Board has not updated its August 1997 Business Plan to reflect the unanticipated backlog of ongoing investigations; (13) critical to any effective plan for addressing this backlog is an examination of how the Board chooses cases to investigate and how it allocates its existing and future resources; (14) the Board has not instituted formal, written procedures for its staff to follow in awarding and managing contracts; and (15) such procedures can help ensure adequate internal controls and help avoid some contracting problems encountered by the Board.

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