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Highlights

This report provides information on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) management and oversight of project grants. Specifically, GAO examines (1) the dollar amounts of project grants EPA awarded in fiscal years 1996 through 1999 and the program activities they funded, by grantee type; (2) how the activities funded by the project grants align with the Government Performance and Results Act goals and objectives identified by EPA; and (3) the extent to which EPA uses its authority to deviate from relevant regulations in awarding grants. GAO found that EPA awarded about 17,000 project grants totaling more than $2.8 billion in fiscal years 1996 through 1999. Five categories accounted for nearly 80 percent of all project grant funds (1) general investigations, surveys or studies involving air and water quality; (2) research; (3) studies and cleanups of specific hazardous waste sites; (4) nonprofit organizations; and (5) training activities. EPA identified about 82 percent of the $1.4 billion in project grants awarded in fiscal years 1999 and 2000 as supporting four strategic goals under the Results Act. GAO found this to be the case in 93 of 100 grants reviewed. EPA used its authority to deviate from regulations in awarding 25 of the 100 grants GAO reviewed.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Environmental Protection Agency To ensure that EPA's fellowship regulations are consistent with the actual practices, the Administrator, EPA, should direct the Assistant Administrator for Administration and Resources Management to include in future amendments to its fellowship regulations the funding amounts, time periods, and payment methods that will meet the needs of the Science to Achieve Results fellowship grant program.
Closed - Implemented
EPA has revised its fellowship regulations to implement this recommendation and forwarded the regulations in August 2002 as interim final regulations in the Federal Register. The background section of the revised regulations state that "Also the General Accounting Office reviewed the EPA fellowship program and found that, in order to award fellowships in compliance with regulation, the agency was relying on approved exceptions from the regulations. For these reasons, EPA is revising the regulation to update and clarify requirements."

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