Clean Water Act: Improved Resource Planning Would Help EPA Better Respond to Changing Needs and Fiscal Constraints

GAO-05-721 Published: Jul 22, 2005. Publicly Released: Aug 02, 2005.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights

Federal and state fiscal constraints may jeopardize past and future accomplishments resulting from the Clean Water Act (the act). In this environment, it is important to manage available resources as efficiently as possible and to identify future human capital needs, including the size of the workforce and its deployment across the organization. GAO was asked to determine (1) the extent to which the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) process for budgeting and allocating resources considers the nature and distribution of its Clean Water Act workload and (2) the actions EPA is taking to improve resource planning and the challenges the agency faces in doing so.

Skip to Recommendations


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Environmental Protection Agency The Administrator, EPA, should identify the key workload indicators that drive resource needs, ensure that relevant data are complete and reliable, and use the results to inform the agency's budgeting and resource allocation.
Closed – Implemented
EPA agreed with the recommendation, and has since begun reviewing methodologies to assess the alignment between workforce allocations and workload drivers. The Office of the Chief Financial Officer has selected a contractor to analyze methodologies in the availability and proper use of data, and that work is presently underway.
Environmental Protection Agency To ensure that EPA is making the best use of resources dedicated to strategic workforce planning, EPA should coordinate ongoing planning efforts across the agency to avoid duplication.
Closed – Implemented
EPA agreed with this recommendation, and has launched what it deems to be "complementary initiatives" to address it. These involve collaborative strategic workforce planning efforts across the agency to better understand the alignment between priorities, human capital allocations, and staffing resource needs.
Environmental Protection Agency EPA's workforce planning efforts should build on what the agency has accomplished thus far in identifying priority occupations, needed competencies, and skill gaps for the agency as a whole. As a next step, consistent with GAO's 2001 recommendations, EPA should focus its efforts on a ground level assessment and identify (1) the agency's workload and skill needs; (2) the skills and deployment of existing staff, geographically and organizationally; and (3) strategies to fill identified gaps.
Closed – Implemented
Building on its collaborative strategic workforce planning effort across the agency to better understand the alignment between priorities, human capital allocations, and staffing resource needs, the agency's Office of Administration and Resource Management developed a strategic workforce plan that identified 19 mission-critical occupations (MCOs) necessary to accomplish agency goals and a blueprint for assessing the present competency levels of the MCOs. Among the MCO assessments that EPA has completed are on information technology positions and human resource management positions. It also completed a pilot assessment on leadership positions.
Environmental Protection Agency EPA should meet reporting responsibilities under section 516(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act or seek appropriate relief from the Congress.
Closed – Implemented
EPA issued the required report on the costs of implementing the Clean Water Act.

Full Report