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Priority Open Recommendations: Environmental Protection Agency

GAO-23-106460 Published: May 09, 2023. Publicly Released: May 16, 2023.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help the federal government save money, address issues on our High Risk List, and significantly improve government operations.

This letter to the Environmental Protection Agency outlines 15 open recommendations that it should prioritize. For example, 4 of the recommendations would help EPA protect bodies of freshwater by monitoring, forecasting, and preventing algae overgrowths that can make harmful toxins and deplete oxygen in water.

EPA implemented 1 recommendation we identified as a priority last year and is making progress on others.

We regularly update priority recommendations here.

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What GAO Found

In July 2022, GAO identified 12 priority recommendations for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since then, EPA has implemented one of those recommendations by updating the website for the agency's Integrated Risk Information System and communicating information about changes in assessment milestones to EPA program offices.

In April 2023, GAO identified four additional priority recommendations for EPA, bringing the total number to 15. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • assessing and controlling toxic chemicals,
  • improving the nation's water quality,
  • ensuring cybersecurity at EPA,
  • addressing data and risk communication issues for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure,
  • managing climate change risks, and
  • protecting the nation's air quality.

EPA's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact Mark Gaffigan at (202) 512-3841 or

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