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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO determined the extent to which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been carrying out its responsibilities under the Superfund program. HHS responsibilities under Superfund include: (1) information collection, analysis, and management; (2) provision of medical services, including care, testing, and research; and (3) development of standards to protect hazardous waste workers.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
As Congress deliberates the future of Superfund, particularly the health-related responsibilities of HHS, it may wish to consider: (1) the workability of the existing arrangement whereby EPA controls HHS funding levels; and (2) whether additional staff positions should be authorized for HHS activities to avert past situations where HHS had inadequate funds or staff to carry out its plans.
Closed - Implemented
Congress enacted P.L. 99-499, which provides that health-related activities under Superfund will be carried out by HHS under the auspices of EPA. EPA continues to control funding for HHS activities. This act provides that a minimum of 100 full-time employees will be available to carry out these activities and that not less that $50 million will be directly available for HHS activities.
If Congress considers the HHS interpretations of its role under the act to be inconsistent with congressional intent, it may wish to: (1) clarify the purpose and intent of the national exposure and disease registries and the types of information to be included; (2) clarify the extent to which medical care is to be provided; and (3) define such terms as exposed individuals and public health emergencies.
Closed - Implemented
Congress enacted P.L. 99-499, under which HHS retained all existing health-related authorities under Superfund and added several new authorities. The new law, however, did not change the HHS role under Superfund, nor were any of the issues discussed in the report further clarified.

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