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Hazardous Waste: New Approach Needed to Manage the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

RCED-88-115 Published: Jul 19, 1988. Publicly Released: Jul 19, 1988.
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GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) progress in implementing Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) provisions to determine whether EPA was: (1) identifying and regulating hazardous wastes; (2) ensuring RCRA facilities' compliance with regulatory controls; and (3) encouraging waste minimization.


Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Congress may wish to amend RCRA to require EPA to undertake, in consultation with Congress, such a planning and management effort. The objective would be to establish measurable goals for priority areas and a long-term strategy to achieve the goals. Congress may also wish to expand RCRA annual reporting requirements to include a report on EPA progress in attaining the established goals.
Closed – Not Implemented
Reauthorization of RCRA has been delayed indefinitely, and this recommendation has been open for 6 years with no action by Congress.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Environmental Protection Agency To give a greater sense of direction to the RCRA program, the Administrator, EPA, should, in consultation with Congress, engage in strategic planning for priority efforts. This planning effort should include a strategy that identifies specific measurable goals, the tasks necessary to accomplish the goals, milestones, required resources, organizational responsibilities, and periodic reporting on progress in achieving the stated goals. An integral part of this strategy should include development of the data necessary to formulate and measure progress in attaining such goals. The priority efforts that make up this strategy should, at a minimum, include identifying and regulating hazardous wastes, ensuring regulatory compliance, and encouraging waste minimization.
Closed – Implemented
EPA, in its RCRA implementation study, stated that it needs to prioritize its RCRA efforts and be more proactive in setting its agenda for the 1990s. On September 25, 1990, EPA wrote a letter to GAO stating that its actions called for in its RCRA implementation study were in response to the recommendation.

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Environmental lawEnvironmental monitoringEnvironmental policiesHazardous substancesHealth hazardsNoncompliancePollution controlRegulatory agenciesWaste disposalWaste management