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    Federal Agency: "Environmental Protection Agency"

    53 publications with a total of 109 open recommendations including 17 priority recommendations
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should ensure that the CIO of EPA establishes an agency-wide policy and process for the CIO's certification of major IT investments' adequate use of incremental development, in accordance with OMB's guidance on the implementation of FITARA, and confirm that it includes: a description of the CIO's role in the certification process; a description of how CIO certification will be documented; and a definition of incremental development and time frames for delivering functionality, consistent with OMB guidance. (Recommendation 11)

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on our report, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concurred with our recommendation and stated that it planned to develop a policy to implement this recommendation and other FITARA issues. We will follow up with EPA to ascertain whether an agency-wide policy and process for the CIO's certification of major IT investments' adequate use of incremental development has been developed during fiscal year 2018.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of EPA's Office of Wastewater Management should, when working with municipalities and other stakeholders to develop long-term stormwater plans, document agreements on how they will collaborate, such as in a memorandum of understanding, aligned with our key considerations for implementing interagency collaborative mechanisms. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency: Office of Wastewater Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Water of EPA's Office of Water should require states to report available information about lead pipes to EPA's Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS)/Fed (or a future redesign such as SDWIS Prime) database, in its upcoming revision of the LCR. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what action the agency has taken, we will update.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Water of EPA's Office of Water should require states to report all 90th percentile sample results for small water systems to EPA's SDWIS/Fed (or a future redesign such as SDWIS Prime) database, in its upcoming revision of the LCR. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what action the agency has taken, we will update.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Water of EPA's Office of Water and the Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance should develop a statistical analysis that incorporates multiple factors--including those currently in SDWIS/Fed and others such as the presence of lead pipes and the use of corrosion control--to identify water systems that might pose a higher likelihood for violating the LCR once complete violations data are obtained, such as through SDWIS Prime. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what action the agency has taken, we will update.
    Director: William B. Shear
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address demonstrated noncompliance with section 15(k) of the Small Business Act, as amended, the Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency should comply with section 15(k)(15) or report to Congress on why the agency has not complied, including seeking any statutory flexibilities or exceptions believed appropriate.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Energy, HHS, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and VA; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of EPA, GSA, and SBA; the Director of OPM; and the Chairman of NRC should take action to, within existing OMB reporting mechanisms, complete plans describing how the agency will achieve OMB's requirement to implement automated monitoring tools at all agency-owned data centers by the end of fiscal year 2018.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) described planned actions to address our recommendation. Specifically, the agency detailed plans to address OMB's requirements, such as leveraging EPA's current investment in a network monitoring tool and the intent to procure and deploy a data center infrastructure management tool by the end of fiscal year 2018. However, EPA also noted that budget cuts may delay the agency's efforts to fully implement the requirements of the data center optimization initiative. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in taking these actions.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure full compliance with SBIR and STTR spending and reporting requirements, the Secretary of Defense and the EPA Administrator should establish procedures to collect and submit obligations data or--through SBA, independently, or through a working group of agencies participating in the SBIR and STTR programs--propose to Congress an alternative methodology for calculating spending requirements for their agencies.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on the draft report, EPA concurred with the recommendation and stated that EPA will work with SBA to develop an alternative methodology for calculating spending requirements. In its August 2017 response to the final report, EPA confirmed its intent to work with SBA to develop an alternative methodology, but did not provide plans to implement the recommendation. We will continue to follow up on the status of this recommendation.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The following 17 agencies (the Secretaries of the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Small Business Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration) should each take action to complete the missing elements in their respective DCOI strategic plan, including addressing any identified challenges, and submit their completed strategic plan to OMB.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency described planned actions to address our recommendation. Specifically, the agency stated that it will update its data center optimization initiative strategic plan to include elements not reflected in the 2016 submission and will complete the plan to the extent feasible. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in taking these actions.
    Recommendation: Finally, the following 11 agencies (the Secretaries of the Departments of Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, and Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, and the U.S. Agency for International Development) should also each take action to ensure that the amounts of achieved data center cost savings and avoidances are consistent across all reporting mechanisms, including the quarterly data submissions and DCOI strategic plans.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency described planned actions to address our recommendation. Specifically, the agency stated that it is working toward consistent reporting on cost savings and avoidances in future reporting submissions and is finalizing a cost analysis methodology to be applied to its data center optimization initiative strategy. The agency further stated that it would ensure consistent use of the process for all reporting queries. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in taking these actions.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of EPA's internal records and the information EPA can communicate to internal and external decision makers, the EPA Administrator should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to direct the Director of the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) to provide clear guidance to EPA staff to help ensure that staff correctly identify all EPA discretionary grant programs in the agency's internal grants management system.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on this report, EPA stated that there are opportunities to explore how to better develop guidance for tracking grants and determine how to make more complete information on discretionary grants publicly available. In June 2017, EPA reported that it intends to be involved in efforts in 2017 to improve the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) descriptions, which may include changes to the CFDA template language to improve clarity of discretionary grant designations. EPA stated that also in 2017 the agency will assess whether other actions are necessary to help staff better identify discretionary grant programs in the agency's internal grants management systems, including training and reconciling any inconsistencies in defining discretionary grants.
    Recommendation: To better enable Congress and other decision makers to monitor EPA's management of discretionary grants, the EPA Administrator should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to direct the Director of OGD to determine how to make more complete information on EPA's discretionary grants publicly available, such as by posting timely and complete reports on its website.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, EPA reported that in 2017 the agency will begin to examine whether and how it can use its new internal Next Generation Grants System to generate more timely and complete reports related to discretionary grants and make them publicly available. EPA also stated that it plans to explore the ability to use the system to (1) generate more timely and complete information that can be publicly posted on the number of applications received and types of entities submitting applications for open competitive opportunities, and (2) produce an annual report on the amount of funds per discretionary grant program and whether such funds were for new awards or amendments.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help the agency make strategic decisions about how to prioritize and efficiently use available personnel, the Administrator, recognizing the agency's limited resources, should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to develop a documented process that can be consistently applied by regional and national program offices to collect and analyze data on project officer FTEs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO in fiscal year 2017, EPA agreed with this recommendation and planned to address the recommendation in two phases. During the first phase, EPA planned to conduct a thorough review of project officer data from the Integrated Grants Management System to provide a basis for further data collection and planned to provide clarity on additional data needed. During the second phase, EPA planned to consider which additional data were needed, collect data, and make these data available for regional and program offices to integrate into the fiscal year 2020 budget development process. EPA expects to complete both phases by March 31, 2018.
    Recommendation: To help the agency make strategic decisions about how to prioritize and efficiently use available personnel, the Administrator, recognizing the agency's limited resources, should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to develop a documented process that can be consistently applied by regional and national program offices to collect and analyze data on grants management workloads.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO in fiscal year 2017, EPA agreed with this recommendation. To address this recommendation, EPA's Office of Grants and Debarment planned to recommend a set of data to collect on a regular and consistent basis. Then, EPA's regional and program offices would review the draft data recommendation and resolve any issues at the agency's 2017 Grants Management Council meeting. EPA anticipated that the grants data collection plan would be fully implemented during fiscal year 2018.
    Recommendation: To help the agency make strategic decisions about how to prioritize and efficiently use available personnel, the Administrator, recognizing the agency's limited resources, should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to develop a documented process that can be consistently applied by regional and national program offices to use project officer FTE and workload data to inform FTE allocations.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a December 2016 letter providing comments on the draft report, EPA agreed with this recommendation and planned to initiate implementation in fiscal year 2017 by developing and issuing a survey tool to collect relevant information on project officer FTE and workload. In correspondence to GAO in fiscal year 2017, EPA planned to incorporate the results of its project officer data collection efforts into the fiscal year 2019 budget development process.
    Recommendation: To enhance EPA's ability to identify performance shortfalls and appropriate corrective actions, the Administrator should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to develop performance measures to track the effectiveness of the recruitment and retention efforts for grant specialists and collect performance data for these measures.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO in fiscal year 2017, EPA agreed with this recommendation. To implement this recommendation, EPA anticipated that its Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) would formalize a process in fiscal year 2017 for collecting information on grant specialists' recruitment and retention. OGD planned to develop draft measures with input from the agency's grants management officers and finalize the measures after review and input from assistant regional administrators. During fiscal year 2018, EPA anticipated that the agency would begin tracking these measures regularly.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve federal agencies' efforts to rationalize their portfolio of applications, the heads of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; and heads of the Environmental Protection Agency; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; National Science Foundation; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Office of Personnel Management; Small Business Administration; Social Security Administration; and U.S. Agency for International Development should direct their Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and other responsible officials to improve their inventories by taking steps to fully address the practices we identified as being partially met or not met.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on a draft of our report, EPA generally agreed with our recommendation. Subsequent to EPA informing us that it has taken action to implement the recommendation, we will follow up.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that CSTAG's information needs are met for update meetings, the EPA Administrator should direct CSTAG to clarify, in its operating procedures, what type of information and documentation, if any, should be prepared by regional offices and provided to CSTAG members in advance of these meetings.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA concurred with our recommendation, stating that it will revise the CSTAG operating procedures to clearly describe the types of information and data that regional offices need to provide before update meetings. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Gregory C. Wilshusen
    Phone: (202) 512-6244

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the role of the senior agency information security officer (SAISO) is defined in agency policy in accordance with FISMA 2014, the Administrator of the Environment Protection Agency should define the SAISO's role in agency policy for ensuring that subordinate security plans are documented for the department's information systems.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concurred with our recommendation. We are currently reviewing the evidence provided by EPA to determine whether the role of the SAISO has been defined in its policy to for ensuring that subordinate security plans are documented for the agency's information systems.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the role of the SAISO is defined in agency policy in accordance with FISMA 2014, the Administrator of the Environment Protection Agency should define the SAISO's role in agency policy for ensuring that plans and procedures are in place to ensure recovery and continued operations of the department's information systems in the event of a disruption.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concurred with our recommendation. We are currently reviewing the evidence provided by EPA to determine whether the role of the SAISO has been defined in its policy to ensure recovery and continued operations of the agency's information systems in the event of a disruption.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the role of the SAISO is defined in agency policy in accordance with FISMA 2014, the Administrator of the Environment Protection Agency should define the SAISO's role in agency policy in the periodic authorization of the department's information systems.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concurred with our recommendation. We are currently reviewing the evidence provided by EPA to determine whether the role of the SAISO has been defined in agency policy for the periodic authorization of the department's information systems.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to incorporate expanded search capability features, such as keyword searches, into its proposed web-based portal for collecting and accessing performance reports to improve their accessibility.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation. EPA also stated that its vision for grants management includes having grant recipients submit performance reports and other information to the agency through a web-based portal. The portal would incorporate capabilities such as key word searches to allow for easier access to performance report information. However, the portal is a long-term initiative, subject to the agency's budget process, and dependent on the completion of the Next Generation Grants System, which EPA expects to fully deploy in fiscal year 2018. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials stated that the agency has not started any work for the centralized grantee portal project, which is subject to available funds.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to identify grant programs where existing program-specific data reporting can meet EPA's performance reporting requirements for grants management purposes to reduce duplicative reporting by grantees.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation and stated it will work with recipient partners to identify where duplicative reporting can be reduced. However, EPA also noted that program-specific data cannot be relied upon to meet all grants management requirements, and performance reports often contain other information that allows project officers to monitor a recipient's progress. Further, EPA will need to consider the feasibility of expanding project officer access to certain program databases to enhance grant performance monitoring. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that the agency is on track to complete the process for identifying where duplicative reporting can be reduced.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, once EPA's new performance system is in place, to ensure that the Office of Water adopts software tools, as appropriate, to electronically transfer relevant data on program results from program-specific databases to EPA's national performance system.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will apply it, where appropriate and cost effective, to program-specific databases, not only the Office of Water databases. EPA noted that not all data from program-specific databases may be appropriate for direct electronic transfer to the national performance system; some individual grant data may need to be analyzed before being rolled up into national data. Additionally, implementation of this recommendation will depend upon the agency's program offices modifying their databases to interface with the new performance system. Further, implementation of this recommendation is dependent upon completion of EPA's new performance system, currently under development. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that continued work on this effort was subject to the availability of funds.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to clarify the factors project officers should consider when determining whether performance reports are consistent with EPA's environmental results directive.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will make conforming changes to the implementation guidance for the Environmental Results Order (directive). During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that they agency is on track to make the necessary changes.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to expand aspects of EPA's policy for certain categorical grants, specifically, the call for an explicit reference to the planned results in grantees' work plans and their projected time frames for completion, to all grants.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will make conforming changes to existing policy. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that this effort will be completed in fiscal year 2018.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to incorporate built-in data quality controls for performance reports into the planned web-based portal based on EPA's environmental results directive.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation. However, EPA emphasized that identifying and deploying appropriate data quality controls is a long-term effort subject to budgetary considerations, completion of the Next Generation Grants System, and extensive collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. Specifically, the report's vision for built-in data quality controls involves the use of electronic templates and reduced reliance on manual data entry--which would require standardized work plan and performance report formats subject to clearance by the Office of Management and Budget. Further, EPA noted that both grant recipients and EPA program offices generally have not supported standardizing the format of work plan and progress reports in the past. Accordingly, as a first step, EPA will seek feedback from the recipient and program office community. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that it plans to complete the first phase of its work within the year.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should include performance goals, performance measures, milestones, planned actions and an agency official responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges as part of EPA's agency performance plan.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its Fiscal Year 2018 APP, EPA took steps to implement this recommendation by clearly identifying its major management challenges and including planned actions for resolving them. Further action is needed to establish performance goals, performance measures, milestones, and identify an agency official responsible for resolving the challenge. When the 2019 annual performance plan is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the Dashboard ratings more accurately reflect risk, the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State, Transportation, the Treasury, Veterans Affairs; the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should direct their CIOs to ensure that their CIO ratings reflect the level of risk facing an investment relative to that investment's ability to accomplish its goals.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency disagreed with the recommendation and has not provided an update on its actions to address the recommendation. We will continue to monitor the implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that good practices are shared within agencies, the Secretaries of Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Interior, Homeland Security, and Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency should develop guidance that encourages local officials to examine purchase card spend patterns to identify opportunities to obtain savings and to share information on such efforts. Where applicable, we further recommend that these agencies determine the feasibility for broader application of these efforts across the agency or organization.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency provided comments indicating its concurrence with this recommendation, noting that it looks forward to opportunities to benchmark with other agencies and share information on approaches taken to identify opportunities which led to positive strategic sourcing outcomes.
    Director: Marcia Crosse
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should revise existing EPA policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories to contain specific requirements for inventory control, or direct the Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs to incorporate this requirement into its policy.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA agreed with this recommendation in its February 2016 comments on the draft report, but maintains that agency, or senior-level policies, exist that include this requirement. EPA officials cited a Microbiology Laboratory Branch standard operating procedure (SOP) as containing inventory control requirements for the agency's one high-containment laboratory. However, in July 2016, EPA officials told us that it disagreed with our assessment that the SOP, as a laboratory-level document, was insufficient to meet our expectations for senior-level policies. In November 2016, EPA officials reiterated its position stating that the SOP had been approved by senior agency management and, as the requirements in it are universally applied by all laboratory staff, appropriately represents an agency-level policy. EPA further noted that the Office of Pesticide Policy, in which the Microbiology Laboratory Branch is located, is a sub-office within EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), an Assistant Administrator-level office. We continue to believe that senior-level policies--in this case, either those policies issued at the EPA level or at the OCSPP/OPP level--that include all of the policy elements we analyzed reflect critical management commitment to and support for a culture of laboratory safety throughout the organization, regardless of the number of agency laboratories.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Administrator of EPA should review and update EPA's outdated policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and establish a regular schedule for reviewing and updating EPA and Office of Pesticide Programs policies.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, EPA reported that the policies and procedures for both the facility that houses its microbiology laboratory and the laboratory itself are reviewed and updated on a bi-yearly or yearly basis consistent with the EPA schedules for biosafety and laboratory plans set in policy. However, EPA did not provide us with the policy that sets the EPA schedules. In addition, our analysis focused on policy documents issued by EPA or its senior-level offices, such as EPA's Safety, Health, and Environmental Management Program manual, dated November 2012. When we analyzed that policy for the report, we were unable to determine whether it was up-to-date because it did not include a review and update schedule or a specific recertification date. As of November, 2016, EPA maintains that this recommendation has been completed, because the office revised the standard operating procedure that provides guidance for establishing the receipt, expiration dates, and disposal of biological inventory used in the laboratory. As of April 2017, we have reached out to EPA for documentation of the actions the agency stated it has taken. Until received, we continue to believe that EPA action on this recommendation is still needed, such as by providing an updated EPA-level safety manual that includes a schedule for reviewing and updating, or providing EPA's schedule set in policy, so long as it also applies to agency- or senior office-level policies.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Administrator of EPA should require routine reporting of the results of department, agency, and select agent laboratory inspections to senior department officials.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA agreed with this recommendation in its February 2016 comments on the draft report. ?In July 2016, EPA reported that its high-containment laboratory will notify senior officials within 3 weeks of any laboratory inspection findings. ?This is a positive step. We are waiting for EPA to provide us with supporting documentation.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, EPA stated in correspondence to GAO that it planned to establish a single data center within each of several specific geographical areas. For each data center selected for retention, the agency stated that it planned to make upgrades to address any potential capacity or performance issues, but noted that the specific plans for each data center slated for consolidation were under development. EPA stated that the resulting total cost savings were under assessment and had not yet been determined. However, as of July 2017, EPA has not updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic plan to include planned cost and savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, the agency stated in correspondence to GAO that it had directed data center stakeholders to place an emphasis on virtualizing physical servers and moving server-based applications to the cloud or a core data center. The agency added that the estimated increase for each optimization metric would be determined after data consolidation plans were finalized. As of July 2017, EPA reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it meets three (energy metering, server virtualization, and power usage efficiency) of the five data center optimization metric targets OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, EPA reports that it does not yet met the remaining two targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, and data center facility space). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should require and collect well-specific data on inspections from state and EPA-managed programs, including when the wells were inspected, the types of inspections conducted, and the results of the inspections in order to track progress toward state and EPA-managed annual inspection goals.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that it is working toward establishing a complete, regularly updated data set. It will work toward expanding the agency's access to well-specific data and will expand the data it has in its national UIC database. And, the agency said that it will continue to work with DOE and the Groundwater Protection Council to develop a national oil and gas gateway for well-specific data. Until such data are made available, we will leave this recommendation as open.
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should complete the aquifer exemption database and establish a way to update it to provide EPA headquarters and regions with sufficient information on aquifer exemptions to oversee state and EPA-managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, EPA published a map of aquifer exemptions online, with the exception of region 9 data. The public dataset shows the data in two dimensions and includes information such as depth of injection, surrounding geology and injectate characteristics. EPA plans to update the database annually. We will keep this recommendation open until EPA completes work on region 9.
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should clarify guidance on what data should be reported on the 7520-4 form to help ensure that the data collected are complete and consistent across state and EPA-managed programs and to provide the information EPA needs to assess whether it must take enforcement actions.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that it is working toward establishing a complete, regularly updated data set. It will work toward expanding the agency's access to well-specific data and will expand the data it has in its national UIC database. And, the agency said that it will continue to work with DOE and the Groundwater Protection Council to develop a national oil and gas gateway for well-specific data. Until such data are made available, we will leave this recommendation open.
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should conduct a workforce analysis to identify the human capital and other resources EPA needs to carry out its oversight of state and EPA-managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA disagreed and said that the best approach is to expand its evaluation of agency oversight to include elements of inspection and enforcement. Once the evaluation is complete, EPA will consider its oversight of state programs. We will keep this recommendation open until EPA completes its review and determines what it will do with its oversight.
    Director: Steve D. Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that EPA is reducing the risk of unreasonable harm to important pollinators, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Pesticide Programs to develop a plan for obtaining data from pesticide registrants on the effects of pesticides on nonhoney bee species, including other managed or wild, native bees.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, the agency had taken actions relevant to the recommendation but had not fully developed a plan to obtain data from pesticide registrants on the effects of pesticides on non-honey bee species. According to EPA, until suitable test methods have been developed, the agency has continued to rely on honey bees as a surrogate for the broader range of bee species that include both solitary and social non-honey bees. The agency continues to track the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD's) efforts to develop suitable test methods to evaluate the effects of pesticides on non-honey bees. EPA provided comments to the OECD on the acute oral and acute contact toxicity test guidelines developed for bumble bees, which are social non-honey bee managed bees; these test methods were recently finalized by OECD as formal test guidelines. Also, EPA staff serve as members of the International Commission on Plant-Pollinator Relationship (ICP-PR), for which a non-honey bee workgroup has been developing acute and chronic toxicity test methods for other managed non-honey bees, including the solitary mason bee. EPA researchers in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (within the Office of Research and Development) are developing methods for measuring effects of pesticides on bumble bee colonies through the use of micro-colonies, and will be participating in field studies over the next two years to determine the effectiveness of these methods in evaluating impacts to bumble bees from the use of pesticides used in horticulture. According to the agency, once sufficient data are available, EPA will be in a better position to determine the extent to which honey bees serve as reasonable surrogates for estimating the sensitivity of non-honey bees to pesticides. According to agency officials, EPA included the recent OECD acute contact and acute oral toxicity tests with bumble bees with the suite of laboratory and semi-field studies in a rulemaking effort that would codify these tests as formal data requirements for registrants. EPA had planned to solicit public comment on the proposed bumble bee testing requirements; however, the rulemaking effort has been delayed until the regulatory burden of the rule can be more thoroughly evaluated. According to agency officials, in January 2017, EPA hosted an international workshop on non-honey bees to evaluate the extent to which the primary routes of exposure for honey bees (i.e., contact and ingestion of residues in pollen/nectar) are protective and serve as suitable surrogates for evaluating exposure of non-honey bees to pesticides. Workshop participants discussed data needed to evaluate exposure for solitary and social non-honey bees. The proceedings of this workshop will be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and will inform EPA's understanding of whether additional routes of exposure need to be considered as part of EPA's risk assessment framework for pollinators. While these are positive developments, they do not constitute full implementation of the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help comply with the directive in the White House Pollinator Health Task Force's strategy, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Pesticide Programs to identify the pesticide tank mixtures that farmers and pesticide applicators most commonly use on agricultural crops to help determine whether those mixtures pose greater risks than the sum of the risks posed by the individual pesticides.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA had taken actions relevant to this recommendation but had not fully implemented it. According to EPA, during February and March 2017, the Office of Pesticide Programs continued its efforts to monitor residues in honey bee colonies providing pollination services in almond orchards. In April 2017, EPA requested that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation provide Pesticide Use Reporting data, including specific formulation and quantities applied to specific sites on specific dates during almond bloom. EPA has also reached out to the Almond Board, as well as to beekeepers and almond growers, to request information on the most common tank mixes applied during almond bloom. Although EPA has previously requested Pesticide Use Reporting data from California and the state has provided preliminary data, the information was not sufficiently detailed to extract actual formulations applied on specific dates to specific areas within the almond growing region of California. The combination of information requested from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Almond Board is expected to provide data to evaluate and identify commonly used pesticide tank mixes applied during almond pollination as a case study. According to EPA officials, data from California indicate that the use of tank mixtures in almond orchards decreased by roughly 60 percent from 2014 through 2016, suggesting that best management practices recommended by the Almond Board may be having a positive effect on almond grower practices with respect to tank mixtures. While these are positive developments, they do not yet fully implement the recommendation. It is not yet clear that EPA has used information on the identity of the most common tank mixtures to determine whether they pose greater risks than the sum of the risks posed by the individual pesticides. In addition, it is not yet clear that EPA has identified tank mixtures commonly used on crops other than almonds.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: As EPA and USDA continue to consider ways to track and promote water utilities' implementation of asset management, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water and Office of Wastewater Management to continue to include questions on water utilities' use of asset management in the clean water needs assessment and consider including questions about water utilities' use of asset management in future drinking water infrastructure needs assessment surveys.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 2017, EPA has convened a workgroup of 40 people representing states, technical advisers, EPA, and USDA. It will develop new asset management outreach tools directed towards local decision makers. The group will meet quarterly and plans to issue tools and resources by fall 2017.
    Recommendation: As EPA and USDA continue to consider ways to track and promote water utilities' implementation of asset management, the Administrator of EPA, and the Secretary of USDA, through the Rural Development Agency, should consider compiling into one document the existing cases and examples of the benefits and costs of asset management and widely share this information with water utilities.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, EPA had convened a workgroup of 40 people representing states, technical advisers, EPA, and USDA. It will develop new asset management outreach tools directed towards local decision makers. The group will meet quarterly and plans to issue a best practices document by April 2017 and a webinar by May 2017.
    Director: Gregory C. Wilshusen
    Phone: (202) 512-6244

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better monitor and provide a basis for improving the effectiveness of cybersecurity risk mitigation activities, informed by the sectors' updated plans and in collaboration with sector stakeholders, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should direct responsible officials to develop performance metrics to provide data and determine how to overcome challenges to monitoring the water and wastewater systems sector's cybersecurity progress.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The 2015 water and wastewater sector-specific plan includes a segment on measuring the effectiveness of sector activities that describes the overall principles for collecting data and using the National Annual Report data calls as a tool for assessing performance and reporting on progress within the sector. However, the plan does not state specific measures and the agency acknowledged in its response to our report that it does not collect performance metrics on the effectiveness of its cybersecurity programs for the sector. According to agency officials, the development of performance metrics in collaboration with sector partners is underway. We will continue to follow up to identify any specific metrics developed and implemented and resulting outcome-based reports.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the agency's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should direct the CIO to ensure that the agency's integrated data collection submission to OMB includes, for all reported initiatives, complete plans to reinvest any resulting cost savings and avoidances from OMB-directed IT reform-related efforts.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency agreed with our recommendation, but has not yet taken steps to implement it. Specifically, as of May 2017, the agency's integrated data collection submission did not include reinvestment plans for all of the reported cost savings and avoidance initiatives. For example, the agency reported about $3 million in cost savings and avoidances related to two shared services initiatives, but did not provide information regarding how it plans to reinvest these savings and avoidances. We will continue to evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD to develop a timetable with milestones and identify and allocate resources for adopting electronic records management for all 10 regional offices.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA officials, the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) established an agency-wide electronic grants record workgroup in fiscal year 2016. The workgroup identified the contents of the electronic grant file, technical options, and evaluation criteria. OGD completed its alternatives analysis for scope, general approach, and requirements in fiscal year 2017. As of May 2017, the next phase of work is on hold, subject to available funds and prioritization of work.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD to implement plans for adopting an up-to-date and comprehensive IT system by 2017 that will provide accurate and timely data on agencywide compliance with grants management directives.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: Implementation efforts are ongoing. According to EPA officials, OGD is conducting a multi-modular project to upgrade the agency's grants management IT system. As of May 2017, the final module is on schedule for deployment in fiscal year 2018. OGD will incorporate performance tracking of priority directives in accordance with the policy framework of the new grants management plan.
    Recommendation: Until the new IT system is implemented, the EPA Administrator should direct OGD to develop ways to more effectively use existing web-based tools to better monitor agencywide compliance with grants management directives.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: Implementation efforts are ongoing. According to EPA officials, OGD has developed the capability to provide managers cumulative annual baseline monitoring data. Further capabilities of web-based tools, namely the replacement of OGD's primary tool Quik Reports, was scheduled for deployment in fiscal year 2017. This effort, combined with updates to the Grants Datamart, will provide long-term enhancements for EPA's grant reporting needs. As of May 2017, the modernization of supported tools and web applications continues. EPA officials also said that extending centralized grant data to other internal systems is improving the continuity of data.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's review and oversight of the SRF program, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Water to update the financial indicators guidance to include one or more of EPA's financial measures for identifying the growth of states' SRF funds.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of April 2017, EPA is finalizing changes to its financial indicators to help identify the growth of states' SRF funds, according to EPA officials. EPA officials told us it had established a joint EPA/state workgroup that proposed draft financial indicators for the State Revolving Funds (SRF). These draft indicators are intended to address financial sustainability and the extent to which funds are being used efficiently. EPA plans to issue a memorandum to finalize these updated indicators in the summer of 2017. GAO will review EPA's memorandum when it is issued to determine if the recommendation can be closed.
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's review and oversight of the SRF program, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Water to use information on SRF funds' past performance to develop projections of SRF programs by forecasting future lending capacity during regional office reviews of states' SRF programs using factors such as future interest earnings and inflation rates.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, EPA is finalizing its tools and guidance to regional offices to forecast states' future lending capacity, according to EPA officials. EPA officials told us that it had enhanced its State Revolving Fund (SRF) Financial Planning Model to align future loan projections with target cash balances. EPA's Office of Water will work with EPA regional offices to use the updated SRF Financial Planning Model for SRF forecasts that will support annual regional reviews of state SRF programs. EPA will update its guidance to EPA regional offices to use these forecasts in their reviews of the state SRF programs beginning in 2017 or early 2018. GAO will review EPA's guidance when it is finalized to determine if this recommendation can be closed.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure compliance with ERDDAA when handling congressional requests for scientific advice from EPA's SAB, the EPA Administrator should document procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests to determine which questions should be taken up by the SAB and criteria for evaluating such requests.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, EPA finalized procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests for advice from the Science Advisory Board (SAB). According to EPA officials, the agency will also make modifications to the SAB charter to be consistent with the process. When the charter is updated, we will review it to determine whether clarifying language included meets the intent of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure compliance with ERDDAA when handling congressional requests for scientific advice from EPA's SAB, the EPA Administrator should clarify in policy documents when it is and when it is not appropriate for the EPA Administrator to forward advice to the requesting committee.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, EPA finalized procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests for advice from the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to determine which questions should be taken up by the SAB. These procedures, however, do not ensure compliance with ERDDAA because they fail to recognize that under ERDDAA, the SAB is required to provide requested scientific advice to select committees. The procedures lay out a process and criteria for reviewing congressional requests for SAB advice which include: 1) the scope of EPA's legal authorities; 2) whether the requested advice is related to the science and technical aspect of the environmental issue, rather than a question of public policy; and 3) EPA priorities and strategic plan. The relevant criterion for determining whether the SAB should take up a question, however, is whether it is scientific in nature. The other criteria may be relevant to EPA's prioritization of requests to the SAB in light of the SAB's limited resources.
    Director: Carol R. Cha
    Phone: (202) 512-4456

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help the agency effectively manage spending on mobile devices and services, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should ensure a complete inventory of mobile devices and associated services is established.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency had taken steps to implement this recommendation. Specifically, it reported that it had conducted a management review and identified improvements to ensure that the agency has a complete inventory of mobile devices and services. However, as of August 2017, it had not demonstrated that it had established a complete inventory. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress.
    Recommendation: To help the agency effectively manage spending on mobile devices and services, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should ensure procedures to monitor and control spending are established agency-wide. Specifically, ensure that (1) procedures include assessing devices for zero, under, and over usage; (2) personnel with authority and responsibility for performing the procedures are identified; and (3) the specific steps to be taken to perform the process are documented.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency has not yet implemented this recommendation. The agency stated that program offices receive quarterly mobile device usage reports and are requested to review them. However, as of August 2017, the agency had not provided documented procedures that address the elements of our recommendation.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help resolve disagreements between EPA and USDA and Interior regarding which remaining docket sites require preliminary assessments, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse to review available information on USDA and Interior sites where EPA's Superfund Enterprise Management System indicates that a preliminary assessment has not occurred to determine the accuracy of this information, and update the information, as needed.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, EPA Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office (FFRRO) generated a spreadsheet with information from EPA's Superfund Enterprise Management System showing the status of USDA and Interior sites on the docket. In January 2016 FFRRO sent letters to USDA and Interior which included information from the spreadsheet showing the status of each department's sites and requested that the departments work with EPA to determine the accuracy of the data. In addition, the departments were to--for those sites where EPA believed that a preliminary assessment was needed--provide a schedule for completion of the sites. In a June 2016 letter to EPA, USDA responded that with help from EPA regions they were able to substantially reconcile the list, complete preliminary assessments or their equivalent, and provide a status to EPA on its 251 sites. In an October 2016 letter to EPA, Interior responded that 79 sites have one or more areas of uncertainty regarding their status within the Federal Facilities Docket system. Interior stated that it had developed a work plan for obtaining additional information on the sites, which is scheduled for completion in March 2018. We will continue to monitor EPA's and Interior's progress to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help resolve disagreements between EPA and USDA and Interior regarding which remaining docket sites require preliminary assessments, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse to work with the relevant USDA and Interior offices to obtain any additional information needed to assist EPA in determining the accuracy of the agency's data on the status of preliminary assessments for these sites.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA officials and documents, in response to this recommendation, EPA's Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office (FFRRO) has been meeting quarterly with USDA and Interior to discuss, among other issues, any additional information needed to assist EPA in determining the accuracy of the agency's data on the status of preliminary assessments for these sites. According to a June 2016 letter USDA sent to EPA, preliminary assessments or their equivalent have been completed for its 251 sites. Interior informed EPA in an October 2016 letter that it has developed a plan--scheduled for completion in March 2018--for obtaining additional information on the sites. After the updated list of sites is developed, Interior plans to work with EPA to determine the final steps necessary to complete a preliminary assessment for each site. We will continue to monitor EPA's and Interior's progress to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help resolve disagreements between EPA and USDA and Interior regarding which remaining docket sites require preliminary assessments, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse to, after completing this review, inform USDA and Interior whether the requirement to conduct a preliminary assessment at the identified sites has been met or if additional work is needed to meet this requirement

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA officials and documents, in response to this recommendation, EPA's Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office (FFRRO) has been meeting quarterly with USDA and Interior to discuss, among other issues, whether the requirement to conduct a preliminary assessment at the identified sites has been met or if additional work is needed to meet this requirement. According to a June 2016 letter USDA sent to EPA, preliminary assessments or their equivalent have been completed for its 251 sites. Interior informed EPA in an October 2016 letter that it has developed a plan--scheduled for completion in March 2018--for obtaining additional information on the sites. After the updated list of sites is developed, Interior plans to work with EPA to determine the final steps necessary to complete a preliminary assessment for each site. We will continue to monitor EPA's and Interior's progress to address this recommendation.
    Director: Gregory C. Wilshusen
    Phone: (202) 512-6244

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the privacy and security controls of contractor-operated systems are being properly overseen, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for ensuring that, for each contractor-operated system, a system test is fully executed.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA concurred with our recommendation. However, EPA has not yet provided evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We plan to validate the department's actions when EPA informs us that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the privacy and security controls of contractor-operated systems are being properly overseen, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for ensuring that, for each contractor-operated system, plans of action and milestones with estimated completion dates and resources assigned for resolution are maintained.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA concurred with our recommendation. However, EPA has not yet provided evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We plan to validate the department's actions when EPA informs us that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gomez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve future adherence to OMB guidance for conducting RIAs, the EPA Administrator should enhance the agency's review process for RIAs to ensure the transparency and clarity of information presented for selected elements in and across RIAs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, EPA reported that it is committing to have its National Center for Environmental Economics in the Office of Policy review regulatory impact analyses (RIAs) for economically significant rules and provide a written review prior to their submission to OMB, indicating progress toward implementing this recommendation. GAO is keeping this recommendation open until seeing how EPA implements this commitment, including any written documentation or guidance to support this process and the type of criteria the agency plans to use for these reviews to ensure the transparency and clarity of information presented for selected elements in and across EPA's RIAs.
    Recommendation: In addition, to enhance the usefulness of EPA's RIAs, the EPA Administrator should identify and prioritize for research key categories of benefits and costs that the agency cannot currently monetize that, once monetized, would most enhance the agency's ability to consider economic trade-offs associated with different regulatory alternatives.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA said that it continues to make progress in the spirit of this recommendation, including its consideration of the Science Advisory Board's (SAB) April 2017 draft report and research recommendations regarding the use of economy-wide modeling in benefit-cost analysis for environmental regulations. GAO is keeping this recommendation open until it is clearer how EPA is using the SAB's work to develop its regulatory impact analyses.
    Recommendation: In addition, to enhance the usefulness of EPA's RIAs, the EPA Administrator should continue efforts to update and improve the agency's approach to estimating employment effects.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA reported that it continues to make progress in the spirit of this recommendation, with plans to implement a three-part program dealing with employment impacts. EPA also plans to review its Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analysis to expand and update the discussion of how to consider employment effects in RIAs. GAO is keeping this recommendation open until seeing the outcome of these planned efforts.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, and to support nationwide reporting goals until the national UIC database is complete, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should (1) improve the 7520 data for reporting purposes, as well as to help with quality assurance for the national UIC database, by developing and implementing a protocol for states and regions to enter data consistently and for regions to check 7520 data for consistency and completeness to ensure that data collected from state and EPA-managed class II programs are complete and comparable for purposes of reporting at a national level, and (2) in the interim, develop a method to use the 7520 database to report UIC data, including data on class II wells, until the national UIC database is fully populated with state data.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that its 7520 database is current as of 2014 and the quality assurance process has been completed. It is developing a method to use the database to report aggregated national data on the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, and to ensure that EPA maintains enforcement authority of state program requirements, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should (1) conduct a rulemaking to incorporate state program requirements, and changes to state program requirements, into federal regulations, and (2) at the same time, evaluate and consider alternative processes to more efficiently incorporate future changes to state program requirements into federal regulations without a rulemaking.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA agrees with GAO's analysis that state program requirements and changes should be approved and codified in federal regulations. However, EPA does not agree with GAO's recommendation to conduct one comprehensive rulemaking to achieve this. In November 2016, EPA officials said they will continue to explore alternative methods for maintaining federal enforceability under the current statutory provisions; it plans to finish its efforts in January 2017. GAO will continue to monitor this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should evaluate and revise, as needed, UIC program guidance on effective oversight to identify essential activities that EPA headquarters and regions need to conduct to effectively oversee state and EPA managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA stated that it has developed a national framework for oversight of the UIC program and to transfer knowledge to new staff. EPA said that it will continue to evaluate whether to update its guidance. We are continuing to monitor EPA's progress on this recommendation.
    Director: Carol R. Cha
    Phone: (202) 512-4456

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Adminitrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should develop an agency-wide comprehensive policy for the management of software licenses that addresses the weaknesses we identified.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, Environment Protection Agency (EPA) reported that it is currently taking steps to develop a comprehensive policy that will address a centralized management program of licenses, an analysis to inform decision making, education and training goals and overall management throughout the lifecycle. In addition, EPA stated that it is still leveraging the efforts of the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation project as well as its Office of Acquisition Management's consolidation of its Microsoft suite. We will follow up with the agency to obtain supporting documents and continue to monitor its progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Adminitrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should employ a centralized software license management approach that is coordinated and integrated with key personnel for the majority of agency software license spending and/or enterprise-wide licenses.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) reported that it is currently taking steps to develop a comprehensive policy that will address a centralized management program of licenses. In addition, EPA stated that it is still leveraging the efforts of the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation project as well as leveraging its Office of Acquisition Management's consolidation of enterprise licenses. We will follow up with the agency to obtain supporting documents and continue to monitor its progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Adminitrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should establish a comprehensive inventory of software licenses using automated tools for the majority of agency software license spending and/or enterprise-wide licenses.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, EPA reported that it is currently leveraging its Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program for a comprehensive software license inventory. EPA also reported that this comprehensive inventory will be provided via an automated dashboard. We will follow up with the agency to obtain supporting documents and continue to monitor its progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Adminitrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should regularly track and maintain a comprehensive inventory of software licenses using automated tools and metrics.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) reported that it is currently leveraging its Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program for an automated tool that will establish a comprehensive software license inventory. EPA We will follow up with the agency to obtain supporting documents and continue to monitor its progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Adminitrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should analyze agency-wide software license data, such as costs, benefits, usage, and trending data, to identify opportunities to reduce costs and better inform investment decision making.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, the Environment Protection Agency reported that it is currently leveraging its Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program for a comprehensive software license inventory. that will be available by the second quarter of fiscal year 2017. EPA also stated that it has consolidated six of the agency's eight major software license contracts. In addition, EPA reported that it is currently conducting an analysis of licenses and maintenance with regards to category management to determine the current spend environment and visibility within the agency to develop strategies for addressing each platform. We will follow up with the agency to obtain supporting documentation and continue to monitor its progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Adminitrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should provide software license management training to appropriate agency personnel addressing contract terms and conditions, negotiations, laws and regulations, acquisition, security planning, and configuration management.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) reported that it is working to develop a robust training curriculum that addresses all software license requirements including but not limited to negotiations, laws and regulations, and contract terms and conditions department wide. We will follow up with the agency to obtain supporting documents and continue to monitor its progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Brown Barnes, Cindy S
    Phone: (202) 512-9345

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen federal oversight of facilities with ammonium nitrate, the Secretary of Labor and the Administrator of EPA should direct OSHA and EPA, respectively, to consider revising their related regulations to cover ammonium nitrate and jointly develop a plan to require high risk facilities with ammonium nitrate to assess the risks and implement safeguards to prevent accidents involving this chemical.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, EPA issued a final rule to modify its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations. The agency decided not to propose any revisions to the list of regulated substances and therefore, did not address ammonium nitrate in the revised regulations. In a June 2016 update from EPA, EPA stated that OSHA is considering whether ammonium nitrate should be added to the list of chemicals subject to OSHA Process Safety Management regulations. According to the June 2016 update, EPA stated that while the agency is not presently proposing that ammonium nitrate be added to the list of substances subject to the RMP rule, the agency may elect to propose such a listing at a later date.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the OECA GLP inspection process, the EPA Administrator should assess the authority and need for a fee-based inspection system, and if such a system is warranted, establish a user fee system, seeking additional legislative authority, if necessary, to make the laboratory inspection program self-sustaining.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, EPA officials told GAO that OECA was working with OPP and its Office of General Counsel to figure out the best mechanism for potentially accomplishing this. As of July 2017, EPA had not provided any additional information on the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the likelihood that TMDLs support the nation's waters' attainment of water quality standards and to strengthen water quality management, the Administrator of EPA should develop and issue new regulations requiring that TMDLs include additional elements--and consider requiring the elements that are now optional--specifically, elements reflecting key features identified by NRC as necessary for attaining water quality standards, such as comprehensive identification of impairment and plans to monitor water bodies to verify that water quality is improving.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA officials stated that they agree that broad implementation and monitoring requirements would be helpful, but disagree that they should issue regulations. Officials stated that they continue to follow the state Water Quality Management Plan requirement related to GAO's recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance the likelihood that TMDLs support the nation's waters' attainment of water quality standards and to strengthen water quality management, the Administrator of EPA should ensure more consistent application of existing TMDL elements and to provide greater assurance that TMDLs, if implemented, can achieve tangible water quality results, identify regional offices with criteria for interpreting and applying such elements in reviewing and approving state-developed TMDLs and issue guidance with more specificity, directing all regional offices to follow the same criteria, including requesting that states provide more-detailed information about pollution causes and abatement actions.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA officials said they had created a small workgroup to assess this recommendation. The group is continuing discussions about how to enhance consistent regional review. We will continue to monitor EPA's progress.
    Recommendation: To enhance the likelihood that TMDLs support the nation's waters' attainment of water quality standards and to strengthen water quality management, the Administrator of EPA should place conditions on states' annual use of nonpoint source management and water pollution control grants to ensure that the funds meet the purposes for which they are awarded and achieve greater reductions in nonpoint source pollution associated with TMDL implementation, such as by targeting funds to states and projects that incorporate factors needed for effective TMDL implementation (e.g., targeting grant funds to projects where implementation plans have been developed and where external agency assistance is available).

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA officials said that they believe the 2013 nonpoint source guidance substantially addresses this recommendation. Specifically, in April 2013, EPA issued revised guidance for awarding section 319 grants to states to implement nonpoint source management programs and projects. The guidance updates previous guidance to EPA regional offices and states in four key areas: (1) state nonpoint source management program plans, (2) funding distribution, (3) reviews of states' watershed-based plans, and (4) regional offices' annual progress determinations. While this encourages states to target nonpoint source funding to watersheds with TMDLs, it does not incentivize it with funding. EPA continues to discuss approaches to address this recommendation. GAO will continue to monitor the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance the likelihood that TMDLs support the nation's waters' attainment of water quality standards and to strengthen water quality management, the Administrator of EPA should obtain missing data that currently impede EPA's efforts to determine whether and to what extent TMDLs have been implemented or to what extent implemented TMDLs have helped impaired waters attain water quality standards by (1) directing states to use and report specific Geographic Information Systems data when implementing projects to which TMDLs apply and (2) requesting that USDA ask landowners who participate in conservation programs funded by the department in areas subject to a TMDL to disclose information on the location, type, and number of projects implemented under these programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA officials said that they have created the Water Quality Framework to align and integrate the variety of water quality data in different systems. The first phase focuses on improvements to ATTAINS, the TMDL tracking system, to report on the status of healthy waters and restoring and improving impaired waters. EPA officials said that they have transitioned to the use of NHDPlus catchments to report on performance measures, allowing EPA to automate the calculation of data. In addition, in June 2016, EPA requested USDA to provide data on the location, type, and number of projects implemented by USDA programs. USDA has not provided the data. We will continue to monitor EPA's progress.
    Director: Powner, David A
    Phone: (202)512-9286

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the agency's implementation of PortfolioStat, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should direct the CIO to develop a complete commodity IT baseline.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that it uses OMB's quarterly integrated data collection submission process to continually update the information in its baseline. We are following up with the agency to determine whether it has any process to ensure the completeness of the information that is submitted.
    Recommendation: To improve the agency's implementation of PortfolioStat, in future reporting to OMB, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should direct the CIO to fully describe the following PortfolioStat action plan elements: (1) consolidate commodity IT spending under the agency CIO; (2) establish targets for commodity IT spending reductions and deadlines for meeting those targets; and (3) establish criteria for identifying wasteful, low-value, or duplicative investments.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency stated that, in its August 2014 PortfolioStat update, it had reported to OMB on the status of actions to consolidate commodity IT spending under the agency CIO and to establish targets for commodity IT spending reductions. The agency also stated that it was working to develop criteria for identifying wasteful, low-value, and duplicative investments. We are reviewing the August 2014 PortfolioStat update to verify the agency's claims. We plan to also follow up on efforts to develop the aforementioned criteria and any associated reporting to OMB.
    Recommendation: To improve the agency's implementation of PortfolioStat, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should direct the CIO to report on the agency's progress in consolidating the managed print services and strategic sourcing of end user computing to shared services as part of the OMB integrated data collection quarterly reporting until completed.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its March 2014 statement of actions to address our recommendations, the Environmental Protection Agency stated that it expected its print services to take on additional devices and locations beginning in April 2014 and that a contract vehicle for the purchasing and leasing of end user computing equipment was expected to be awarded by the end of the month. We are reviewing the agency's quarterly reporting to OMB to determine whether progress on the two initiatives was reported to OMB as we recommended.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address challenges the Task Force faces in producing comprehensive and useful assessments of progress and addressing factors that may limit GLRI progress, the EPA Administrator, in coordination with the Task Force, as appropriate, should establish an adaptive management plan that includes all of the key elements of adaptive management and provides details on how these elements will be implemented.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, EPA notified GAO that the final GLRI adaptive management report is due to be released in December 2017. We will review the report after it becomes available.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's management of the conditional registration process, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs to complete plans to automate data related to conditional registrations to more readily track the status of these registrations and related registrant and agency actions and identify potential problems requiring management attention.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA reported that until upgrades to OPP's database architecture are complete in the FY 18 timeframe, the agency cannot complete plans to automate data related to conditional registrations. The agency informed us that plans are currently underway to improve the functionality and accuracy of OPP databases, including the tracking of information on conditional registration. However, until this work is complete, the recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA maximizes its limited resources and addresses the statutory, regulatory, and programmatic needs of EPA program offices and regions when IRIS toxicity assessments are not available, and once demand for the IRIS Program is determined, the EPA Administrator should direct the Deputy Administrator, in coordination with EPA's Science Advisor, to develop an agencywide strategy to address the unmet needs of EPA program offices and regions that includes, at a minimum: (1) coordination across EPA offices and with other federal research agencies to help identify and fill data gaps that preclude the agency from conducting IRIS toxicity assessments, and (2) guidance that describes alternative sources of toxicity information and when it would be appropriate to use them when IRIS values are not available, applicable, or current.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of August 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials stated that IRIS assessments that support policy and regulatory decisions for EPA's programs and regions, and state agencies, are being consolidated into a new portfolio to optimize the application of best available science and technology. According to IRIS Program officials, the new portfolio is being shaped for use by many EPA program and regional offices, states, and other federal agencies. IRIS Program officials told us that they expect these changes to significantly increase the number of completed assessments. GAO will update this recommendation after receiving documentation that elaborates on the new portfolio, or other efforts, that strengthen coordination across EPA offices and with other federal research agencies to help identify and fill data gaps, and describe alternative sources of information, consistent with the intent of the original recommendation.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To better position EPA to collect chemical toxicity and exposure-related data and ensure chemical safety under existing TSCA authority, while balancing its workload, the Administrator of EPA should consider promulgating a rule under TSCA section 8, or take action under another section, as appropriate, to require chemical companies to report chemical toxicity and exposure-related data they have submitted to the European Chemicals Agency.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of July 2017, EPA is better positioned to take action to require chemical companies to report chemical toxicity and exposure-related data submitted to the European Chemicals Agency due to passage of the new TSCA law, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Since the law was signed by the President on June 22, 2016, EPA finalized a rule to establish the agency's process for evaluating high priority chemicals to determine whether or not they present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment and finalized a rule to require industry reporting of chemicals manufactured or processed in the US over the past 10 years. However, EPA has not yet carried out actions consistent with the substance of our recommendation. Once EPA has carried out such actions, we will reassess the status of this open recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better position EPA to collect chemical toxicity and exposure-related data and ensure chemical safety under existing TSCA authority, while balancing its workload, the Administrator of EPA should consider promulgating a rule under TSCA section 8, or take action under another section, as appropriate, to require chemical companies to report exposure-related data from processors to EPA.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of July 2017, EPA is better positioned to take action to require chemical companies to report exposure-related data from processors to EPA due to passage of the new TSCA law, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Since the law was signed by the President on June 22, 2016, EPA has completed some implementation activities, including finalizing a rule to require industry reporting of chemicals manufactured or processed in the US over the past 10 years. However, EPA has not yet carried out actions consistent with the substance of our open recommendation. Once EPA has carried out such actions, we will reassess the status of this open recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better position EPA to collect chemical toxicity and exposure-related data and ensure chemical safety under existing TSCA authority, while balancing its workload, and to better position EPA to ensure chemical safety under existing TSCA authority, the Administrator of EPA should direct the appropriate offices to develop strategies for addressing challenges that impede the agency's ability to meet its goal of ensuring chemical safety. At a minimum, the strategies should address challenges associated with: (1) obtaining toxicity and exposure data needed to conduct ongoing and future TSCA Work Plan risk assessments, (2) gaining access to toxicity and exposure data provided to the European Chemicals Agency, (3) working with processors and processor associations to obtain exposure-related data, (4) banning or limiting the use of chemicals under section 6 of TSCA and planned actions for overcoming these challenges--including a description of other actions the agency plans to pursue in lieu of banning or limiting the use of chemicals, and (5) identifying the resources needed to conduct risk assessments and implement risk management decisions in order to meet its goal of ensuring chemical safety.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of July 2017, EPA is better positioned to take action to require chemical companies to report chemical toxicity and exposure data, analyze the data, take necessary actions, and identify the resources needed for evaluating and managing risk to ensure chemical safety due to passage of the new TSCA law, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Since the new law was signed by the President on June 22, 2016, EPA finalized a rule to establish the agency's process for evaluating high priority chemicals to determine whether or not they present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment and finalized a rule to require industry reporting of chemicals manufactured or processed in the U.S. over the past 10 years. However, EPA has not yet carried out actions consistent with the substance of our recommendation, including actually obtaining the data necessary to make risk-informed regulatory decisions, and then making those decisions as appropriate. Once EPA has carried out such actions, we will reassess the status of this open recommendation.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can address atmospheric deposition of NOx and SO2 impairing the nation's waters, the EPA Administrator should determine whether EPA can obtain in a timely manner the data it needs to establish secondary NAAQS adequate to protect against the effects of acid rain and, if not, identify alternative strategies to do so.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA issued the final "Integrated Review Plan for the Secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Oxides of Nitrogen and Oxides of Sulfur and Particulate Mater" in January 2017. According to this plan, it serves as a public information document and as a management tool for EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment and Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards in conducting the review of the secondary national ambient air quality standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and oxides of sulfur (SOx). This plan describes the development of the Integrated Science Assessment (ISA). According to the plan, the ISA is a comprehensive review, synthesis and evaluation of the most policy-relevant science, including key science judgments. As of January 2017, EPA estimates that the first draft ISA will be available for public review in winter 2017. GAO may be able to use the ISA to determine if EPA has implemented the recommendation.
    Director: Cha, Carol
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance federal agencies' ability to realize enterprise architecture benefits, the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, the Air Force, the Army, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, the Interior, Labor, the Navy, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Small Business Administration; the Commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Social Security Administration; and the Directors of the National Science Foundation and the Office of Personnel Management should fully establish an approach for measuring enterprise architecture outcomes, including a documented method (i.e., steps to be followed) and metrics that are measurable, meaningful, repeatable, consistent, actionable, and aligned with the agency's enterprise architecture's strategic goals and intended purpose.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency had not implemented this recommendation and did not have a specific plan to do so. In March 2014, the agency submitted its Enterprise Roadmap to the Office of Management and Budget, which included metrics associated with potential outcomes related to its enterprise architecture efforts, such as cost savings gained from consolidating and sharing services. However, the agency had not established steps to be followed for measuring architecture outcomes. More recently, according to its May 2015 Enterprise Roadmap, the agency no longer planned to measure architecture-related outcomes. We will continue to monitor the agency's efforts to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance federal agencies' ability to realize enterprise architecture benefits, the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, the Air Force, the Army, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, the Interior, Labor, the Navy, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Small Business Administration; the Commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Social Security Administration; and the Directors of the National Science Foundation and the Office of Personnel Management should periodically measure and report enterprise architecture outcomes and benefits to top agency officials (i.e., executives with authority to commit resources or make changes to the program) and to OMB.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency has not implemented this recommendation. In March 2014, the agency submitted to the Office of Management and Budget its Enterprise Roadmap, which identified outcomes associated with its enterprise architecture efforts. For example, the agency reported cost savings achieved in fiscal year 2013 related to consolidating and sharing services. However, the agency did not demonstrate that it reliably measured the outcome (i.e., it did not provide supporting documentation). More recently, according to its May 2015 Enterprise Roadmap, the agency no longer planned to measure architecture-related outcomes. As of August 2017, the agency had not demonstrated that it had taken additional actions to address this recommendation. Nonetheless, we continue to believe that it is important that the agency measure the value of its enterprise architecture and will monitor its efforts to implement the recommendation.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To help protect the quality of our nation's water resources, and to strengthen EPA's implementation of its responsibilities under the Clean Water Act's section 319 nonpoint source pollution control program, the Administrator of EPA should provide specific guidance to EPA's 10 regional offices on how they are to fulfill their oversight responsibilities, such as how to review states' plans for project feasibility and criteria to ensure that funded projects have characteristics that reflect the greatest likelihood of effective implementation and tangible water quality results.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In April 2013, EPA issued new guidance "Nonpoint Source Program and Grants Guidelines for States and Territories" for the nonpoint source program. The guidance includes a checklist that aligns with the intent of our recommendation to provide additional guidance to regional offices. In July 2016, we issued an update of EPA's progress on our recommendations. In it, we conclude that EPA's 2013 guidance does not provide specific instruction to the regional offices on how to review states' plans for project feasibility and criteria to ensure that funded projects have characteristics reflecting the greatest likelihood of tangible water quality results, as we recommended. In January 2017, EPA said that it looked broadly at ways to improve the program and remain committed to making technical and program changes as needed. We will continue to monitor EPA's efforts on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help protect the quality of our nation's water resources, and to strengthen EPA's implementation of its responsibilities under the Clean Water Act's section 319 nonpoint source pollution control program, the Administrator of EPA should, in revising section 319 guidelines to states, and in addition to existing statutorily required reporting measures, emphasize measures that (1) more accurately reflect the overall health of targeted water bodies (e.g., the number, kind, and condition of living organisms) and (2) demonstrate states' focus on protecting high-quality water bodies, where appropriate.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In 2013, EPA issued final "Nonpoint Source Program and Grants Guidelines for States and Territories." The guidelines require EPA regions to review some watershed-based plans in each state annually, for example. The new guidelines also require that half of a state's 319 allocation be spent on implementing watershed plans, which according to EPA, emphasizes overall health of targeted waterbodies. In July 2016, we issued an update on our recommendations saying that the EPA officials said that they plan to change the program's measures of effectiveness, but have not had time or resources to do so. EPA officials said they plan to create a workgroup to focus on creating a measure for the protection of healthy water bodies in 2017. In January 2017, EPA said that it remained committed to pursue a measure for maintaining high-quality waters. Until EPA takes concrete action on this measure, we will keep this recommendation open.
    Director: Mittal, Anu K
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight of phosphate-mining operations and reclamation and cleanup, the Administrator of EPA should ensure that the agency complete its plan to assess whether corporate guarantees are an adequate financial mechanism, including giving due consideration to the experience of EPA Region 10 and BLM in using such assurances. If EPA determines that corporate guarantees are not an appropriate form of financial assurance, then their use should be prohibited in the financial assurance regulations that the agency expects to promulgate for the mining industry.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: On January 11, 2017 EPA published proposed financial assurance regulations for the mining industry in the Federal Register. The proposal contains two alternative financial assurance provisions. The first alternative would prohibit the use of corporate guarantees and instead would require operators to obtain third-party financial assurance instruments. The second alternative would allow the use of corporate guarantees in conjunction with a financial test. EPA expects to finalize the rule in December 2017, at which time it will select one of the two alternatives.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: 202-512-9338

    5 open recommendations
    including 4 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure the credibility of IRIS assessments by enhancing their timeliness and certainty, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Research and Development to assess the feasibility and appropriateness of the established time frames for each step in the IRIS assessment process and determine whether different time frames should be established, based on complexity or other criteria, for different types of IRIS assessments.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of Fall 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials told GAO that IRIS assessments that support policy and regulatory decisions for EPA's programs and regions, and state agencies, are being consolidated into a new portfolio to optimize the application of best available science and technology. According to IRIS Program officials, the IRIS workflow will be reoriented and timelines and resources will be tailored to fit the intended purpose of the IRIS assessment. This approach was presented to EPA's Science and Technology Policy Council in July 2017 and was presented to the Science Advisory Board's Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee in September 2017 for their consideration and evaluation. In addition, according to EPA IRIS officials, there were improvements in project management for IRIS assessments, such as working with IRIS assessment chemical managers individuals who manage IRIS assessments to develop timelines and a system that tracks the portfolio of IRIS products in development, to allow the IRIS Program to more effectively use resources across assessment projects and ensure timely delivery of products. GAO continues to believe that these efforts show important progress, but that EPA needs to continue to determine whether different time frames should be established for different types of assessments, and the feasibility and appropriateness of the established time frames.
    Recommendation: To better ensure the credibility of IRIS assessments by enhancing their timeliness and certainty, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Research and Development, should different time frames be necessary, to establish a written policy that clearly describes the applicability of the time frames for each type of IRIS assessment and ensures that the time frames are realistic and provide greater predictability to stakeholders.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of Fall 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials told GAO that they met with the Science Advisory Board's Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee in September 2017 to discuss responses to this recommendation. After the meeting, EPA's IRIS Program officials expect to issue a public statement that will emphasize the new portfolio approach to chemical evaluation and reflect that IRIS milestones will be varying based on the scale and type of assessment needed. EPA's IRIS Program officials told GAO that these activities will also provide the Program an opportunity to evaluate whether additional training on project management has provided the consistency in planning and delivery that was expected. GAO continues to believe that EPA has made progress and we will continue to review information provided by EPA as the agency works to ensure that the time frames are realistic and provide greater predictability to stakeholders.
    Recommendation: To ensure that current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through IRIS is available to IRIS users--including stakeholders such as EPA program and regional offices, other federal agencies, and the public--the EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Research and Development to annually publish the IRIS agenda in the Federal Register each fiscal year.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of Fall 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials told GAO that starting in 2017, on an annual basis, the IRIS Program is reviewing the information in the December 2015 Multi-Year Agenda to ensure that it remains responsive to GAO's recommendation. According to IRIS Program officials, this process was informal in 2017 but will be formalized starting in 2018 and updates to the Multi-Year Agenda will be published on the IRIS website and disseminated appropriately. GAO continues to believe that current and accurate information on the chemicals EPA plans to assess through IRIS should be made available to IRIS users. As the program continues its work, GAO will monitor EPA's progress to determine if information is provided annually in the Federal Register.
    Recommendation: To ensure that current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through IRIS is available to IRIS users--including stakeholders such as EPA program and regional offices, other federal agencies, and the public--the EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Research and Development to indicate in published IRIS agendas which chemicals EPA is actively assessing and when EPA plans to start assessments of the other listed chemicals.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of Fall 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials told GAO that starting in 2017, on an annual basis, the IRIS Program is reviewing the information in the December 2015 Multi-Year Agenda to ensure that it remains responsive to GAO's recommendation. According to IRIS Program officials, this process was informal in 2017, but will be formalized starting in 2018, and updates to the Multi-Year Agenda will be published on the IRIS website and disseminated appropriately. EPA IRIS Program officials stated that they received feedback from the Science Advisory Board's Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee in September 2017. IRIS officials intend to publish an updated Agenda that will list which chemicals EPA is actively assessing and when EPA plans to start assessments of the other listed chemicals. GAO continues to believe that annually providing current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through the IRIS program is critical for IRIS users as well as specifically identifying which chemicals EPA is actively assessing and when EPA plans to start assessments of the other listed chemicals.
    Recommendation: To ensure that current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through IRIS is available to IRIS users--including stakeholders such as EPA program and regional offices, other federal agencies, and the public--the EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Research and Development to update the IRIS Substance Assessment Tracking System (IRISTrack) to display all current information on the status of assessments of chemicals on the IRIS agenda, including projected and actual start dates, and projected and actual dates for completion of steps in the IRIS process, and keep this information current.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of August 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials stated that starting in 2017, on an annual basis, the IRIS Program is reviewing the information in the December 2015 Multi-Year Agenda to ensure that it remains responsive to GAO's recommendation. According to EPA IRIS Program officials, this process was informal in 2017 but will be formalized starting in 2018, and updates to the Multi-Year Agenda will be published on the IRIS website and disseminated appropriately. EPA IRIS Program officials stated that they received feedback from the Science Advisory Board's Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee in September 2017. Officials indicated that after the feedback is received, the IRIS website will be updated with information consistent with GAO's recommendation, such as projected and actual start dates. GAO will monitor EPA's progress, and consider whether updates are annually providing current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through the IRIS program, as necessary for IRIS users.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-9338

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve cohesion in the management and operation of EPA's laboratories, the Administrator of EPA should establish a top-level science official with the authority and responsibility to coordinate, oversee, and make management decisions regarding major scientific activities throughout the agency, including the work of all program, regional, and ORD laboratories.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA took some steps toward establishing a top-level science official with responsibilities to coordinate and oversee the laboratories, but the agency did not expand this official's authority to make management decisions regarding scientific activities for the laboratories. In 2012, EPA expanded the responsibilities of the agency's Science Adviser to coordinate, oversee, and make recommendations to EPA's Administrator regarding major scientific activities across the agency, including the work of all regional, program, and Office of Research and Development laboratories. However, as of March 2017, the agency has not granted the Science Adviser the authority to make management decisions. For example, the laboratories do not report directly to the Science Adviser; instead, they continue to operate under the direction of 15 senior officials using 15 different organizational and management structures. In addition, the Science Adviser does not have authority over laboratory budgets, workforce, and infrastructure.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-9338

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's ability to oversee the states' implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act and provide Congress and the public with more complete and accurate information on compliance, the Administrator of EPA should resume data verification audits to routinely evaluate the quality of selected drinking water data on health-based and monitoring violations that the states provide to EPA. These audits should also evaluate the quality of data on the enforcement actions that states and other primacy agencies have taken to correct violations.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA reported that it had not resumed its data verification audits due to budgetary constraints, but was continuing on-site file reviews to support efficient and effective state programs. EPA completed 5 file reviews in 2015, 7 in 2016, and was planning to complete 10 in 2017. According to EPA, budgetary constraints may affect its ability to reach this goal. According to the agency, EPA continues to focus on developing its Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) Prime database, which it claims will reduce state burden, support effective management and prioritization of resources, and will enhance data quality and support the possibility of building an electronic data verification protocol. EPA said it plans to have the system operational in 2018. In addition, EPA said that it continues to provide training sessions as well as identify best practices that file reviewers can use to enhance file review implementation. For 2017-2018, EPA plans to continue quarterly national training events. A July 2017 report by EPA's Office of the Inspector General concluded that limitations to EPA's oversight tools impede the agency's ability to conduct consistent oversight of the national drinking water program and reduce the reliability of its monitoring and reporting data. The Inspector General did not make any recommendations because it concluded the agency is taking steps to address the shortcomings. For example, according to the Inspector General's report, EPA released the Compliance Monitoring Data Portal in September 2016. EPA water officials said the portal will enable public water systems and laboratories to report drinking water data electronically to primacy agencies. Utah became the first state to use the portal in March 2017 and EPA staff anticipate that five additional states will begin using the portal by the end of 2017. EPA anticipates this system will lead to fewer reporting errors, improved data quality, and reduced time needed to report state data to EPA.
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's ability to oversee the states' implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act and provide Congress and the public with more complete and accurate information on compliance, the Administrator of EPA should work with the states to establish a goal, or goals, for the completeness and accuracy of data on monitoring violations. In setting these goals, EPA may want to consider whether certain types of monitoring violations merit specific targets. For example, the agency may decide that a goal for the states to completely and accurately report when required monitoring was not done should differ from a goal for reporting when monitoring was done but not reported on time.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA has not worked with states to establish a national goal for the quality of monitoring violations. EPA stated that, without the ability to conduct on-site data verifications using a statistically-based sample size, it is unable to derive a goal that would capture both completeness of state reporting to EPA and whether the states correctly assigned a violation for missed monitoring. EPA said that it intends to work with states to evaluate the establishment of a monitoring data quality goal once the new Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) NextGen data system has been developed and electronic data verification functions are incorporated into the system. In April 2015, EPA indicated that the agency intends to separate monitoring violations from reporting violations in the new SDWIS Primacy Agency (Prime) data system. According to EPA, this will enable the primacy agencies and EPA to better understand the nature of system violations and with the violations delineated in this manner, EPA will be able to consider developing goals for monitoring and reporting violations. As of May 2017, EPA is scheduled to have SDWIS Prime available for testing in September 2017 and available for state users at the end of March 2018. EPA will consider GAO's recommendation once SDWIS Prime is fully operational and it is able to better establish such a goal.
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's ability to oversee the states' implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act and provide Congress and the public with more complete and accurate information on compliance, the Administrator of EPA should consider whether EPA's performance measures for community water systems could be constructed to more clearly communicate the aggregate public health risk posed by these systems' noncompliance with SDWA and progress in having those systems return to compliance in a timely manner.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EPA told GAO that it continues to use a variety of tools and resources to identify strategies that will enhance how the agency conveys to the public information on drinking water quality and potential health risks associated with exposure to contaminants. With regard to GAO's recommendation, EPA told us it had previously collaborated with the EPA Regional managers to identify language that would enhance the communication of aggregate public health risk to consumers in regards to community water system measures. EPA developed the "person month" measure because it describes the percentage of people served by community water system that receive drinking water that meets all health-based drinking water standards, accounting for the duration of violations that occurred. EPA piloted this measure in Fiscal Year 2007 as an indicator measure. In Fiscal Year 2008, the measure was elevated to a strategic plan measure with established targets. After receiving positive response regarding this measure, in Fiscal Year 2015, the agency developed a "person month" measure for tribal community water systems. According to the agency, EPA will continue to take comments on existing and future measures during its 5 year strategic plan reviews.
    Director: Shear, William B
    Phone: (202)512-4325

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To more fully evaluate the effectiveness of their mentor-protege programs, the OSDBU and Mentor-Protege Program Directors of DHS, DOE, DOS, EPA, FAA, GSA, HHS, SBA, Treasury, and VA should consider collecting and maintaining protege postcompletion information.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency: Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
    Status: Open

    Comments: Following issuance of the report, EPA established a working group to review mentor-protege policies and procedures and determine the viability and relevance of the program at EPA. The working group recommended that EPA maintain the mentor-protege program and suggested other program improvements. EPA has since suspended implementation of the working group recommendations pending finalization of SBA's revised mentor-protege program guidance. In addition, EPA noted in May 2015 that the agency did not have any mentor-protege agreements in place and thus no need to develop and implement a systemic methodology for tracking program results. EPA added that it anticipates taking steps necessary to implement program tracking in accordance with SBA's revised mentor-protege guidance once it is finalized.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-9338

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase EPA's consistency, transparency, and clarity in implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act in a way that better assures the public of safe drinking water, and to systematically implement the statutory requirement to consider for regulation the contaminants that present the greatest public health concern, the EPA Administrator should require that the Office of Water to develop a coordinated process for obtaining both the occurrence and health effects data that may be needed for the agency to make informed regulatory determinations on these priority contaminants.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, while EPA cited the January 2016 document, "EPA's Protocol for the Regulatory Determinations 3," that includes clearer, more explicit description of the occurrence data EPA uses and the health assessment sources, it does not address the recommendation's intent that EPA develop a coordinated process for obtaining both the occurrence and health effects data that may be needed for the agency to make informed regulatory determinations on priority contaminants. Since most, if not all of the sources cited are data that EPA was using at the time the report was issued, GAO is keeping this recommendation open. As GAO reported, the approach EPA currently uses does not provide the agency with all of the data it needs in a timely manner to support determinations for some priority contaminants.
    Recommendation: In light of EPA's decisions to issue health advisories in conjunction with determinations to not regulate certain contaminants that have been detected in some public water systems at levels of public health concern, the EPA Administrator should (1) determine whether the Office of Water's use of health advisories provides sufficient information on these unregulated contaminants to support timely and effective actions by states, localities, public water systems, and the public to ensure the safety of public drinking water, and (2) if not, direct the Office of Water to develop a plan to more effectively communicate such information to these entities.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA indicated that its Drinking Water Standards and Health Advisories tables provide a summary of previously published concentrations of drinking water contaminants that are protective of public health, and that the agency periodically updates these tables to summarize health advisories and regulations published to date. Since the table was last updated in 2012, and work is underway to revise it and make the information more accessible, GAO will monitor EPA's progress before closing this recommendation.
    Director: Stephenson, John B
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's library network continues to meet its users' needs, the Administrator of EPA should, in future assistance agreements, make explicit that EPA can include in the agency's public online database, without obtaining prior permission from the copyright holder, any documents produced under the agreements.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA released its "Plan to Increase Access to Results of EPA-Funded Scientific Research" dated November 29, 2016. According to the plan, its purpose is to describe steps that EPA will take to increase the availability of the results of EPA-funded research to the scientific community, environmental policy makers, other stakeholders, and the public in order to accelerate scientific breakthroughs that support the agency's mission and policy making efforts. The plan notes that EPA will create a Forum on Increasing Public Access to EPA Research to implement the plan, and the forum should be established within 4 months after approval of the plan. The plan includes language stating that regulatory licenses for grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements allow the agency to provide the public with access. Upon full implementation, EPA plans to develop extramural award terms and provide guidance to future award recipients and contractors regarding public access to publications, including refraining from signing any agreements with publishers that purport to restrict EPA?s license rights, according to EPA.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's library network continues to meet its users' needs, and for future assistance agreements where EPA cannot make such an arrangement, EPA should digitize documents produced under the agreements and make them available to federal employees and other authorized users for federal government purposes.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA released its "Plan to Increase Access to Results of EPA-Funded Scientific Research" dated November 29, 2016. According to the plan, its purpose is to describe steps that EPA will take to increase the availability of the results of EPA-funded research to the scientific community, environmental policy makers, other stakeholders, and the public in order to accelerate scientific breakthroughs that support the agency's mission and policy making efforts. The plan notes that within 4 months of the approval of the plan, EPA will begin developing additional processes, infrastructure, language, and training needed to increase public access to EPA-funded extramural research publications and data. Once adopted, implementation will begin prospectively with 2018 funded extramural requests for applications for grants, contracts, and cooperative/assistance agreements, according to the plan.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To develop timely chemical risk information that EPA needs to effectively conduct its mission, the Administrator, EPA, should require the Office of Research and Development to re-evaluate its draft proposed changes to the IRIS assessment process in light of the issues raised in this report and ensure that any revised process periodically assesses the level of resources that should be dedicated to this significant program to meet user needs and maintain a viable IRIS database.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of August 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials told GAO that they are in the process of directly reviewing program and regional office priority needs annually and will then evaluate the December 2015 Multi-Year Agenda and realign resources and priories as needed. EPA IRIS Program officials stated that this review will occur in 2017, and subsequently they plan to receive feedback from the Science Advisory Board's Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee in September 2017. After the feedback is received, they will formalize this process starting in 2018. When GAO receives documentation regarding the periodic assessments of resources that should be dedicated to the program to meet user needs and to maintain a viable IRIS database, GAO will reevaluate the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better enable EPA and its partner agencies to minimize the environmental risks resulting from future disasters, the EPA Administrator should work with potentially affected federal land management agencies, the Coast Guard, DHS, and FEMA to determine what actions are needed to ensure that environmental contamination on federal lands, such as national wildlife refuges, can be expeditiously and efficiently addressed in future disasters. Potential actions include the development of protocols or memorandums of understanding or amendments to the Stafford Act if the agencies determine that amendments are needed to achieve the timely availability of such funding when responding to disasters involving federal lands.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, EPA reported that the National Response Team considered this issue but decided that it was addressed by the Major Disasters, Section 405 of the Stafford Act and that no further action was needed. We will update the status of this recommendation when we complete our review of Section 405 and determine whether additional actions by EPA are needed to respond to disasters involving federal lands.
    Director: Stephenson, John B
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should take a number of steps to further protect the American public from elevated lead levels in drinking water. Specifically, to improve EPA's ability to oversee implementation of the lead rule and assess compliance and enforcement activities, EPA should ensure that data on water systems' test results, corrective action milestones, and violations are current, accurate, and complete.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, EPA reported to GAO that the agency had been working with states through face-to-face trainings and webinars on the reporting of milestone data. GAO will continue to monitor these efforts and reevaluate whether water systems' test results, corrective action milestones and violations are current, accurate and complete subsequent to the completion of the Compliance Monitoring Data Portal and the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) Prime, described briefly below. However, until these new tools are complete, the status of this recommendation remains open. According to EPA, SDWIS Prime will be available for testing in September 2017 and for state use at the end of March 2018. In an earlier update to GAO in June 2016, EPA highlighted several of its efforts to improve data quality, noting that it had given greater scrutiny to such improvements due to recent concerns about elevated lead in drinking water. For example, its SDWIS regional coordinators review all SDWIS data submissions for accuracy and timeliness before approving submittals to the agency. In addition, EPA provides the Regions and the States with a data quality matrix report that gives metrics on the accuracy and timeliness of the last submission, after each quarterly submission. The agency has also focused on promoting electronic reporting of drinking water data through development of the Compliance Monitoring Data Portal, and is developing SDWIS Prime to improve state program efficiency, automate candidate violation notifications, increase data submission quality, and promote reporting of compliance monitoring data.