Reports & Testimonies

GAO’s reports and testimonies give Congress, federal agencies, and the public timely, fact-based, non-partisan information that can improve government operations and save taxpayers billions of dollars.

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Clean Water Act: EPA Should Track Control of Combined Sewer Overflows and Water Quality Improvements

GAO-23-105285
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Combined sewer systems collect sewage and storm runoff in the same pipes for treatment. This means heavy rainfall can overwhelm system capacity, causing raw sewage to overflow into waterways. About 700 U.S. municipalities have such systems. In 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency told these municipalities to develop plans to address overflows and comply with the Clean Water Act. The 11 municipalities we reviewed faced challenges—such...

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Federal Energy and Water Management: Agencies Report Mixed Success in Meeting Efficiency Requirements, and Additional Data Are Needed

GAO-23-105673
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For decades the federal government has worked to improve energy and water efficiency at federal facilities. It remains the U.S.'s single largest energy consumer, and occupants of its about 350,000 buildings used 119 billion gallons of water in FY 2021. We looked at data for 27 agencies that report their energy and water use to the Department of Energy and their compliance with 6 energy...

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Science & Tech Spotlight: Biorecycling of Plastics

GAO-23-106261
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People around the world generated more than 350 million tons of plastic waste in 2019 and very little of it was recycled. When plastic waste ends up in landfills and the ocean, it can harm the environment and human health. A new technology—biorecycling—may help address this problem. It uses microbes, such as bacteria or fungi, to recycle plastics. This Science & Tech Spotlight discusses how...

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Offshore Oil and Gas: Strategy Urgently Needed to Address Cybersecurity Risks to Infrastructure

GAO-23-105789
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A network of over 1,600 offshore facilities produce a significant portion of U.S. domestic oil and gas. These facilities, which rely on technology to remotely monitor and control equipment, face a growing risk of cyberattacks. A cyberattack on these facilities could cause physical, environmental, and economic harm. And disruptions to oil and gas production and transmission could affect supplies and markets. The Department of the...

Wildland Fire: Barriers to Recruitment and Retention of Federal Wildland Firefighters

GAO-23-105517
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U.S. wildfires have grown more severe in recent years. The Department of Agriculture's Forest Service and 4 agencies within the Department of the Interior rely on about 18,700 employees to fight fires. But recruiting and retaining federal wildland firefighters has been difficult due to factors like low pay, poor work-life balance, limited workforce diversity, and more. To help, the Forest Service has increased the size...

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Pipeline Safety: Fully Implementing Key Practices Could Help Improve Transparency of Enforcement Website

GAO-23-105537
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The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration inspects interstate natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines, investigates accidents, and enforces laws and regulations. The agency puts information about its enforcement activities on its public Enforcement Transparency website. We found that the website generally aligned with key practices for transparently reporting government data, but the agency could make some improvements. For example, a better search tool could...

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Renewable Fuel Standard: Actions Needed to Improve Decision-Making in the Small Refinery Exemption Program

GAO-23-105801
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Small refineries can apply for an exemption from the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires the blending of biofuel into gasoline and diesel. The number of exemptions granted through this program has fluctuated significantly from year to year. But the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy don't have the information, policies, or procedures needed to fully ensure that exemption decisions are valid. EPA also...

Renewable Fuel Standard: Actions Needed to Improve Decision-Making in the Small Refinery Exemption Program

GAO-23-104273
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Small refineries can apply for an exemption from the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires the blending of biofuel into gasoline and diesel. The number of exemptions granted through this program has fluctuated significantly from year to year. But the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy don't have the information, policies, or procedures needed to fully ensure that exemption decisions are valid. EPA also...

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Satellite Licensing: FCC Should Reexamine Its Environmental Review Process for Large Constellations of Satellites

GAO-23-105005
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By 2030, tens of thousands of commercial satellites are expected to join the thousands of satellites already in orbit. Scientists and others have raised concerns about the potential environmental and other effects of large quantities of satellites. Companies submit satellite launch proposals to the Federal Communications Commission for licensing. FCC reviews potential environmental effects—unless the proposal is in a category that FCC has excluded from...

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Minerais Sources De Conflits: La Paix et la Sécurité Globales dans l'Est de la République Démocratique du Congo ne se sont pas Améliorées depuis 2014

GAO-23-106085
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To see the version of this page in English, see GAO-22-105411. Diverses sources rapportent que l’exploitation minière et le commerce de “minerais de conflit”, tels que l’étain et l’or, contribuent à financer le conflit en République Démocratique du Congo (RDC). Selon nos entretiens avec 10 experts de la RDC, ainsi que notre examen des documents et données des Nations Unies et autres institutions: Les groupes...

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Persistent Chemicals: EPA Should Use New Data to Analyze the Demographics of Communities with PFAS in Their Drinking Water

GAO-22-105135
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PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of chemicals used in numerous consumer products—such as nonstick cookware. Most people in the U.S. have been exposed to PFAS, which can be harmful to humans at certain levels. The EPA plans to regulate PFAS in drinking water in 2023. However, it doesn't currently have nationwide information about the demographic characteristics of communities with PFAS in their...

Working Dogs: Federal Agencies Need to Better Address Health and Welfare

GAO-23-104489
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Federal agencies use about 5,000 working dogs to detect explosives and narcotics, among other things. They also provide about a thousand dogs to foreign countries to support law enforcement and antiterrorism efforts. Federal agencies addressed many of the 18 issues we identified as important to working dog health and welfare, such as exercise and routine veterinary care. But about half of the federally-managed and contractor-managed...

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Federal Fisheries Management: Overfishing Determinations Vary Across Regions, and Data Challenges Complicate Management Efforts

GAO-23-105172
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The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) manages fish stocks in federal waters. This includes working to prevent overfishing and giving fish stocks that are overfished a chance to rebuild. NMFS offices submit information on overfishing and overfished stocks to a central database. But this database has some limitations—like not allowing staff to easily analyze trends over multiple years, which can be useful for tracking the...

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Large Constellations of Satellites: Mitigating Environmental and Other Effects

GAO-22-105166
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For decades, satellites have been used for GPS, communications, and remote sensing. The number of satellites has recently increased, as thousands more have been launched to provide internet access. But this increase may be disruptive. For example, it could lead to more space debris, which can damage existing satellites used for commerce or national security. We reviewed technologies and other tools to lessen potential effects...

Climate Change: Oversight of Federal Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Efforts

GAO-22-106062
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Each year the federal government reports spending billions of dollars on activities related to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. These activities include investments in energy efficiency and technologies to capture carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provided additional billions of dollars in funding and tax credits for such efforts. We drew from previous reports...

Nuclear Waste: DOE Needs to Improve Transparency in Planning for Disposal of Certain Low-Level Waste

GAO-22-105636
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The Department of Energy is responsible for disposing of certain low-level nuclear waste from medical equipment, metals in nuclear reactors, and cleanup sites. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 required DOE to assess the potential environmental effects of various disposal options. No legal options currently exist. DOE's assessments were extensive but didn't give rationales for preferring certain disposal options. They also weren't clear on the...

Decarbonization: Status, Challenges, and Policy Options for Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage

GAO-22-105274
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Technologies that capture, use, and store carbon can help address climate change. These technologies capture CO2 at sources like industrial facilities or remove it from the atmosphere, then either store it underground or use it to produce goods, like concrete. Many of these technologies are ready for wider demonstration or deployment. But, the industry overall is in its infancy and faces multiple challenges, including high...

Tracking the Funds: Specific Fiscal Year 2022 Provisions for Environmental Protection Agency

GAO-22-105903
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As part of FY22 appropriations, Members of Congress could request to designate a certain amount of federal funding for specific projects in their communities. While agencies often have discretion over how they award funds, Congress has directed them to distribute these funds to designated recipients. We're tracking the funds to help ensure transparency. The Environmental Protection Agency's FY22 appropriations included $859.3 million for 491 of...

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Nuclear Waste Cleanup: Actions Needed to Determine Whether DOE's New Contracting Approach is Achieving Desired Results

GAO-22-105417
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The Department of Energy uses contractors to clean up radioactive and other hazardous materials at 15 nuclear weapons production and energy research sites. In 2019, it began a new contracting approach that was expected to help streamline the process and provide other benefits. As of June 2022, it had awarded 6 contracts worth up to a combined $47 billion through this model. We found weaknesses...

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Climate Change: Enhancing Federal Resilience

GAO-22-106061
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Between FY 2015-2021, the federal government spent billions of dollars on disaster assistance. Disaster costs are projected to increase as certain extreme weather events like drought or floods become more frequent and intense due to climate change. Enhancing the government's climate resilience—planning and preparation for potential climate hazards—can help it reduce potential future losses. We drew from several of our reports to highlight opportunities for...