EPA’S PROGRESS IN ADDRESSING
FY 2009 WEAKNESSES AND SIGNIFICANT DEFICIENCIES
(Prepared by EPA)
In FY 2009, EPA continued to address its EPA’s FY 2009 Weaknesses and Significant
internal control weaknesses and Deficiencies
significant deficiencies. This section
discusses the weaknesses and significant Material Weaknesses
deficiencies resolved in FY 2009, as well
as those for which corrective actions are 1. Understated Unearned Revenue
still underway. 2. Understated Accounts Receivable
3. Improvements in Billing Costs and Reconciling
Material Weaknesses Unearned Revenue for Superfund State Contract
Understated Unearned Revenue Agency-Level Weaknesses
During the audit of the Agency’s FY 2009 1. Key Applications Need Security Controls*
financial statements, the Office of 2. Redistribution of Superfund Payments*
Inspector General (OIG) determined that 3. Implementation of Data Standards
EPA materially understated its unearned 4. Program Evaluation
revenue. This resulted from its recording 5. Permit Compliance System
expenditures of more than $97.7 million in 6. Streamlining EPA’s Process for Developing
Superfund special accounts against the Chemical Assessments Under IRIS
7. Strengthening the Agency’s Implementation of
wrong fund code, incorrectly reducing FMFIA
EPA’s liability for advances and
recognizing revenue not earned. The Significant Deficiencies
majority of these transactions ($93.6
million) occurred between FY 2003 and 1. Superfund State Share Cost (Improved Quarterly
FY 2007. EPA restated its FY 2008 Cost Reporting)*
financial statements to reflect the correct
unearned revenue. The Agency will * All corrective actions associated with these
develop a separate accounting model so weaknesses or significant deficiencies were completed
that proper general ledger accounts are in FY 2009.
impacted for future transactions. Additionally, the Agency will coordinate corrective actions
among its Regional offices, and monitor special account fund code usage. EPA will also explore
developing an Agency-level control to eliminate recurrences. The Agency expects to complete
all corrective actions and resolve this weakness in FY 2010.
Understated Accounts Receivable
During the audit of the Agency’s FY 2009 financial statements, OIG determined that EPA
materially understated the FY 2008 accounts receivables by not recording approximately $151
million in receivables. EPA’s Servicing Finance Office (SFO) was not aware of legal documents
supporting seven receivables until the end of FY 2009. EPA’s Regional legal Enforcement
Offices, Offices of Regional Counsel, and Regional Program Offices did not inform the SFO of
the multi-party settlements in time to record the receivables in the financial system during the
proper fiscal year. EPA recorded the account receivable and restated its FY 2008 financial
statements to reflect the correct accounts receivable balance. To prevent future occurrences,
the Agency will utilize the Department of Justice 30-day tracking reports more extensively to
monitor unrecorded bankruptcy settlements. Additionally, staff will reiterate to the Regional
Bankruptcy Coordinators that any bankruptcy settlement also needs to be sent to the SFO so
Section IV – Page 4
that an appropriate accounts receivable is established. Finally, EPA will coordinate with its
program offices to develop a bankruptcy guidance document to be disseminated to the Regional
offices outlining the roles and responsibilities for each office within the process. The Agency
expects to complete all corrective actions and resolve this weakness in FY 2010.
Improvement Needed in Billing Costs and Reconciling Unearned Revenue for Superfund
State Contract Costs
During the audit of the Agency’s FY 2009 financial statements, OIG stated EPA did not properly
review the calculations used to reconcile unearned revenue for Superfund State Contract (SSC)
costs. Although the Agency did not concur with some of OIG's findings, it concurred with the
intent of all recommendations. To remedy this deficiency, the Agency will improve
accountability for the SSC contract requirements and site status information, research
transactions in older funds to determine validity, and strengthen the review/verification process
for reconciling Superfund site costs to ensure that data and calculations used are consistent and
properly supported. EPA expects to implement the aforementioned corrective actions and
resolve this weakness in FY 2010.
Key Applications Need Security Controls
In FY 2007, OIG found that two critical applications at EPA’s Cincinnati Finance Center, the
Billing & Reimbursable Accounting Information Network System (BRAINS) and the Relocation
Expense Management System (mLINQS), lacked key security planning documents. To remedy
these deficiencies, EPA developed security and contingency plans for both applications that
comply with federal security requirements specified by the National Institute for Standards and
Technology. In October 2008, an independent risk assessment was completed, and the security
plan was updated to address deficiencies identified. The Office of the Chief Financial Officer
(OCFO) now has in place a formal authorization to operate, which includes security certification
and accreditation for BRAINS and mLINQS. The Agency has completed all corrective
actions for this Agency-level weakness.
Redistribution of Superfund Payments
In a July 2006 report entitled EPA Could Improve Its Redistribution of Superfund Payments to
Specific Sites, OIG stated that EPA did not make timely redistribution of Superfund cooperative
agreements, interagency agreements, and small purchase payments from the general site
identifier “WQ” to the specific Superfund site or other general site identifiers. OIG recommended
that EPA 1) develop written “WQ” procedures for implementing Superfund site-specific
accounting policies, 2) provide an appropriate level of training for responsible personnel, 3)
change cooperative agreement conditions to require recipients to provide cost details within 24
hours of drawing down funds, and 4) redistribute the remaining historical “WQ” costs.
In December 2008, under the Resource Management Directive System, the Agency issued new
policies and procedures on “Direct Charging of Superfund Cost Site-Specific Cost Accounting
Methods.” The new policy incorporates all of OIG’s audit recommendations. The Agency
believes the actions taken (e.g., implementation of the new WQ policy, renewed focus on
collaboration with internal partners, and a streamlined “tickler” system that alerts responsible
partners of needed actions) has helped to significantly decrease the undistributed “WQ” costs
for cooperative agreements and small purchases.
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EPA will continue to focus on the timely redistribution of costs by monitoring WQ balances on a
quarterly basis. The Agency has completed all of the corrective actions for this Agency-
Implementation of Data Standards
In FY 2005, EPA acknowledged implementation of data standards as an Agency weakness.
EPA needs to establish a process for ensuring that each data standard adopted by the Agency
is fully implemented in a cost-effective and timely manner.
The Agency has made progress in addressing the implementation of data standards and is on
track to complete all of the corrective actions associated with this weakness and validate
effectiveness by FY 2010. To date, EPA has developed a training manual for implementers of
data standards and conducted four training sessions. To make training more accessible, the
Agency plans to offer the training module online in December 2009. The training will give
program offices and developers information on how to identify applicable standards used in their
systems and data products. The Agency will continue to coordinate with internal system
managers and developers about the importance of implementation of data standards. The
Agency expects to complete all corrective actions and resolve this weakness in FY 2010.
In its September 2007 report, Using the Program Assessment Rating Tool as a Management
Control Process, OIG identified several limitations to systematically conducting program
evaluations at EPA. These include 1) lack of internal expertise, 2) lack of external expertise, 3)
funding limitations, 4) the need for strategic investment in program evaluation, 5) complexity of
measuring long-term outcomes, 6) insufficient data/performance measurement information, and
7) limited program evaluation partnerships with states.
EPA managers recognize the need to strengthen program evaluation as part of the Agency’s
overall effort to improve performance management. The Agency has already taken steps to
strengthen its program evaluation capability. Among these steps, EPA has:
Developed a two-part strategy, including various focus areas, to strengthen EPA’s
Delivered a “Logic Modeling & Performance Measurement” course at the Sustainable
Delivered a presentation on the use of logic models to support requirements of EPA
Environmental Results Order 5700.7.
Further plans include:
Developing a Web 2.0 interactive, self-directed logic modeling course.
Developing a new course that will emphasize the use of statistically valid measurements
and help document program outcomes.
The Agency will continue to work internally to implement the strategy. The Agency expects to
complete corrective actions and resolve this weakness in FY 2011.
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Permit Compliance System
In FY 1999, EPA acknowledged its Permit Compliance System (PCS) as an Agency weakness.
EPA needs to revitalize or replace PCS to provide an information system in a format that both
the states and EPA can use to ensure complete and accurate National Pollutant Discharge
Elimination System (NPDES) permit and discharge data.
EPA has developed and successfully implemented a modernized, national information system
designed to meet the needs of today’s NPDES permitting and enforcement program—the
Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS). However, not all of the states have yet been
migrated from PCS to the new system. The closure date for this weakness has been extended
until the newly modernized PCS can accommodate the electronic transfer of data from state
systems and all states have been moved from PCS to the new system.
Currently, 31 states, two tribes, and nine territories are using the new system. Twenty-four of
these states are generally referred to as “direct users,” because they directly use ICIS to
manage the NPDES program. Two other groups of states are still using PCS and need to be
moved to ICIS:
“Hybrid states” electronically transfer (batch) the Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) data
from their state systems to ICIS and directly enter other NPDES data into the new system.
Full batch states have their own NPDES information systems and do not use PCS to directly
manage the NPDES program. Thus, these states need to electronically transfer (batch) all of
the necessary data from their systems into the new system.
In May 2008, EPA migrated the first “hybrid state” by implementing the DMR batch component
of ICIS, which allows for the submission of NPDES DMR data from state systems to ICIS in the
Extensible Mark-up Language format via the National Environmental Information Exchange
Network and EPA’s Central Data Exchange. Approximately five additional states (four “hybrid”
users and one “direct” user) were migrated to ICIS with the completion of the DMR batch
component of ICIS in FY 2008.
In FY 2008, EPA also conducted, with input from states, an Alternative Analysis of the ICIS
business case that included an analysis of technical approaches for developing the full batch
component of the PCS modernization. OMB requires all federal agencies to periodically conduct
Alternative Analyses of their large information systems to evaluate the benefits and costs of the
current systems (the status quo) in achieving the business need, and to compare this to three
alternative approaches for meeting the same business need. As a result of the Alternative
Analysis, the Agency decided to change the currently planned technical approach for
completing the full batch component of PCS modernization. The new plan is for the full batch
In FY 2009, three additional states were migrated to ICIS. Also, the Agency completed final
testing and production implementation of EPA NetDMR Tool and began identifying a select
number of states to work with to convert and migrate their data from Legacy PCS to ICIS-
The final closure date for this Agency weakness is now projected to be the end of fourth quarter
FY 2013 (PCS to be shut down in FY 2014). This completion date is based on various
assumptions and estimates that extend more than six years into the future and, therefore,
should be recognized as speculative.
Section IV – Page 7
Streamlining EPA’s Process for Developing Chemical Assessments Under IRIS
In its January 2009 High-Risk Series, GAO identified “Transforming EPA’s Processes for
Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals” as a high-risk area. In its report, GAO states that
the Agency needs to take actions to increase the transparency of the Integrated Risk
Information System (IRIS) and enhance its ability under the Toxic Substances Control Act
(TSCA) to obtain health and safety information from the chemical industry. EPA acknowledges
the issues that GAO has raised and has already begun to address concerns.
IRIS is an electronic database that contains quantitative and qualitative risk information on
human health effects that may result from exposure to environmental contaminants. Through
IRIS, EPA provides high quality science-based human health assessments to support Agency
regulatory activities. In May 2009, the Agency announced reforms to IRIS that are designed to
maintain the scientific quality and enhance the transparency and timeliness of risk assessments.
Under the new process, EPA intends to post the majority of assessments on IRIS within two
years of the start date. The Agency has also updated the IRIS standard operating procedures
and the template for the Toxicological Review and IRIS summary.
EPA agrees with GAO and, in FY 2009, identified “Streamlining EPA’s Process for Developing
Chemical Assessments Under IRIS” as an Agency-level weakness. However, while a new
streamlined IRIS process will address some capacity issues, additional staff and training will be
needed to address new data and new risk assessment approaches (e.g., computational
EPA is developing a detailed corrective action strategy that outlines the major milestones and
completion dates to address this weakness.
Strengthening the Agency’s Implementation of FMFIA
OIG identified “Reporting on Compliance with FMFIA” as a potential internal control weakness,
noting that the Agency’s management integrity guidance for FYs 2008 and 2009 did not require
reporting on compliance with all five of GAO’s Standards for Internal Control in the Federal
Government, as referenced in OMB Circular A-123. OIG suggested that EPA enhance its
FMFIA guidance to address all five standards more clearly and that the Administrator
communicate to senior managers the significance of the FMFIA certifications and importance of
complying with the GAO standards. In addition, OIG recommended that OCFO develop tiered
training for managers and staff on FMFIA implementation.
EPA acknowledges the need to strengthen the Agency’s implementation of FMFIA, and has
already taken steps to strengthen its FMFIA process and to address concerns raised by OIG. In
May 2009, the Agency issued supplemental management integrity guidance to address the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and to ensure that it complies with all GAO internal
control standards in conducting program reviews. The guidance included revised language for
the overall personal statement of assurance that Assistant and Regional Administrators were
required to use for their FY 2009 assurance letters. Additionally, with contractor assistance, the
Agency has begun conducting Program Compliance Reviews in selected program and Regional
offices. These reviews will help to identify needed improvements and training for FY 2010 and
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EPA has designated “Strengthening Implementation of FMFIA” as an Agency-level weakness.
The Agency is developing a corrective action strategy that outlines the major milestones and
completion dates to implement OIG recommendations and correct the weakness.
Superfund State Cost Share (Improved Quarterly Cost Reporting)
EPA identified “Superfund State Cost Share” as a significant deficiency under its FY 2006
review of internal controls over financial reporting. This deficiency relates to how efficiently EPA
tracks Superfund State Cost Share (SSC) contributions and matches them to expenses each
quarter. EPA has taken steps to centrally automate the SSC accrual process. EPA’s corrective
actions to remedy this significant deficiency include:
Developing and generating reports to consolidate the SSC reporting.
Performing multiple tests and analyses to interpret the data and develop a viable product
that could be used to automate the accrual process.
Discussing the consolidation of the Regional SSC process with senior managers during the
June meeting of EPA Assistant Regional Administrators.
Transferring the SSC accrual process to the Cincinnati Finance Center to initiate Regional
consolidation by parallel processing SSC accrual reconciliation with all Regions.
Implementing a centrally automated spreadsheet.
The Agency has completed all corrective actions for this significant deficiency.
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Summary of Financial Statement Audit
Audit Opinion Unqualified
Material Weaknesses Balance New Resolved Consolidated Balance
Understated Unearned Revenue 0 1 0 0 1
Understated Accounts Receivable 0 1 0 0 1
Billing Costs and Reconciling 0 1 0 0 1
Unearned Revenue for SSC Costs
Total Material Weaknesses 0 3 0 0 3
Summary of Management Assurance
Effectiveness of Internal Control Over Financial Reporting (FMFIA § 2) (A-123 Appendix A)
Statement of Assurance Qualified
Material Weaknesses Balance New Resolved Consolidated Reassessed Balance
0 1 0 0 0 1
0 1 0 0 0 1
Billing Costs and Reconciling
Unearned Revenue for SSC 0 1 0 0 0 1
Total Material Weaknesses 0 3 0 0 0 3
Effectiveness of Internal Control Over Operations (FMFIA § 2)
Statement of Assurance Unqualified
Material Weaknesses Balance New Resolved Consolidated Reassessed Balance
0 0 0 0 0 0
Total Material Weaknesses 0 0 0 0 0 0
Conformance With Financial Management System Requirements (FMFIA § 4)
Statement of Assurance Systems Conform to Financial Management System Requirements
Non-Conformances Balance New Resolved Consolidated Reassessed Balance
Total Non-Conformances 0 0 0 0 0 0
Compliance With FFMIA
Overall Substantial Compliance Yes Yes
1. System Requirement Yes
2. Accounting Standards Yes
3. USSGL at Transaction Level Yes
Section IV – Page 10
FY 2009 KEY MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES IDENTIFIED BY THE
OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
EPA’s Top Major Management Challenges FY FY FY Link to EPA
Reported by the Office of Inspector General 2007 2008 2009 Goal
Management of Stimulus Funds: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of
2009 (ARRA) will provide EPA with $7.2 billion through FY 2011. The Agency will face
significant challenges in meeting ARRA requirements while carrying out its ongoing programs.
Monitoring recipients’ activities while commencing expenditures and activities as quickly as
possible will present further challenges. The ARRA grants EPA awards require additional Cross-Goal
monitoring and oversight. EPA will need to rely heavily on state agencies, as the primary
funding recipients, to properly monitor sub-recipients’ use of funds. Superfund work will
generally be awarded with contracts, and with the emphasis on awarding funds and starting
work quickly, EPA needs to make sure contractors are ready and able to accept the additional
EPA’s Organization and Infrastructure: EPA has about 140 offices and laboratories.
Due to diminishing resources, the autonomous nature of Regional and local offices, and the
growing pressure to expand its role globally, EPA will be challenged to assess the efficiency
and effectiveness of its current structure.
Performance Measurement: EPA must focus on the logic and design of its performance
and efficiency measures, along with data standards and consistent definitions, to ensure that
adequate information is obtained and used to evaluate and manage EPA programs, operations,
processes, and results.
Threat and Risk Assessments: EPA does not comprehensively assess threats to
human health and the environment across the environmental media for which EPA is
responsible (e.g., air, water) to ensure that actions are planned, coordinated, and budgeted Cross-Goal
most efficiently and effectively. This fragmentary approach continues because environmental
laws often focus on single media or threats.
Water and Wastewater Infrastructure: Drinking water and wastewater treatment Goal 2
systems are reaching the end of their life cycle, and huge investments will be needed to
replace, repair, and construct facilities.
Meeting Homeland Security Requirements: EPA needs to implement a strategy to
effectively coordinate and address threats, including developing a scenario to identify resource Cross-Goal
needs, internal and external coordination points, and responsible and accountable entities.
Oversight of Delegations to States: Many states and tribes are responsible for
implementing EPA’s programs, enforcing laws and regulations, and reporting on program Goal 4
performance, with EPA retaining oversight responsibility. Inconsistent capacity and Goal 5
interpretation among state and tribal entities limit accountability and compliance.
Chesapeake Bay Program: After more than 20 years of effort by federal, state, and local
governments, bay waters remain degraded; required nutrient and sediment reductions will not
be met by the 2010 target. EPA needs to institute management controls, ensuring that actions Goal 2
to manage land development, agricultural runoff, nutrient reduction technology, and air Goal 4
emissions are implemented, and that consistent sources of funding are identified by EPA
Voluntary Programs: EPA must ensure that voluntary approaches and innovative or
alternative practices are managed using standards, consistent processes, and verifiable data.
This is needed to ensure that programs are efficiently and effectively providing intended and
claimed environmental benefits.
Safe Reuse of Contaminated Sites: In the last decade, EPA has placed increasing
emphasis on reusing contaminated or once-contaminated properties. However, EPA’s Goal 3
managing of long-term oversight and monitoring for the safe use of these sites has increasingly
lagged as EPA continues to heavily promote reusing these sites without the investment needed
to ensure safety.
Section IV – Page 11
UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20460
April 28, 2009
MEMORANDUM INSPECTOR GENERAL
SUBJECT: EPA’s Key Management Challenges for Fiscal Year 2009
TO: Lisa P. Jackson
We are pleased to provide you with the list of items the Office of Inspector General (OIG)
considers to be key management challenges for Fiscal Year 2009 confronting the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Last year, we developed a definition for
management challenges to clarify and distinguish between internal control weaknesses and
management challenges. In general, internal control weaknesses are deficiencies in internal
control activities determined in relation to a standard derived from the concept of internal control
as an activity. In contrast, management challenges are defined as a lack of capability derived
from internal self-imposed constraints or, more likely, externally imposed constraints that
prevent an organization from reacting effectively to a changing environment. For example, lack
of controls over approval of bankcard purchases would be considered a control weakness
because it can be corrected internally by adding the necessary controls. Conversely, the
Agency’s ability to address an issue, such as funding shortfalls for water infrastructure repairs,
would constitute a management challenge, as the Agency does not have the ability to solve
these challenges without outside assistance, such as from Congress and States.
We based our decision to include the areas listed primarily on audit, evaluation, or
investigative work we performed and additional analysis of Agency operations. Thus, additional
challenges may exist in areas that we have not yet reviewed or where other significant findings
could result from additional work. We listed our key management challenges below with
detailed summaries provided in the Attachment.
Section IV – Page 13
Management Challenges Page
Management of Stimulus Funds 1
EPA’s Organization and Infrastructure 3
Performance Measurement 5
Threat and Risk Assessments 8
Water and Wastewater Infrastructure 9
Meeting Homeland Security Requirements 11
Oversight of Delegations to States 14
Chesapeake Bay Program 16
Voluntary Programs 18
Safe Reuse of Contaminated Sites 20
This year we added three challenges: 1) Management of Stimulus Funds; 2) Voluntary
Programs; and 3) Safe Reuse of Contaminated Sites. While the Agency has taken steps and
has worked diligently to address requirements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act, we believe it is a potentially vulnerable area due to the amount of funding and additional
oversight requirements. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your reaction to our list
of challenges and any comments you might have.
Bill A. Roderick
Acting Inspector General
Section IV – Page 14
Management of Stimulus Funds
The President signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act, or ARRA)
on February 17, 2009. The Recovery Act provided EPA with $7.2 billion, roughly equal to EPA’s
Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 appropriation, for the following six existing programs:
$4 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to provide loans and grants that help
communities upgrade wastewater treatment systems.
$2 billion to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to provide loans and grants for
drinking water infrastructure.
$600 million to the Hazardous Substance Superfund for site clean-up.
$300 million to the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Program for projects that reduce
$200 million to the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund Program for clean-up
of underground storage tank petroleum leaks.
$100 million to the Brownfields Program for grants to assess, clean and help revitalize
eligible Brownfield sites.
The purpose of the Recovery Act as it applies to EPA is to preserve and create jobs, promote
economic recovery, and invest in environmental protection and other infrastructure that will
provide long-term economic benefits. EPA leadership is showing a strong commitment to
ensuring Recovery Act funds are used for their intended purposes and are meeting the
objectives of the Act. The Agency has done considerable work in establishing an infrastructure
to mitigate the challenges and to ensure overall management and stewardship of ARRA funds.
The Agency quickly established a Recovery Act Steering Committee and Subcommittees to
focus on specific areas. Early on the OIG was invited to participate in each of these key
committees. EPA is also developing a stewardship plan to reinforce internal controls over the
funds. This plan will address OMB’s requirement for agencies to have risk mitigation strategies
for Recovery Act funding.
While the Agency has taken steps and is working diligently to address Recovery Act
requirements it will face significant challenges in meeting all of the Recovery Act requirements
while at the same time carrying out its ongoing environmental programs. In addition, EPA will
have to ensure that requisite environmental approvals, such as those required by the National
Environmental Policy Act, are obtained in a timely fashion for projects funded through other
agencies’ ARRA funds.
Managing recipients’ activities to achieve the above purposes while commencing expenditures
and activities as quickly as possible will present further challenges. Most Recovery Act funds
will be awarded through assistance agreements or contracts. EPA grants and contracts
personnel will have to manage the stimulus grants and contracts in addition to their normal
workloads. Although EPA may set aside anywhere from 1 to 3.5 percent of ARRA funds for
management and oversight purposes, EPA will be challenged to have sufficient, trained staff to
award and monitor grants and contracts. If EPA does not assign sufficient staff to ARRA
oversight, the Agency increases the risk of fraud, waste, and abuse of federal funds. It will also
increase the risk that EPA will award funds to entities that do not have adequate administrative
and programmatic capabilities to efficiently and effectively carry out the work. EPA will also
need to focus considerable attention on ensuring that Recovery Act funds produce desired
results and minimize cost overruns and project delays.
Section IV – Page 15
The grants EPA awards with Recovery Act funding will contain new conditions that require
additional monitoring and oversight. The Act states that grant funds should be awarded to
recipients that will maximize job creation and economic benefits. As EPA competes these
grants it must consider these additional factors along with other ranking factors the laws and
regulations require. For example, the Recovery Act requires each State to use at least 50
percent of the Clean and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund amounts for forgiveness of
principal, negative interest loans, or grants. The Act also stipulates that to the extent that there
are sufficient eligible projects, at least 20 percent of the State Revolving Fund allotments are to
fund projects to address green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements, or other
environmentally innovative activities. EPA also will need to more closely monitor ARRA funds
because, unlike current programs, ARRA-funded grants do not require a match by the recipient
and there are provisions for loan forgiveness, so not all funds will have to be repaid. These
provisions increase the risk of fraud, waste, and abuse.
EPA will rely heavily on State agencies, as the primary fund recipients, to properly manage sub-
recipients of funds awarded under each of these programs. For the State Revolving Funds,
EPA provides funding to States that in turn award funding to a local government entity. The
local government then awards contracts for water infrastructure construction. Given the
significant economic problems many States face, they may not have the resources to properly
oversee these funds. In addition, EPA may not have the information needed to identify fraud,
waste, and abuse at the level where a majority of funds are expended. Currently, the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) is only requiring States to report information down to the sub-
recipient level. If OMB does not develop a means and a requirement to collect data below the
sub-recipient level, EPA will not have the information to identify potential fraud, waste, and
abuse at the level where it is most likely to occur.
For the Superfund program, activities under the Recovery Act will generally be funded through
contracts. With the emphasis on awarding funds and getting work started quickly, there is a risk
that the contractors will not be ready and able to accept the additional work. While EPA plans
on using existing contracts to obligate Recovery Act funds, the additional funds may result in the
contracts reaching cost ceilings earlier than expected and needing to be re-competed earlier
than planned. These additional activities will strain the current acquisition workforce. Remedial
Action Contracts are a primary acquisition vehicle that the EPA Superfund program uses to
conduct long-term clean-up and remediation support activities. A prior OIG report identified
risks in managing such contracts. The process for determining contractor award amounts and
whether they would be granted was burdensome. The complex contract award fee process
resulted in excessive award fees to the contractor, and EPA viewed the award fees as more of
an expectation for contractors rather than a factor to motivate excellence among the
Section IV – Page 16
EPA’s Organization and Infrastructure
In July 1970, the first Administrator formally organized EPA based upon existing environmental
legislation that encompassed discrete media programs for water, air, pesticides, radiation, and
solid waste, as well as 10 regional offices and a laboratory structure inherited from other federal
agencies. 1 Since that time Congress has delegated many additional responsibilities to EPA.
For example, in recent years, Congress assigned EPA Homeland Security responsibilities. 2 In
addition, how EPA carries out its programs has changed from program implementation to
delegations to States, with EPA’s role involving planning and State oversight. In recent years,
EPA has increased the extent to which it partners with other federal agencies; State, local, and
tribal governments; and the private sector to accomplish its mission. 3 EPA also uses voluntary
programs to assist in accomplishing its mission.
Since its inception, the number of EPA personnel has grown from about 5,000 to over 17,000.
As the number of personnel has increased, so has EPA’s infrastructure. EPA’s portfolio now
includes offices and laboratories in nearly 140 locations throughout the country. Most EPA
regions maintain the majority of staff in a main regional office. Some also maintain a number of
separate operations offices. 4 For example, California and Florida each have seven separate
EPA offices. EPA also maintains two offices each in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
EPA’s Headquarters is made up of four environmental media offices and an additional eight
offices that comprise a mixture of administrative, research and development, enforcement, and
program support offices. The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance maintains a
large Headquarters component, staff in regional offices, and 27 additional locations that house
5 or less staff. According to the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, these small
offices are necessary to carry out investigative work in various geographic locations. Likewise,
the Office of Research and Development is centrally located in Headquarters and maintains 13
laboratories across the country in addition to EPA’s regional and other program office labs. The
Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response has personnel in Headquarters and each
regional office and also maintains small (1-or-2-person) offices at numerous clean-up sites
throughout the country.
EPA-OIG Report, Studies Addressing EPA’s Organizational Structure, Report No. 2006-P-00029, August 16, 2006.
US EPA, EPA Strategic Plan for Homeland Security, September 2002.
US EPA, Office of State and Local Relations, Joint Policy on State/EPA Relations, July 14, 1994.
EPA-OIG Report, Congressionally Requested Report on EPA Staffing Levels and Total Costs for EPA Facilities,
Report No. 09-P-0080, January 14, 2009.
Section IV – Page 17
Denotes Regional Office Guam, Puerto Rico
Virgin Islands, N Mariana
Of EPA’s 140 facilities, there are 97 with 5 or fewer employees. 5 The Agency’s current strategic
plan calls for having the “right people, in the right place, at the right time.” However, since
EPA’s formation in 1970, a comprehensive study has not been completed to analyze EPA’s
mission, organization, and the related number and location of employees needed to most
effectively carry out EPA’s mission at the least cost. For example, with the increase in
programs delegated to States, EPA’s role and ability to conduct effective oversight of States
becomes increasingly important. EPA might consider evaluating costs and benefits realized by
those regions maintaining separate smaller operations offices in States versus maintaining large
regional offices. EPA might also consider conducting a review of the rationale and benefits
associated with maintaining its cadre of regional and research and development laboratories
around the country to determine whether they are sited and staffed appropriately for the type of
Maintaining nearly 140 facilities is resource-intensive and cost the Agency about $300 million for
FY 2008. Demonstrating the cost effectiveness of maintaining such a large number of locations
presents EPA with challenges and opportunities for potential consolidation and cost efficiencies.
Because of the autonomous nature of EPA and its regional and local offices, undertaking such a
study may require the assistance of an independent commission and agreement from EPA’s
oversight committees. With diminishing resources along with growing pressure to expand
EPA’s role in the global arena, EPA will be challenged to produce operating efficiencies while
expanding its mission. A comprehensive study to assess EPA’s mission, workforce, and
infrastructure requirements would provide a rational basis for addressing these challenges.
EPA-OIG analysis of EPA Office of Human Resources data.
Section IV – Page 18
Congress’ desire to hold agencies accountable for performance was the motivating force behind
the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 and the Government Performance and Results Act
(GPRA) of 1993. The Chief Financial Officers Act established the foundation for improving
management and financial accountability. GPRA created requirements for agencies to generate
performance information that congressional and executive branch decision-makers need in
considering measures to improve government and reduce costs. 6
EPA has been recognized for its efforts to align budgeting, planning, and accounting systems to
track and report on resource use. However, EPA continues to be challenged in measuring
human health and environmental results of its environmental programs. Despite the vast array
of data reported and contained in EPA’s information systems, the Government Accountability
Office (GAO), States, regulated entities, and EPA have pointed out that the Agency does not
have much of the information it needs pertaining to environmental conditions and trends and
potential human health risks of various pollutants. This makes it difficult to evaluate and report
on benefits derived from environmental activities and make optimal decisions about how to
invest EPA’s resources to maximize environmental results. 7
In 2006, we found that many of EPA’s programs received high scores for the program purpose
and program management categories on OMB’s Program Assessment Rating Tool. However,
EPA did not receive high marks for using information to manage programs and demonstrate
results. Of the 51 programs reviewed, 41 percent (21 programs) did not regularly collect timely
and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, nor use
the information to manage the program and improve performance. 8
Our recent evaluations have identified other limitations with EPA performance measures. For
example, in its FY 2006 Performance and Accountability Report, EPA reported radon
performance data without including meaningful baseline measures for comparison. 9 In addition,
we identified several limitations with the National Emissions Inventory upon which EPA primarily
bases its performance measures for the Air Toxics Program. 10 These limitations include a
heavy reliance on emissions factors that may be inaccurate, as well as the incorporation of data
from various sources that may use different methodologies to estimate emissions. Further, we
found that EPA’s 2008 Strategy for Sustainable Ports lacks appropriate performance measures,
milestones, and other management controls that would enable the Agency to transform its
strategic goals into measurable results. 11
Measuring environmental performance and demonstrating results is inherently challenging.
Results are not always immediately recognized and programs may take several years to
demonstrate results. In addition, linking environmental activities to outcomes is complicated by
a myriad of external factors, including weather, international environmental issues, economic
Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 and the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.
EPA-OIG Report, Using the Program Assessment Rating Tool as a Management Control Process, Report No.
2007-P-00033, September 12, 2007.
EPA-OIG Report, Using the Program Assessment Rating Tool as a Management Control Process, Report No.
2007-P-00033, September 12, 2007.
EPA-OIG Report, More Action Needed to Protect Public from Indoor Radon Risks; Report No. 08-P-0174, June 3,
EPA-OIG Report, Improvements in Air Toxics Emissions Data Needed to Conduct Residual Risk Assessments;
Report No. 08-P-0020, October 31, 2007.
EPA-OIG Report, EPA Needs to Improve Its Efforts to Reduce Air Emissions at U.S. Ports, Report No. 09-P-0125,
March 23, 2009.
Section IV – Page 19
activity, and others outside of EPA’s control. 12 As a result, many of EPA’s current performance
measures focus on program activities 13 (number of enforcement actions, pounds of hazardous
waste reduced, number of permits issued, number of training sessions held, etc.). While these
may be good indications of amount of work performed, they do not measure the corresponding
improvements to human health or the environment.
Further, a majority of EPA’s program performance information is collected and reported by
program partners, some under voluntary arrangements, who do not always agree on how and
what information should be collected, tracked or validated, and who do not report the
information to EPA in a consistent manner. 14 15 For example, our reviews noted that only 2 of
30 EPA Performance Track members met their environmental improvement commitments, 16 the
Pollution Prevention program had no independent validation of results claimed by industry, 17
and EPA’s ENERGY STAR program’s reported savings claims were inaccurate and reported
annual savings unreliably. 18
On a broader scale, EPA has worked for the past several years to develop and use
environmental indicators. These indicators are scientifically developed, peer reviewed
measures that seek to demonstrate trends in the condition of the Nation’s environment. EPA
publishes this information in its “Report on the Environment” to provide the public important
information on air, water, land, human health, and ecological conditions. While the Report
provides a broad perspective on trends, both positive and negative, on the state of the
environment, it also spells out the limitations, gaps, and challenges EPA faces in gathering and
analyzing information. As a result, the report can only provide partial answers to key
environmental questions. 19
To address these factors, EPA management needs to make a concerted effort to focus on the
logic of program design and ensure that the design includes consideration of the performance
information necessary to measure, evaluate, and demonstrate results for the resources used.
Designing programs with clear and measurable results allows for transparency of, and
accountability for, program performance. Program design and the strategic planning process
should include defining measures as well as ensuring the appropriate agreements, funding,
processes, and systems are considered to obtain the necessary information. EPA also needs to
ensure program managers are held accountable for ensuring that programs are designed with
the means to measure and demonstrate program results and that the information gathered is
used to manage and improve program results. 20
EPA-OIG Report, EPA’s Progress in Using the Government Performance and Results Act to Manage for Results,
Report 2001-B-000001, June 13, 2001.
US EPA, EPA Strategic Plan 2006-2011, September 30, 2006.
EPA-OIG Report, EPA’s Progress in Using the Government Performance and Results Act to Manage for Results,
Report No. 2001-B-000001, June 13, 2001.
EPA-OIG Reports, Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs Have Limited Potential, Report No. 08-P-0206;
Measuring and Reporting Performance Results for the Pollution Prevention Program Need Improvement, Report No.
09-P-0088; and Improvements Needed to Validate Reported ENERGY STAR Benefits, Report No. 09-P-0061.
EPA-OIG Report, Performance Track Could Improve Program Design and Management to Ensure Value, Report
No. 2007-P-00013, March, 29, 2007.
EPA-OIG Report, Measuring and Reporting Performance Results for the Pollution Prevention Program Need
Improvement, Report No. 09-P-0088, January 28, 2009.
EPA-OIG Report, Improvements Needed to Validate Reported ENERGY STAR Benefits, Report No. 09-P-0061,
December 17, 2008.
US EPA, 2008 Report on the Environment, EPA/600/R-07/045F, May 2008.
EPA-OIG Report, Using the Program Assessment Rating Tool as a Management Control Process, Report No.
2007-P-00033, September 12, 2007.
Section IV – Page 20
Threat and Risk Assessments
Last year we noted that it had been nearly 20 years since the Science Advisory Board
recommended that EPA target its environmental protection efforts on the basis of opportunities
for the greatest risk reduction. A 1990 Science Advisory Board report described the
fragmentary nature of U.S. environmental policy and the frequently inconsistent and
uncoordinated efforts to address environmental problems. Based on our body of work, including
recent reports on the Agency’s enforcement and air programs, we believe the same problem
exists today. The fragmentary nature of EPA’s approach continues because underlying
conditions remain: environmental laws often focus on a single media or threat, Agency goals
and units are designed to implement separate legislative mandates, and available technological
solutions address specific pollutant sources. Some EPA programs – like the Chesapeake Bay
Program and the Border 2012 Program – are designed to address ecosystem or geographically-
defined environmental issues rather than single media concerns. However, even these are
organized and implemented to solve threats and risks faced by individual media (e.g., Border
2012 goals are to reduce water contamination, reduce air pollution, reduce land contamination,
The relative threats and risks to human health and the environment are not assessed or used
based on the highest priority. In our review of the Indoor Radon Abatement Program, we found
that the Agency had not been reporting program results in relation to homes at risk in its
performance reporting. In our review of the Clean Air Act Risk Management Plan for airborne
chemical releases, we found that many lower-risk facilities were inspected or audited when
many high-risk facilities had never been inspected or audited. 21
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board’s investigation of the 2005 BP Texas
City Refinery explosion linked the accident to corporate spending decisions in the 1990s when
low oil prices triggered cutbacks in maintenance, training, and operator positions at the plant.
Mindful of this finding and other accidents that occurred when companies cut back on process
safety measures in economic downturns, the Board Chairman released a video-taped safety
message in December 2008 urging all chemical companies and refineries to maintain process
safety measures even during a recession. 22 The current state of the U.S. economy only
increases the need for EPA to ensure that all high-risk facilities are inspected. As these
examples illustrate, we have observed little change in the Agency’s inclination to develop and
apply threat and risk assessments in decision making in the past year.
EPA-OIG Report, EPA Can Improve Implementation of the Risk Management Program for Airborne Chemical
Releases, Report No. 09-P-0092, February 10, 2009.
US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board news release on December 22, 2008.
Section IV – Page 21
Water and Wastewater Infrastructure
Approximately 160,000 public drinking water systems provide the Nation with drinking water,
while 16,000 sewage treatment plants treat and dispose of wastewater. 23 Under the Clean
Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, water and wastewater facilities are responsible for
treating water to specified levels. EPA is responsible for administering these laws and has a
role in assisting these facilities to meet their treatment requirements.
According to EPA, each year there are approximately 240,000 water main breaks and 75,000
sewer overflows, resulting in public health threats. 24 Some of the Nation's water infrastructure
systems have components over 100 years old. The American Society of Civil Engineers
recently assigned an overall “D” grade in its Report Card for America’s Infrastructure 25 and “D-”
to drinking water and wastewater. 26 As an example of the magnitude of costs, a single city, the
District of Columbia, has estimated that it will need to expend $3.6 billion to meet various
requirements of the Clean Water Act. 27 Nationally, EPA has estimated that approximately
$1 trillion will be needed to pay for water and wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years. 28
EPA estimates that utilities are only planning to spend about half that amount. The remaining
$500 billion has been termed the “water and wastewater infrastructure gap.” The gap
represents infrastructure failures that could increase risks to public health and the environment,
as well as damage the national economy.
Meeting standards requires regular investment for treatment plants and distribution systems.
Water and wastewater facilities have made considerable capital expenditures. Local
governments spend more on water infrastructure than they do on everything else except
education. 29 However, many drinking water and wastewater systems are failing to keep up with
repairs and new construction required to maintain compliance with federal standards. Many
systems still need to build new facilities and distribution systems, and repair and replace aging
infrastructure. Further, increasingly stringent standards could compel systems to make even
more extensive capital improvements. For example, many wastewater treatment plants are
beginning to install costly nutrient removal technologies. Drinking water facilities will also need
to meet new standards. Between January 2006 and December 2007, EPA issued three new
rules 30 and made substantial revisions to the existing Lead and Copper Rule. Implementation
will increase costs through upgrades to meet new requirements, so the infrastructure gap could
continue to grow in size.
The Federal Government does not have a national approach to bridging the water and
wastewater infrastructure gap. EPA’s Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds
US EPA, “Safe Drinking Water Act – Basic Information” Website; and US Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency
and Renewable Energy, Federal Energy Management Program, Biomass and Alternative Methane Fuels Fact Sheet ,
US EPA, Office of Research and Development, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Aging Water
Infrastructure Research Program, Addressing the Challenge through Innovation, EPA/600/F-07/015, September 2007.
American Society of Civil Engineers 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure – full report.
American Society of Civil Engineers 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure – drinking water and wastewater
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies, Power Point presentation on CSOs (2007).
US EPA, Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, The Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap
Analysis, EPA-816-R-02-020, September 2002; US EPA, Clean Watersheds Needs Survey – Overview Page; and
US EPA, Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment, 2007.
US Conference of Mayors, Mayors Water Council, Who Pays for the Water Pipes, Pumps, and Treatment Works?
Local Government Expenditures on Sewer and Water – 1991 to 2005.
Final Ground Water Rule (November 2006), Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (January
2006), and the Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts Rule (January 2006).
Section IV – Page 22
received about $1.6 billion in federal capitalization grants in FY 2008. 31 Congress added
$6 billion to these funds in the 2009 ARRA. The U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban
Development and Agriculture also provided grant and loan assistance of about $2 billion in FY
2006 32 and received funding through the ARRA. However, these programs are small in relation
to the gap and are not part of a comprehensive investment strategy to address water
infrastructure needs; they reflect each agency’s mission and congressional direction.
EPA also addresses the gap by advocating for its “Four Pillars of Sustainable Infrastructure.” 33
One pillar is “full cost pricing.” Little has changed since a 2001 GAO survey that indicated more
than 40 percent of wastewater systems were not generating enough revenue to cover their full
cost of service, and about 30 percent deferred maintenance because of insufficient funding. 34
EPA supplements its “full-cost pricing” advocacy with programs organized around the remaining
three pillars: “Effective Management,” “Water Efficiency,” and “Watershed Approaches.” The
Office of Water’s “Better Management” Website contains several links to information geared at
improving management practices within the water sector. 35 EPA has also established a
“National Alliance for Water Efficiency.” 36 Other incremental programs, such as EPA’s
advocacy for “green infrastructure” to reduce storm runoff, contribute to reducing infrastructure
EPA’s current approach, based on providing a relatively small amount of funding to State
Revolving Funds, and operating programs such as those under the “Four Pillars of Sustainable
Infrastructure,” is helpful. Other federal agencies contribute. However, this approach does not
represent a cohesive national strategy for resolving the problem of aging infrastructure. A
comprehensive approach would realistically assess the investment requirements, and work with
States and local governments to organize resources to meet needs. It would also alert the
public and Congress of unfunded liabilities and risks. While EPA has responsibility for
administering the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts, it does not have resources or
authority to address this gap by itself. EPA needs to ensure there is a comprehensive federal
understanding of the risks to public health, the environment, and the economy if this critical
resource gap remains unresolved. EPA should also take the lead in organizing a coherent
federal strategy within the limits of its statutory authorities and responsibilities.
US EPA, Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Allotments; and US EPA, Clean Water SRF Federal Capitalization
Grants by Federal Fiscal Year of Award by State.
USDA Rural Development, Water and Environmental Programs, Annual Activity Report – Fiscal Year 2006, p. 6.
US EPA, “Sustainable Infrastructure for Water & Wastewater” Website.
GAO Report, Water Infrastructure – Information on Financing, Capital Planning, and Privatization, GAO-02-764,
August 16, 2002.
US EPA, “Sustainable Infrastructure for Water & Wastewater” Website, “Better Management” page.
EPA-OIG Report, Summary of Recent Developments in EPA’s Drinking Water Program and Areas for Additional
Focus, Report No. 08-P-0120, March 31, 2008, page 11.
US EPA, Testimony of Benjamin H. Grumbles, Assistant Administrator for Water, Before the Subcommittee on
Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security, and Water Quality, of the US Senate Committee on Environment and
Public Works, September 19, 2007, page 10.
Section IV – Page 23
Meeting Homeland Security Requirements
The World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, among
other national emergencies, elevated the Nation's expectations of EPA's emergency response
role. Over the last several years these expectations have formally expanded EPA’s traditional
emergency response function. The 2004 National Response Plan, the 2008 National Response
Framework, and multiple Homeland Security Presidential Directives 38 have established new
Federal homeland security requirements for EPA. The National Response Framework and
several Homeland Security Presidential Directives direct EPA to support, coordinate, or lead
responses to incidents of national significance, to include certain types of terrorist attacks or
natural disaster events. EPA established its first ever homeland security office in 2003.
EPA needs to ensure it is ready to meet its homeland security requirements. The Agency must
develop incident scenario plans that identify resources needed, planning assumptions, and
accountable EPA entities. In addition, Agency plans need to be coordinated and communicated
among all participating EPA entities as well as with outside federal, State, or local agencies that
may be responding alongside EPA to nationally significant incidents. Reports issued by our
office since 2003 have identified a number of concerns with EPA’s homeland security-related
planning efforts and actions. 39 Our reports 40 show that EPA’s plan for responding to incidents
of national significance (1) has undocumented assumptions and unsupported resource
requirements, (2) was developed with little internal or external coordination, (3) is missing key
accountability designations or process descriptions for handling crisis communications, (4) has
not met milestones for completing certain critical homeland security responsibilities, and (5) has
not established accountable entities in EPA with proper authority to complete certain critical
homeland security requirements.
Based on our concerns in this area, since 2004 we have identified “Homeland Security” as an
EPA management challenge. 41 Prior to 2004, we identified our concerns in this area under the
US Department of Homeland Security, Preparedness and Response website, National Response Framework.
EPA-OIG Reports EPA Needs a Better Strategy to Measure Changes in the Security of the Nation’s Water
Infrastructure, Report No. 2003-M-00016, September 11, 2003; EPA Needs to Assess the Quality of Vulnerability
Assessments Related to the Security of the Nation’s Water Supply, Report No. 2003-M-00013, September 24, 2003;
Decline In EPA Particulate Matter Methods Development Activities May Hamper Timely Achievement of Program
Goals, Report No. 2003-P-00016, September 30, 2003; Survey Results on Information Used by Water Utilities to
Conduct Vulnerability Assessments, Report No. 2004-M-0001, January 20, 2004; EPA’s Homeland Security Role to
Protect Air from Terrorist Threats Needs to be Better Defined, Report No. 2004-M-000005, February 20, 2004; EPA
Needs to Better Manage Counter Terrorism/Emergency Response Equipment, Report No. 2004-P-00011, March 29,
2004; EPA’s Final Water Security Research and Technical Support Action Plan May Be Strengthened Through
Access to Vulnerability Assessments, Report No. 2004-P-00023, July 1, 2004; EPA Needs to Determine What
Barriers Prevent Water Systems from Securing Known Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)
Vulnerabilities, Report No. 2005-P-00002, January 6, 2005; EPA Needs to Fulfill Its Designated Responsibilities to
Ensure Effective BioWatch Program, Report No. 2005-P-00012, March 23, 2005; EPA Needs to Better Implement
Plan for Protecting Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources Used to Respond to Terrorist Attacks and Disasters,
Report No. 2006-P-00022, April 26, 2006; EPA Should Continue to Improve Its National Emergency Response
Planning, Report No. 08-P-0055, January 9, 2008; and EPA Plans for Managing Counter Terrorism/Emergency
Response Equipment and Protecting Critical Assets Not Fully Implemented, Report No. 09-P-0087, January 27,
EPA-OIG Reports Exit Memorandum for Preliminary Research of the Effectiveness of EPA’s Emergency Response
Activities, Report No. 2006-M-000004, February 24, 2006; EPA Should Continue to Improve Its National Emergency
Response Planning, Report No. 2008-P-0055, January 9, 2008; EPA Needs to Better Implement Plan for Protecting
Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources Used to Respond to Terrorist Attacks and Disasters, Report No. 2006-P-
0022, April 26,2006; and EPA Plans for Managing Counter Terrorism/Emergency Response Equipment and
Protecting Critical Assets Not Fully Implemented, Report No. 09-P-0087, January 27, 2009.
EPA-OIG Website, link to “EPA’s Key Management Challenges” 2004-2007 EPA Management Challenges.
Section IV – Page 24
“protection of critical infrastructure” management challenge. 42 From FY 2005 to 2008, EPA
identified its efforts in support of Homeland Security as an Agency-level weakness 43 and is
currently taking action to strengthen this area, such as: (1) expanding homeland security
planning coordination efforts with other Federal, State or local agencies; (2) recognizing a more
complete range of issues and information that must be considered when developing response
plans for incidents of national significance; (3) developing crisis communication plans and
identifying responsible parties and roles for crisis communications; and (4) completing basic
Homeland Security requirements.
In its FY 2008 Performance and Accountability Report, EPA closed its homeland security
management challenge on the basis that it “has completed all corrective actions associated with
this weakness.” 44 However, our review and follow-up shows that many actions are not complete
and that EPA continues to face challenges in accomplishing key actions, such as internal and
external coordination of plans. The Agency has not yet implemented recommendations from
our 2008 report, and continues to request extensions in completing recommendations. 45 The
Agency is also behind schedule in implementing the Radiation Ambient Monitoring System,
which provides real-time monitoring of environmental levels of radiation in the United States. As
a result, EPA may have less information about levels of radiation should a national radiological
or nuclear emergency occur. 46 EPA has also not fully implemented a national equipment
tracking system that would be used to respond to another terrorist attack or major catastrophic
event. The nearly 2-year delay in implementing a functional national counter
terrorism/emergency response equipment tracking system may impair EPA’s ability to protect
public health and the environment in the event of another terrorist attack or other nationally
significant incident. EPA needs to address these vulnerabilities and mitigate corresponding
risks associated with them through (1) improved monitoring of the Radiation Ambient Monitoring
System contract; and (2) established milestones, accountability, and resources for implementing
the national counter terrorism/emergency response equipment tracking system.
We plan to continue to monitor and report on EPA’s progress in managing its homeland security
challenges. Completion of ongoing actions will help the Agency continue on a path toward
better management of the significant challenges posed by its homeland security responsibilities.
However, the challenge of planning and preparing for incidents of national significance,
including the potential for multiple terrorist attacks, will not end with completing ongoing actions.
The expansion of the Agency’s current homeland security responsibilities will generally require
different thinking about how to respond, coordinate with others, and communicate in nationally
significant emergencies. In its December 2008 report on Superfund workload needs, the
Agency noted that homeland security represents a new and evolving workload, it is an area
expected to demand new resources, and homeland security workload needs are understaffed. 47
In addition to the physical and resource challenges, EPA will also have to change how its
managers think about emergency response. EPA will have to expand its emergency planning
process to include more internal organizations, as well as external organizations. Previously
uninvolved EPA components will have to accept responsibility for planning and coordinating
support to emergency response. These internal and external lines of communication and
EPA-OIG Website, link to “EPA’s Key Management Challenges” 2001-2003 EPA Management Challenges.
US EPA, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, 2005 Performance and Accountability Report, electronic page 5;
2006 Performance and Accountability Report, electronic page 8; and 2007 Performance and Accountability Report,
electronic page 5.
US EPA, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, 2008 Performance and Accountability Report, electronic page 516.
EPA-OIG Report, EPA Should Continue to Improve Its National Emergency Response Planning, Report No. 2008-
P-0055, January 9, 2008.
EPA-OIG Report, EPA Plans for Managing Counter Terrorism/Emergency Response Equipment and Protecting
Critical Assets Not Fully Implemented, Report No. 09-P-0087, January 27, 2009.
US EPA Superfund Workload Assessment Report, OSWER Document 9200-2-81, December 2, 2008, page 28.
Section IV – Page 25
coordination will have to be confirmed and tested to maintain a credible capability outside
normal practice. Even when unused, homeland security responsibilities must be accepted as
Agency requirements that compete with current mission needs.
Oversight of Delegations to States
EPA’s oversight of State programs requires improvement. GAO 48 and our office 49 have
reported that EPA has made some progress in this area; however, there are a number of factors
and practices that reduce the effectiveness of Agency oversight. Key among these are
limitations in the availability, quality, and robustness of program implementation and
effectiveness data, and limited Agency resources to independently obtain such data.
Differences between State and federal policies, interpretations, and priorities make effective
oversight a challenge.
EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. To accomplish its mission, EPA
develops regulations and establishes programs that implement environmental laws. These
programs may be delegated to State, local, and tribal agencies that request to take primacy of
the program. Delegation, however, does not abrogate EPA of its statutory and trust
responsibilities for protecting human health and the environment. EPA performs oversight of
State, local, and tribal programs in an effort to provide reasonable assurance that delegated
programs are achieving their goals. In addition to regulatory programs, EPA sponsors voluntary
partnerships and programs with more than 10,000 industries, businesses, nonprofit
organizations, and State and local governments on more than 40 pollution prevention programs
and energy conservation efforts. Dealing with partners requires different types of management
approaches and controls than when dealing with parties that require oversight. EPA does not
have the resources to effectively administer all its responsibilities directly. EPA relies heavily on
local, State, and tribal agencies for compliance and enforcement and to obtain performance
data. In its FY 2007 Performance and Accountability Report, EPA states it delegated the
responsibility for issuing permits and for monitoring and enforcing compliance to the States and
A critical management challenge to EPA is oversight of its delegations to States. Federal
environmental statutes grant EPA a significant role in implementing the intent of the law, and
also authorize a substantial role for States. Federal intent is to give all citizens an equal level of
environmental protection. However, quality data is often lacking to ensure that the intent of the
law is met. For example, EPA lacks the data necessary to assess the benefits of its air toxics
standards, such as decreased incidence of cancer. Data on the program’s effectiveness, such
as changes in emissions, concentrations of air toxics in the (ambient) outdoor air, and data on
compliance with air toxics standards are limited and inconclusive. 51 Also, Federal requirements
establish consistency for businesses and within industries nationwide. States’ discretion adds
flexibility to address specific circumstances and local issues. Joint implementation and
enforcement leads to special challenges in interpretations, strategies, and priorities.
EPA has improved its oversight by implementing the State Review Framework. The Framework
is intended to be a consistent approach for overseeing programs and identifying weaknesses
GAO Report, EPA-State Enforcement Partnership Has Improved, But EPA’s Oversight Needs Further
Improvement, GAO-07-883, July 31, 2007.
EPA-OIG Report, Despite Progress, EPA Needs to Improve Oversight of Wastewater Upgrades in the Chesapeake
Bay Watershed, Report No. 08-P-0049, January 8, 2008.
US EPA, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, 2007 Performance and Accountability Report – Environmental
Progress, November 13, 2007.
GAO Report, EPA Should Improve the Management of Its Air Toxics Program, GAO-06-669, June 23, 2006.
Section IV – Page 26
and areas for improvement. However, EPA has not yet implemented it in a consistent manner.
GAO reported that EPA has made substantial progress in improving priority setting and
enforcement planning with States. However, GAO concluded that EPA’s oversight needed
further enhancement. For example, State Revolving Fund reviews show that EPA has limited
ability to determine whether States are performing timely and appropriate enforcement, and
whether penalties are applied to environmental violators in a fair and consistent manner within
and among States. 52 We found that EPA did not exercise effective enforcement oversight of
facilities with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems permits in significant long-term
noncompliance. 53 The situation was also exacerbated by a lack of complete and accurate
records of permit compliance and enforcement actions.
Our 2009 evaluation of the Clean Air Act Risk Management Program for airborne chemical
releases found that not all States delegated authority to operate the Clean Air Act Title V
Program are properly addressing Risk Management Program requirements during the
permitting process. 54 Of the eight States reviewed, five States used conditional language in
their Title V permits which, according to the Title V Manager, is not sufficient.
In other reports, we noted that EPA’s oversight of State activities or data needs to be improved
to make accurate assessments of performance and results. For example, about 20,000 lung
cancer deaths each year in the U.S. are related to indoor exposure to radon. 55 Although EPA
established programs in the late 1980s and early 1990s to assist consumers in identifying and
obtaining reliable radon measurements and analyses, in 1998 EPA disinvested in these
programs. Since then EPA has not had data to support the claim that radon test kits or radon
testers are reliable.
EPA’s regional offices are responsible for oversight of vehicle inspection and maintenance (I/M)
programs, 56 including ensuring that State I/M programs meet State Implementation Plan
commitments. Our nationwide survey of all 10 EPA regions, covering 34 I/M programs,
indicated that EPA had not been obtaining sufficient information to ensure that States met their
I/M program commitments. As a result, EPA did not have reasonable assurance that emission
reductions claimed by some I/M programs were achieved.
In our view, while EPA has improved its oversight of delegated programs, issues are complex
and changeable. Effective oversight of delegations to States is a continuous management
challenge that requires an agile organization, accurate data, and consistent interpretations of
policy. To provide effective oversight, the Agency must address limitations in the availability,
quality, and robustness of program implementation and effectiveness data.
Chesapeake Bay Program
The Chesapeake Bay is North America’s largest and most biologically diverse estuary.
Improving water quality is the most critical element in the overall protection and restoration of
the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries according to the Chesapeake Bay 2000 Agreement. 57
GAO Report, EPA–State Enforcement Partnership Has Improved, but EPA’s Oversight Needs Further
Improvement, GAO-07-883, July 31, 2007.
EPA-OIG Report, Better Enforcement Oversight Needed for Major Facilities With Water Discharge Permits in Long-
Term Significant Noncompliance, Report No. OIG-2007-P-00023, May 14, 2007.
EPA-OIG Report, EPA Can Improve Implementation of the Risk Management Program for Airborne Chemical
Releases, Report No. 0PE-FY08-0001, December 18, 2008.
EPA-OIG Draft Report, EPA Does Not Provide Oversight of Radon Testing Accuracy and Reliability, April 2009.
EPA-OIG Report, EPA’s Oversight of Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Programs Needs Improvement, Report
No. 2007-P-00001, October 5, 2006.
Chesapeake Bay Program, Chesapeake 2000, page 1 (“chesapeakebay.net” Website).
Section IV – Page 27
Yet after about 20 years of effort by federal, State, and local governments, the Bay waters
remain degraded and the latest targeted clean-up goal will not be met. After a series of reports,
we determined that while EPA could increase its use of some authorities and improve oversight,
this is not nearly sufficient for achieving and sustaining water quality goals. 58 EPA quite simply
does not have the resources, tools, or authorities to ensure that the Chesapeake Bay Program
is successful. Changes in national farm policy, local land development decisions, and individual
life styles could have huge impacts on the amount of pollution being discharged to the Bay.
Congress designated EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office (CBPO) with the responsibility to
coordinate clean-up efforts with other federal agencies and State and local governments. 59 The
CBPO was also given the responsibility to report to Congress on the progress in cleaning up the
Bay. Congress provides a much higher level of funding to CBPO than it does for any other
geographically-based program. The 2009 budget requests $29 million for CBPO. 60 With this
money, the CBPO awards grants and offers various technical information and assistance.
Congress’ interest in the Bay is also exhibited in its proposed funding of projects in the Farm
As the most mature watershed restoration program, successful approaches and solutions for
organizing and managing clean-up will be highly relevant to stakeholders in other watersheds.
Success or failure will resonate in communities across the country. The Bay’s problems are
national problems. The CBPO can be the prototype for developing ways to address water
quality impairments of other watersheds. The most important water quality issues (nutrient
overloading, habitat loss, and decline in fish populations) faced by the Bay are the same issues
the other 28 estuaries in EPA's National Estuary Program face. 62
EPA’s CBPO has provided scientific information used by the partnership in setting allocations,
revising water quality standards, and establishing stricter wastewater treatment discharge limits.
Despite these important accomplishments, Bay partners face significant obstacles in achieving
the Bay’s water quality goals. It is now widely acknowledged that the nutrient and sediment
reductions that are required will not be met by 2010 as planned. EPA did not meet its strategic
plan goals for the Chesapeake Bay in 2005 and 2006. 63 Of the five strategic goals in 2007 and
2008, two were met and three were not. At the current rate of progress, it will take decades for
Bay partners to reach their reduction goals, and that is without factoring in future challenges.
The Bay partners face the following key challenges: (1) managing land development, (2)
increasing implementation of agricultural conservation practices, (3) monitoring and expediting
the installation of nutrient removal technology at wastewater treatment plants, (4) seeking
greater reductions in air emissions, and (5) identifying consistent and sustained funding sources
to support tributary strategy implementation. Few of these steps can be taken by EPA; its
“partners” will need to implement practices to reduce loads. However, EPA will need to institute
EPA-OIG Reports, Saving the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Requires Better Coordination of Environmental and
Agricultural Resources, Report No. 2007-P-00004; EPA Relying on Existing Clean Air Act Regulations to Reduce
Atmospheric Deposition to the Chesapeake Bay and its Watershed, Report No. 2007-P-00009; Development Growth
Outpacing Progress in Watershed Efforts to Restore the Chesapeake Bay, Report No. 2007-P-00031; Despite
Progress, EPA Needs to Improve Oversight of Wastewater Upgrades in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Report No.
08-P-0049; and EPA Needs to Better Report Chesapeake Bay Challenges, Report No. 08-P-0199.
Clean Water Act §117.
US EPA, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, FY 2009 EPA Budget in Brief, page D-4.
US Department of Agriculture, 2007 Farm Bill Proposals.
US EPA, Office of Water, “Wetlands, Oceans, & Watersheds” website, Challenges Facing Our Estuaries, Key
US EPA, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, 2006 Performance and Accountability Report, page 176.
Section IV – Page 28
management controls to ensure that promised reductions are realistic, and those that are
claimed are actually being achieved.
Actions necessary to address the above challenges will not be easily implemented even if such
practices are described as cost-effective. For example, it will be difficult to convince enough
agricultural producers that conservation practices will not adversely affect productivity. And in
many cases, EPA has no clear authority to control major sources of pollution, such as from land
development. Other practices are controversial because they place restrictions on lives of the
residents of the Bay watershed. Controls may result in property owners near the coast not
being able to construct additions to their homes or develop vacant land. However, to address
these challenges, EPA and its partners will need to make major program improvements. In the
absence of significant steps from government, financial incentives or other mechanisms of
influence, the enormous reductions required will not be forthcoming.
In response to OIG and GAO reports, the CBPO developed the Chesapeake Action Plan to
improve program management and strategic planning. While the Plan will likely improve overall
management, it is unlikely to result in the accelerated progress needed to achieve reduction
goals. It will still be up to local governments to determine how they will develop lands and to
other federal agencies on how they will direct agricultural production or transportation. The Bay
community is responsible for taking action to ensure that Bay-wide commitments are met, and
that water quality goals are achieved and maintained. It is EPA's responsibility to monitor and
assess progress. Bay partners need to commit to implementation plans with realistic
timeframes and generate adequate financial support. Obtaining adequate financial support will
become more difficult with the current economy. EPA should use its reporting responsibilities to
advise Congress and the Chesapeake Bay community on partners’ progress in meeting
commitments and identifying any funding shortfalls and other impediments that will affect
progress for restoring the Bay.
Data verification problems are a recurring theme in voluntary programs. This shortcoming has
been especially acute in the Agency’s programs to reduce air emissions, including greenhouse
gases (GHG). Over the last several years, we have reviewed a number of these programs. In
general, these reports determined that EPA voluntary programs have difficulty verifying their
outcomes. We found that EPA had no Agency-wide policies that require voluntary programs to
collect comparable data or conduct regular program evaluations. We also found that several
programs showed weaknesses in their data collection and reporting systems. These problems
were caused by the collection and use of limited, unverified, and anonymous performance data.
Further, we found the ENERGY STAR program (EPA’s highest profile GHG avoidance program)
reported benefits that were inaccurate and unsupported. GHG emission reductions have been
deemed a priority, but the numerous voluntary programs established to reduce GHG emissions
have only limited potential. In our review of 11 prominent voluntary programs we found that, on
average, they had the potential of reducing only 19 percent of total GHG emissions.
We documented similar performance and data verification limitations in Agency voluntary
programs that address air toxics, ports, and nanoscale materials. States receive grant money to
collect air toxics data, but only 37 have delivered the data requested. Key voluntary strategies
are used to reduce diesel emissions from port sources. However, these initiatives have suffered
from low participation rates, lack of funding, and emissions data. Low participation rates have
also hindered EPA’s ability to achieve greater results in its Nanoscale Materials Stewardship
Program (NMSP). We also observed that the Pollution Prevention Program’s verification and
validation procedures did not ensure the accuracy of performance data obtained from voluntary
Section IV – Page 29
partners, so program managers had no assurance that performance results data obtained from
voluntary partnerships with industry and other organizations were accurate.
Some of EPA’s voluntary programs are not achieving the air quality goals they were created to
achieve. For example, since 1988 when the Indoor Radon Abatement Act was enacted with the
goal that indoor air should be as free of radon as outdoor air, EPA has administered a voluntary
program to reduce indoor radon. 64 However, inconsistencies in radon-related requirements
among State and local governments, a lack of incentives, funding constraints, and misuse of the
radon map limit EPA’s ability to achieve greater results with this voluntary program. The
problem of radon exposure actually worsens each year. To date, EPA has neither proposed
any indoor radon regulations, nor decided how to use the authorities and tools available to it to
achieve Indoor Radon Abatement Act goals. EPA did not agree with our recommendation to
notify Congress of any limitations in the Act’s authorities authorized by Congress, as well as
other limitations that would preclude EPA from achieving the long-term goal of the Act.
EPA is also relying on voluntary programs to help reduce air emissions at U.S. ports, but the
Agency has not successfully implemented key elements of these voluntary programs at many
ports. 65 One of the key voluntary strategies for reducing diesel emissions from port sources
relies on participation in regional diesel collaboratives. However, many seaports located in
nonattainment areas for either ozone, particulate matter, or both were not participating in these
voluntary collaboratives. To address the low participation rate, EPA needs to proactively target
and motivate port stakeholders to participate in the regional diesel collaboratives, particularly for
those ports located in nonattainment areas. The lack of funding and emissions data has also
hampered EPA’s implementation of port voluntary programs.
Low participation rates have also hindered EPA’s ability to achieve greater results in its NMSP.
EPA implemented this voluntary program to complement and support regulatory efforts on
nanoscale materials under the Toxic Substances Control Act. 66 NMSP is intended to help
provide a stronger scientific foundation for future regulatory decisions by encouraging the
submission and development of information for nanoscale materials (e.g., chemical identification
and physical properties characterization, hazard, use, potential exposures, and risk
management practices). 67 Under the NMSP Basic Program, participants were invited to
voluntarily submit available information by July 29, 2008, on the engineered nanoscale materials
they manufacture, import, process, or use. 68 Under the In-Depth Program, participants were
invited to work with EPA and others on developing data over a longer timeframe. As of
December 8, 2008, 29 companies or associations submitted information under the Basic
Program and 4 companies had agreed to participate in the In-Depth Program. As a result of the
low participation, nearly two-thirds of the chemical substances for which commercially available
nanoscale materials are based were not reported under the Basic Program, and approximately
90 percent of the nanoscale materials likely to be commercialized were not reported under the
Basic Program. Further, low rates of engagement in the In-Depth Program suggest that most
companies are not inclined to voluntarily test their nanoscale materials.
Voluntary programs can be an adjunct to regulatory programs. However, their effectiveness
and impacts cannot be assessed without the collection of comprehensive, valid, and reliable
EPA-OIG Report, More Action Needed to Protect Public from Indoor Radon Risks, Report No. 08-P-0174, June 3,
EPA-OIG Report, EPA Needs to Improve Its Efforts to Reduce Air Emissions at U.S. Ports, Report No. 09-P-0125,
March 23, 2009.
US EPA, Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program: Interim Report, OPPT, January 2009.
US EPA, Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program, Federal Register, Vol. 73, No. 18, January 28, 2008.
US EPA, Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program: Interim Report, OPPT, January 2009.
Section IV – Page 30
performance data. In light of these systemic findings, EPA should determine the extent to which
voluntary programs can effectively address its pressing environmental and human health
Safe Reuse of Contaminated Sites
In the last decade, EPA has placed increasing emphasis on the reuse of contaminated or once-
contaminated properties. Today, EPA has a performance measure to define a population of
contaminated sites that are “ready for reuse,” 69 and recently released a list of thousands of
contaminated sites marketed as candidates for building renewable energy facilities (e.g., wind,
solar, biomass facilities). 70 EPA has had some highly successful efforts in returning actual or
perceived problem sites into properties that reinvigorated communities and created jobs. 71
Contaminated properties have been put back into reuse as retail stores, public recreation areas,
housing complexes, sports stadiums, and commercial office space.
EPA’s goal to recycle and reuse contaminated property can produce measured economic
benefits, environmental benefits that result from preserving undeveloped lands, and quality of
life improvements for communities. While these goals are notable, EPA’s duty is to ensure that
contaminated sites are safe for humans and the environment. EPA faces significant and
increasing challenges in this area due to the common practice of not removing all sources of
contamination from hazardous sites; a regulatory structure that places key responsibilities for
monitoring and enforcing the long-term safety of contaminated sites on non-EPA parties that
may lack necessary resources, information, and skill; changes in site risks as site conditions
change over time; and existing weaknesses in EPA’s oversight of the long-term safety of sites.
Many contaminated sites, such as Superfund sites, must be monitored in the long-term (i.e.,
30 years or more) because known contamination is often not removed or remediated and
controls that prevent prohibited activities at sites must be maintained and enforced. New
controls or monitoring may be required because previously undetected or new contaminants
have emerged. 72 This can happen directly as a result of a change in the site brought about by
reuse. The lack of effective long-term monitoring and enforcement of reuse controls at
contaminated sites can pose significant risks to human health and the environment. The New
York Department of Environmental Conservation released a report in March 2009 listing
hundreds of “old” Superfund, Brownfields, and other clean-up cases that were reopened to
investigate potential new threats from vapor intrusion. 73
EPA has acknowledged challenges to ensuring the long-term safety of contaminated sites. 74 In
2005, the Agency released a report that examined a range of long-term stewardship issues 75
and challenges it faced, as well as non-EPA parties (i.e., States, tribes, and other federal
US EPA, Guidance for Documenting and Reporting the Superfund Sitewide Ready-for-Reuse Performance
Measure, Attachment A, OSWER 9365.0 – 36.
US EPA, RE-Powering America's Land: Renewable Energy on Contaminated Land and Mining Sites.
US EPA, “Superfund Redevelopment” Website.
US EPA, Brownfields Technology Primer: Vapor Intrusion Considerations for Redevelopment, EPA 542-R-08-001,
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Status of Vapor Intrusion Evaluations at Legacy Sites,
February 11, 2009; and Strategy for Evaluating Soil Vapor Intrusion at Remedial Sites in New York, DER-13, October
US EPA Long-Term Stewardship: Ensuring Environmental Site Cleanups Remain Protective Over Time:
Challenges and Opportunities Facing EPA’s Cleanup Programs, EPA 500-R-05-001, September 2005.
EPA generally characterizes long-term stewardship activities as activities that ensure (1) ongoing protection of
human health and the environment; (2) the integrity of remedial or corrective actions so they continue to operate
properly, and (3) the ability of people to reuse sites in a safe and protective manner.
Section IV – Page 31
agencies) that have a role in ensuring long-term safety of contaminated sites. The Agency
identified five categories of challenges: (1) understanding roles and responsibilities; (2)
implementing and enforcing institutional controls; 76 (3) implementing, enforcing, and monitoring
engineering controls; 77 (4) estimating long-term stewardship costs and obtaining funding and
resources; and (5) managing and communicating information to prevent breaches of controls
and ensuring consistent information in databases. The report made a number of
recommendations which generally rely on partnerships and relationships to share,
communicate, and exchange necessary information on roles, responsibilities, and costs
associated with long-term stewardship responsibilities, and to encourage non-EPA parties to
adhere to legal provisions for implementing institutional controls, where applicable (i.e., Uniform
Environmental Covenants Act 78 ). In response to reported GAO concerns in this area, EPA has
also taken some steps to better manage the implementation of institutional controls at
Superfund sites. 79 However, there remain many sites where the implementation status of
institutional controls is not available. 80
Our work has identified a number of challenges that EPA faces in ensuring effective long-term
monitoring, or stewardship of contaminated sites. We found that some States were not
financially prepared to take over their long-term monitoring and maintenance responsibilities for
Superfund sites. 81 We reported State failures to enforce clean up agreements, 82 EPA not
following Superfund site deletion guidance, 83 five-year review procedures, 84 and not having
systems in place to determine whether a site clean-up is in noncompliance. 85
It has only been in the last several years that EPA has focused attention on the long-term
stewardship aspects of contaminated sites across its clean-up programs. EPA’s management
of the long-term oversight and monitoring requirements for the safe reuse of contaminated sites
has lagged behind their marketing of site reuse opportunities and showcase successes. This
gap promises to increase substantially as EPA continues to heavily promote the reuse of
contaminated sites without investment in the tools needed to ensure the safe, long-term use of
these sites. Many Superfund sites are now moving to the long-term monitoring phase with more
Institutional controls are legal or administrative controls intended to minimize the potential for human exposure to
contamination by limiting land or resource use. A local government is often the only entity that has legal authority to
implement certain types of institutional controls (e.g., zoning restrictions).
Engineering controls are the engineered physical barriers or structures designed to monitor and prevent or limit
exposure to the contamination.
The Uniform Environmental Covenants Act confirms the validity of environmental covenants (i.e., institutional
controls/land use controls) by ensuring that land use restrictions, mandated environmental monitoring requirements,
and a wide range of common engineering controls designed to control the potential environmental risk of residual
contamination will be reflected in land records and effectively enforced over time. Currently, about one half of
U.S. States have passed a Uniform Environmental Covenants Act.
GAO Report, Hazardous Waste Sites: Improved Effectiveness of Controls at Sites Could Better Protect the Public,
GAO-05-163 January 28, 2005. See also US EPA, Superfund Website on institutional controls.
See US EPA, “Superfund Information Systems” Website, Published Institutional Control Site Reports for All
EPA-OIG Report, Some States Cannot Address Assessment Needs and Face Limitations in Meeting Future
Superfund Cleanup Requirements, Report No. 2004-P-00027, September 2004.
EPA-OIG Report, Improved Controls Would Reduce Superfund Backlogs, Report No. 08-P-0169, June 2008.
EPA-OIG Report, EPA Decisions to Delete Superfund Sites Should Undergo Quality Assurance Review, Report
No. 08-P-0235, August 2008.
EPA-OIG Report, EPA Has Improved Five-Year Review Process for Superfund Remedies, But Further Steps
Needed, Report No. 2007-P-00006 December 2006; EPA-OIG Report, EPA's Safety Determination for Delatte Metals
Superfund Site Was Unsupported, Report No. 09-P-0029, November 2008.
EPA-OIG Report, EPA Needs to Track Compliance with Superfund Cleanup Requirements, Report No. 08-P-0141,
Section IV – Page 32
sites expected in the future. 86 EPA’s December 2008 report on future Superfund workload
needs states that the post-construction workload will require the greatest increase in coming
years and will increase by 89 percent over the current full-time equivalent distribution. 87 EPA
will continually need to assess challenges it faces as well as challenges among the diverse
group of non-EPA parties it must work with to ensure sites are safely reused. To address the
challenges, these assessments should include consideration of new or expanded authorities
and regulations, organizational structures, and dedicated funding and resources.
US EPA, Long-Term Stewardship: Ensuring Environmental Site Cleanups Remain Protective Over Time:
Challenges and Opportunities Facing EPA’s Cleanup Programs, EPA 500-R-05-001, September 2005.
US EPA, Superfund Workload Assessment Report, OSWER Document 9200-2-81, December 2, 2008. Post-
construction workload can refer to all activities after the remedy is constructed. This includes long-term monitoring
and reuse activities.
Section IV – Page 33
EPA’s Response to Office of Inspector General (OIG) Management Challenges
(PREPARED BY EPA)
Management of Stimulus Funds
Summary of Challenge: EPA received $7.2 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act (ARRA) funds for six existing programs: 1) Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), 2)
Drinking Water SRF, 3) Hazardous Substance Superfund, 4) Diesel Emissions Reduction, 5)
Leaking Underground Storage Tanks, and 6) Brownfields. OIG acknowledges that the Agency
has already taken steps to address ARRA requirements. However, OIG believes EPA faces
significant challenges in meeting all ARRA requirements while at the same time carrying out
ongoing environmental programs. For instance, since most ARRA funds will be awarded
through assistance agreements and contracts, EPA’s grants and contracts personnel will have
to manage stimulus grants and contracts in addition to their normal workload. To reduce the risk
of fraud, waste, and abuse of federal funds, OIG indicates that EPA will need to assign
sufficient, trained staff to ensure proper oversight of grants and contracts.
Agency Response: EPA is committed to ensuring that public funds are expended responsibly
and transparently. The Agency has done considerable work to demonstrate effective
management and oversight of ARRA funds and activities. For instance, in accordance with the
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance, EPA created a senior-level Steering
Committee to oversee its ARRA strategy. To ensure transparency and accountability of its
ARRA activities, EPA also developed a comprehensive ARRA Stewardship Plan to address
Agency responsibilities in identifying risks (programmatic and administrative) and specific
mitigation actions. The plan addresses seven functional areas: grants management, interagency
agreements, contracts, payroll/human capital, budget execution, performance reporting, and
financial reporting. The risks identified in the plan are based on various internal control
objectives referenced in the OMB guidance.
The vast majority of funding for ARRA activities will be provided using grants and contracts from
existing programs that currently have strong internal controls. The Agency has put in place
additional internal controls for contracts and grants to address ARRA funds. In March and April,
the Agency issued guidance on the award of ARRA contracts and grants (March) and
interagency agreements (April). EPA also developed a plan for a stakeholder outreach initiative
that outlines how it will communicate information on ARRA contracts and grants opportunities to
potential customers and stakeholders (through instructional fact sheets, webinars, etc.). These,
along with the current internal controls and its Stewardship Plan, will help the Agency ensure
proper oversight of ARRA funds for grants and contracts. The Agency will periodically reassess
the risks identified in the Stewardship Plan and make adjustments as needed.
With regard to OIG’s concerns about staff workload, the Agency has been working internally to
determine the adequate level of staff and full-time equivalency (FTE) needed to manage the
additional ARRA grants and contracts workload. EPA believes it has adequate contract and
grant personnel to manage its ARRA activities. The Agency will use its contracts and grants
databases to monitor the workload of contracting officers, project officers, and grant specialists.
EPA’s Organization and Infrastructure
Summary of Challenge: Since EPA was formed in 1970, a comprehensive study has not been
completed to analyze its mission, organization, and the number and location of employees
needed to most effectively carry out the mission at the lowest cost. OIG believes EPA remains
challenged in maintaining the right number of people in the right places to most effectively
Section IV – Page 34
accomplish its mission and achieve strategic goals. OIG recommends that, with the assistance
of external parties (oversight committees), EPA conduct a comprehensive study to assess its
mission, workforce, and infrastructure requirements in order to accomplish its mission and
reduce operating costs.
Agency Response: EPA acknowledges OIG’s concerns and agrees that it could benefit from a
comprehensive review of its organizational structure as it relates to the number and location of
employees needed to effectively accomplish its mission. EPA has neither the resources nor the
authority to conduct such a broad review. However, it has conducted periodic nationwide
assessments to identify cost-saving opportunities as a result of mission and personnel changes.
Currently, EPA maintains an inventory of buildings—owned and leased—that support its
mission. Through its master space planning process, the Agency will continue to identify and
fulfill its long-term facility requirements. The Agency plans to establish a senior-level workgroup
that will examine space management and usage at Agency facilities. The workgroup will identify
options on how the Agency can use space more efficiently and achieve savings from space
rental and facilities costs.
Under the Space Consolidation and Rent Avoidance Project, the Agency has released
approximately 228,000 square feet of space, resulting in an annual rent avoidance of more than
$7.3 million. In FY 2010 and 2011, the Agency plans to release approximately 99,300 square
feet of additional space in headquarters and Regional facilities, for an estimated annual rent
avoidance of nearly $3.9 million.
Summary of Challenge: While EPA has been recognized for its efforts to align budgeting,
planning, and accounting systems to track and report resources, OIG believes the Agency
continues to face challenges in measuring the human health and environmental results of its
programs. OIG notes that program results are not immediately recognized or demonstrated until
years later, that linking environmental activities to outcomes is difficult due to external factors
beyond EPA’s control, and that performance measures often focus on program activities instead
of improvements to human health or the environment. Additionally, OIG indicates that although
the Report on the Environment provides a broad perspective on the condition of the nation’s
environment, the Agency still faces limitations, gaps, and challenges in gathering and analyzing
information on key environmental indicators. To address these concerns, OIG recommends that
the Agency focus on the logic of program design to ensure that programs and processes are
designed so that managers can measure, evaluate, and demonstrate results for resources
used, allowing for transparency and accountability for program performance.
Agency Response: EPA acknowledges the inherent difficulties in aligning environmental
information, performance measures, and results. However, the Agency has made performance
measurement improvement and performance management a high priority and is pursuing many
actions to address challenges.
EPA’s program offices have the ultimate responsibility in designing their programs and
corresponding performance measures to assess results. The Agency continues to offer training
and technical assistance in logic modeling and program evaluation and design. Additionally, the
Agency has made significant strides in strengthening its performance management framework
and furthering access to and the quality of performance data to improve their utility for decision-
making. For example, senior managers can easily view progress on key performance measures
using “Measures Central,” an Agency-wide database, and the Executive Management
Section IV – Page 35
Dashboard, an intranet-based application. Over the last few years, EPA has conducted an
Agency-wide effort to improve the systems, quality of the measures, and data in the systems.
EPA’s work to strengthen performance management contributed to the Agency’s winning—in
consecutive years—the President’s Quality Award for Management Excellence. EPA is the
second federal agency ever to receive this award, and the only agency to have won it twice.
EPA has made significant progress in addressing the inherent challenges of performance
measurement. For instance, the Agency conducted an annual review of FY 2009 and FY 2010
measures to further improve the linkages between its operational measures, senior
management priorities, and long-term environmental and health goals. Additionally, the Agency
strengthened governance/oversight of the overall quality of the measures and data in Measures
Central through modifications to the system, guidance, and training, and it has added ARRA
performance measures to the system. The Agency has also produced Measures Central Mid-
and End-of-Year Reports to improve transparency in performance data reporting across
programs and Regional offices and to monitor progress.
EPA continues to engage with state, tribal, and Regional stakeholders and has developed a
number of tools to increase collaboration, transparency, efficiency, and the management utility
of the Agency’s annual commitment process. EPA offices collaborated internally to develop data
quality Management Action Plans (MAP I and MAP II), which will ensure the accuracy and
reliability of ARRA environmental and performance data. These MAPs require the development
and certification of a Data Quality Record for each ARRA performance measure along with pre-
dissemination review, as required by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the
Agency’s Information Quality Guidelines, prior to each public report.
Threat and Risk Assessment
Summary of Challenge: OIG notes that, in the past year, EPA has not developed and applied
threat and risk assessments in decision-making. According to OIG, EPA does not assess
relative threats and risks to human health and the environment and base decisions on the
highest priority. As discussed in its recent reports on EPA’s enforcement and air programs, OIG
believes the Agency’s environmental laws focus on single media, goals are designed to
implement separate legislative mandates, and available technological solutions address specific
pollutant sources. In 2008, OIG stated that EPA needed to establish and implement a risk-
based strategy to assess threats to human health and the environment across media.
Agency Response: EPA confirms that its last comparative risk study was completed nearly 20
years ago. However, the Agency believes that the approach used at that time—to rank all
environmental risks in a very aggregate manner—is no longer useful. Current Agency analyses,
which look more deeply into environmental threats, are more useful in decision-making. For
instance, the Agency is conducting a forward-looking study that explores the relative risks,
costs, feasibility, and the synergisms of controlling various air pollutants. The Agency is also
nearing completion of the 812 Prospective Study, which reviews the costs and benefits of
various future actions to control air pollution. Additionally, the Agency is working with a number
of watersheds, including the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, and national estuaries, to take a
holistic perspective, considering cross-media issues and planning actions with the greatest
benefit. The Agency has also developed a system that helps identify where to focus permitting
and methods that use measurement tools to focus on enforcement priorities.
EPA has several other efforts underway, such as the Community Action for a Renewed
Environment program, identification of environmental justice communities, sector strategies,
environmental management systems, smart growth, and green building to address risk more
Section IV – Page 36
holistically across media. The Agency believes these initiatives encourage a more
disaggregated approach to identifying risk that will enhance its ability to focus its resources on
the highest risk. EPA will continue to use a variety of means, including its strategic planning and
budgeting processes, to incorporate risk and threat assessment in its decision-making.
Water and Wastewater Infrastructure/Reducing Pollution in the Nation’s Waters
Summary of Challenge: Under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Safe Drinking Water Act
(SWDA), EPA is responsible for assisting water and wastewater facilities in meeting their water
treatment requirements. Many drinking water and wastewater systems across the country are
unable to maintain compliance with federal water standards due to repairs and new
constructions. Over the next 20 years, EPA estimates that approximately $1 trillion will be
needed to pay for water and wastewater infrastructure to comply with water standards. While
EPA has established programs to help address infrastructure costs, such as the Four Pillars of
Sustainable Infrastructure and National Alliance for Water Efficiency, these programs do not
represent a cohesive national strategy for solving the problem of aging and deteriorating
Both OIG and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) have cited water infrastructure
as a challenge for the Agency. OIG believes EPA needs to take the lead in developing a
coherent federal strategy, within the limits of its statutory authorities and responsibilities, to
assess the investment requirements and work with states and local governments to organize
resources to meet water and wastewater infrastructure needs. GAO notes that, while EPA
partners with federal, state, and local agencies and others to reduce pollution in the nation’s
waters, many pollution sources are difficult to monitor and regulate. Among the most daunting
water pollution control problems, the nation’s water utilities face billions of dollars in upgrades to
aging and deteriorating infrastructures that, left unaddressed, can affect the quality of our water.
Agency Response: EPA is doing everything possible within its authority, responsibilities, and
resource constraints to change the way the country views, values, manages, and uses water
and wastewater infrastructure. Its Sustainable Infrastructure (SI) Initiative continues to be a top
Agency priority and has been extremely active in the past year. While long-term sustainability
will ultimately occur at the local level, EPA has provided and continues to provide national
For example, EPA continues to partner with six of the major professional associations for water
and wastewater to promote the 10 attributes of an effectively managed utility. This first-of-its-
kind national collaboration enables utilities to operate under a common management
framework, which is helping the sector move toward sustainability in a unified manner. Building
on existing efforts, the collaborating organizations have recently released a set of case studies
that document the success of a number of utilities who have used the Effective Utility
Management (EUM) framework. The EUM “Primer” has also been adapted into a Web-based
tool and presentation to make it more available to utilities across the country.
Recognizing that water efficiency has significant implications for infrastructure, EPA has
continued to pursue and expand the WaterSense program, launched in 2006. The WaterSense
label makes it easy for consumers to find products and services that save water while ensuring
performance, thereby reducing the burden on infrastructure and mitigating water availability
challenges. It also helps to build a national consciousness of the value of water and water
services, which is essential to the national awareness and acceptance that everyone must help
pay for our infrastructure needs.
Section IV – Page 37
EPA has also reached out to other federal agencies and departments to work together on
infrastructure sustainability. In collaboration with the Department of Transportation (DOT), the
Agency recently released a set of case studies on asset management, an area of common
interest for water and highway infrastructure. EPA also has recently signed a partnership
agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and DOT that focuses on
sustainable communities and smart growth. This new federal partnership has significant
interconnections with water and wastewater infrastructure. As the nation plans for future growth,
EPA must ensure that water infrastructure and water quality are a priority as it develops policies
to ensure sustainable communities.
Other recent activities taken under the SI Initiative include:
Engaging state and utility stakeholders across the country to develop a “Sustainability
Policy” for SRF programs. This effort, initiated in response to the President’s Budget, will
ensure that infrastructure investments through these federally capitalized programs move
the country toward greater sustainability. The President’s Budget also includes significant
increases in capitalization of the funds. One of the objectives of this effort is to use federal
SRF funds to promote effective utility management strategies and practices by utilities that
use these funds.
Actively working with a long list of partners to implement our Green Infrastructure Action
Plan. The focus of this work is on green infrastructure approaches to managing wet weather.
Among other activities, the Action Plan aims to better document costs, benefits, and
effectiveness of practices; incorporate green infrastructure into Long Term Control Plans for
combined sewer overflows; and foster implementation in communities across the country.
Initiating an effort to study how the Agency can effectively increase the engagement of local
officials and decision-makers on SI issues. This effort will result in an outreach plan to be
implemented in the coming year.
In these and other ways, EPA has taken a leading role with federal partners and has worked to
increase public awareness and appreciation of the need for sustainable water infrastructure.
Expanding EPA’s efforts would require increased authority and resources.
Meeting Homeland Security Requirements
Summary of Challenge: OIG continues to raise concerns about EPA’s homeland security
efforts and actions. Although EPA has taken actions to strengthen homeland security, OIG
reports show that the Agency’s plans for responding to incidents of national significance do not
1) document the methodology used to determine the required resources; 2) address
coordination with other federal, state, or local emergency response agencies; 3) contain
designation or process descriptions for handling crisis communications; 4) include key
milestones for completing critical homeland security responsibilities; and 5) establish
accountable entities, within EPA, responsible for completing critical homeland security
requirements. OIG states that the Agency has not yet implemented recommendations outlined
in its 2008 report. Additionally, OIG believes that many of the Agency’s actions to address
homeland security (e.g., implementing the Radiation Ambient Monitoring System and a national
equipment tracking system) are behind schedule. OIG notes that effectively managing its
homeland security program will require the Agency to think differently about how it responds,
coordinates with others, and communicates in nationally significant emergencies.
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Agency Response: EPA has a Homeland Security Work Plan, updated annually, that identifies
the Agency’s homeland security focus and efforts in four homeland security priority areas: water
security, decontamination, emergency response, and internal preparedness. These priority
areas have been identified as a result of specific responsibilities assigned to EPA by external
entities and the Agency’s homeland security requirements and assignments.
As part of this plan EPA developed three tiers of information to be responsive to its homeland
security mandates. This information forms the basis for understanding EPA’s highest homeland
security priorities and serves to assess short-, medium-, and long-term goals and results. The
three tiers are:
Desired end states, which describe the final outcome of homeland security projects or
efforts once EPA believes it has met the President’s or other externally imposed directives.
Desired results, which reflect specific programmatic areas through which EPA seeks to
make progress toward the desired end state.
Action items, which reflect specific program and Regional office plans (e.g., projects or
efforts) to progress toward desired results and ultimately reach EPA’s desired end state.
Although some Regions and special teams currently have systems in place to manage their
equipment inventories, EPA acknowledges the need for a national equipment inventory to
ensure that it can identify and access appropriate equipment in support of nationally significant
To address findings and recommendations for the national equipment tracking system, EPA
expedited development of the Equipment Module of the Emergency Management Portal, a
warehouse management and equipment tracking system. All Regions and special teams are
required to use the new system for tracking emergency response equipment. This application
has been improved over several versions; Version 6.1, scheduled for November 2009, will
complete the off-line synchronization option for those warehouses with poor connectivity. All
warehouses are scheduled to be in production by December 31, 2009.
EPA will continue to use its Homeland Security Priority Work Plan to systematically assess
homeland security priorities and projects and achieve its homeland security objectives.
Oversight of Delegation of States
Summary of Challenge: A critical management challenge for EPA is overseeing its delegation
of programs to the states, mostly due to differences between state and federal policies,
interpretations, strategies, and priorities. While EPA has improved its oversight, particularly in
priority setting and enforcement planning with states, the Agency needs accurate data and
consistent policy interpretation to ensure effective oversight of all delegated regulatory and
voluntary programs. OIG believes that EPA must address the limitations in the availability,
quality, and robustness of program implementation and effectiveness data.
Agency Response: As OIG notes, state oversight is a very complex and changeable arena.
Through federal statutes, implementing regulations, and program design, states are allowed
flexibility in how they manage and implement environmental programs. Within EPA, national
program managers are directly responsible for state oversight of individual programs. The
Agency has committees, workgroups, special projects, and initiatives to continuously improve
Agency programs delegated to states.
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To provide more collaboration at the national level, the Agency, working with states, established
the Partnership Council of the Office of Water and States (PCOWS). PCOWS addresses the
challenges of increasing workloads, pending demands of energy and climate change, and
declining resources. It also tests the early and ongoing engagement of states in planning,
budgeting, and implementation activities for the national water program. As the first national-
level forum for the discussion of strategic priorities with the states, PCOWS will ensure that core
and key program activities are given appropriate priority in budget decisions and identify
opportunities for work sharing for priority activities and maximizing resources.
EPA has made improvements in its priority setting and enforcement planning. Currently, using
the State Review Framework, the Agency conducts oversight reviews to evaluate the
performance of state compliance and enforcement programs. The State Review Framework
enables assessment of program effectiveness and identification of areas for management
improvements that is consistent across EPA Regions and states.
In July 2009, the Administrator renewed the Agency’s commitment to use the National
Environmental Information Exchange, which both EPA and states view as a critical component
of cost-effective exchange of data and information between EPA, states, and the public.
Chesapeake Bay Program
Summary of Challenge: EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office is responsible for overseeing
the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, North America’s largest and most biologically diverse
estuary. Despite EPA’s efforts—which include providing scientific information to its federal,
state, and local partners for setting resource allocations; revising water quality standards; and
establishing stricter wastewater treatment discharge limits—the Agency continues to face
significant challenges in meeting water quality goals. OIG notes that the remaining challenges
include managing land development, increasing implementation of agricultural conservation
practices, monitoring and expediting the installation of nutrient removal technology at
wastewater treatment plants, seeking greater reduction in air emissions, and identifying
consistent and sustained funding sources to support tributary strategy implementation. While
EPA is responsible for monitoring and assessing progress, its partners will need to implement
practices to reduce loads. OIG believes EPA will need to institute management controls to
ensure that the promised reductions are realistic and achievable. EPA should then use its
reporting responsibilities to advise Congress and the Chesapeake Bay community on the
partners’ progress in meeting these commitments and identify funding shortfalls and other
impediments that will affect progress for restoring the Chesapeake Bay.
Agency Response: EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) is a unique regional partnership
that directs and conducts the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay by bringing together local,
state, and federal governments, nonprofit organizations, watershed residents, and academic
institutions. The CBP continues to respond to and implement OIG and GAO recommendations.
In spring 2009, the CBP office changed its management structure to better align the policy,
advisory, and technical committees and workgroups with the five goals of the Chesapeake 2000
Agreements: protect and restore fisheries, protect and restore vital habitats, protect and restore
water quality, maintain health watersheds, and foster stewardship. The new structure also aligns
with the Chesapeake Action Plan and provides a clear focus on the goals and outcomes that the
Agency is trying to achieve.
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On May 12, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13508, Chesapeake Bay
Protection and Restoration, launching a “new era” of federal leadership and action to protect
and restore the Chesapeake Bay. The Order, which establishes a Federal Leadership
Committee that will oversee the development and coordination of programs and activities, will
help define the next generation of tools and actions to restore water quality in the Bay.
Additionally, the Order describes changes to be made to regulations, programs, and policies to
implement these actions.
EPA chairs the Federal Leadership Committee, which includes senior representatives of the
Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, the Interior,
Transportation, and well as other agencies. Agencies involved in restoring the Bay will develop
action plans and submit them to the Federal Leadership Committee. Agency action plans will
reflect consultation with the governments of the seven Bay jurisdictions—Delaware, Maryland,
New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia—to ensure that
government actions are coordinated and resources, authorities, and expertise are used as
efficiently as possible. These plans will be integrated into an overall federal strategy that will
direct actions to protect and restore the Bay.
In preparing its report on water pollution control strategies, EPA will examine how to make full
use of its authorities under the Clean Water Act to protect and restore the Bay and its
tributaries. (EPA will revise guidance and regulations as necessary.) The strategies and actions
identified by EPA will include:
Using Clean Water Act tools, including strengthening existing permit programs and
extending coverage where appropriate.
Establishing new, minimum standards of performance where appropriate.
Describing a schedule for implementing key actions in cooperation with states, local
governments, and others.
Constructing watershed-based frameworks that clearly assign pollution reduction
responsibilities while maximizing reliability and cost-effectiveness.
Implementing a compliance and enforcement strategy.
Taking the lead role in developing stormwater best practices guidance.
Beginning in 2010, the Federal Leadership Committee will publish annual Chesapeake Bay
Action Plans that describe how federal funding will be put toward Bay restoration in the coming
year. The plans will be accompanied by an annual progress report. To strengthen
accountability, the Committee will ensure that an independent evaluator periodically reports on
progress toward meeting the goals of the Order.
Summary of Challenge: OIG reviews of voluntary programs that address air toxics,
greenhouse gas reduction, pollution prevention, etc., indicate that performance and data
verification for voluntary programs is a systemic problem for EPA. According to OIG, without
comprehensive, valid, and reliable performance data, EPA cannot ensure that programs are
efficiently and effectively providing intended and claimed environmental benefits. EPA needs to
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determine the extent to which voluntary programs can effectively address environmental and
human health challenges.
Agency Response: EPA programs and Regions support a range of regulatory and voluntary
programs designed to help achieve environmental result (e.g., improving air quality, lowering
greenhouse gases, reducing chemical risk). Currently, there are nearly 50 voluntary programs
administered by EPA at the federal level (more exists at the state and local levels). Voluntary
partnership programs can enhance or complement regulatory programs, encourage
environmental performance beyond what is legally required, and help to address issues difficult
to regulate (or not yet ripe for regulation).
The Agency has developed guidelines on partnership program design, measurement,
marketing, and evaluation. However, most voluntary programs are managed by individual
national program managers who use various methods to track and report program effectiveness
and impact on the environment. EPA’s Innovation Action Council has identified program
management improvements including codifying minimum requirements for program design and
operation; making new program notification mandatory; defining categories of partnership
programs; and developing new guidelines for evaluating a partnership program.
According to the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, “There is
a widespread misperception that EPA’s primary stewardship tool consists of voluntary
partnership programs. The reality is, however, that the Agency has many additional assets to
promote stewardship, such as regulatory programs, grants, information, public speeches, and
in-house operations. EPA achieves its most effective results when it uses these tools in
EPA is taking steps to improve performance information to determine the effectiveness of
partnership programs. For example, an interim evaluation of the Nanoscale Materials
Stewardship Program notes that as much as 90 percent of the different nanoscale materials that
are likely to be commercially available were not reported. The Agency’s conclusion then was
that it had learned a great deal about nanoscale materials in commerce, but the program did not
provide the needed breadth of health and safety data and the participation rate was lower than
hoped. In response, EPA is developing a mandatory reporting rule under the Toxic Substances
Control Act (TSCA) Section 8(a) to require companies to report data on existing uses,
production volumes, specific physical properties, chemical and structural characteristics,
methods of manufacture and processing, exposure and release information, and available
health and safety data. EPA is also developing a mandatory test rule under TSCA Section 4 to
require companies to test a number of manufactured nanomaterials for health and
environmental effects. The information submitted under these regulations will further EPA’s
understanding of the uses and potential risks of manufactured nanomaterials, and strengthen
the scientific basis for taking appropriate risk management actions. Another example of
continuous improvement of performance information can be found with the pollution prevention
(P2) programs. While EPA agrees that not all P2 programs had standard operating procedures
in place for performance data at the time of the audit, many did. The program is currently
working to incorporate lessons learned across the program and develop comprehensive
standard operating procedures and QA/QC practices for performance information.
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Safe Reuse of Contaminated Sites
Summary of Challenge: EPA places increasing emphasis on the reuse of contaminated or
once-contaminated properties and has a performance measure to define a population of
contaminated sites that are ready for reuse. EPA faces “significant and increasing” challenges in
this area, however, due to the common practice of not removing all sources of contamination
from hazardous sites; a regulatory structure that places key responsibilities for monitoring and
enforcing the long-term safety of contaminated sites on non-EPA parties that may lack
necessary resources, information, and skill; changes in site risks as site conditions change over
time; and existing weaknesses in EPA’s oversight of the long-term safety of sites. EPA will
continually need to assess challenges it faces as well as challenges among the diverse group of
non-EPA parties it must work with to ensure that sites are safely reused. To address the
challenges, these assessments should include consideration of new or expanded authorities
and regulations, organization structures, and dedicated funding and resources.
Agency Response: In its April 2009 report, OIG identified a number of concerns associated
with ensuring the long-term safety of contaminated sites, and EPA agrees with OIG’s
OIG stated that “EPA’s management of the long-term oversight and monitoring requirements for
the safe reuse of contaminated sites has lagged behind their marketing of site reuse
opportunities and showcase successes.” Using a variety of tools, Regions are working closely
with prospective users to ensure they understand the limitations associated with the site and
use the site in a way that prevents exposures. Comfort letters and Ready for Reuse
determinations lay out any limitations that need to be followed to ensure protectiveness. Some
Regions have official processes for prospective users that ensure the reuse will be compatible
with the remedy. In addition, EPA works closely with state and local governments to ensure that
mechanisms such as institutional controls are maintained to permit safe reuse of sites. EPA also
conducts five-year reviews at all sites to ensure continued remedy protection where waste is left
OIG also notes that states were not financially prepared to take over their long-term monitoring
and maintenance responsibilities. The Agency is aware of a few instances in which states did
not have the funding needed to continue their responsibilities. Though state budgets have been
constrained, states have strived to maintain their responsibilities. Further, OIG specifies that
states failed to enforce cleanup agreements. EPA continually encourages state enforcement of
cleanup agreements, meeting with the Association of State and Territorial Waste Management
Officials member states and offering technical assistance. In response to OIG’s concern that
EPA is not following Superfund site deletion guidance or five-year review procedures, the
Agency has new procedures and processes in place to ensure that deletion actions comply with
the National Contingency Plan and EPA guidance. Additionally, current procedures remain in
place to ensure appropriate implementation of five-year review guidance. Finally, OIG believes
that EPA does not have systems in place to determine whether a site cleanup is in
noncompliance. The Agency is working to finalize the draft Guidance on Tracking Substantial
Noncompliance With CERCLA Enforcement Instruments in CERCLIS. Once the guidance is
issued, Regions will begin entering compliance tracking data into CERCLIS in the fourth quarter
of FY 2009.
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