THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Accompanying Report of the National Performance Review Office of the Vice President Washington, DC September 1993
The United States is a major exporter of pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that in 1991, approximately 400 million pounds of pesticides were exported from the United States.(1) This represents 10 percent of the approximately 4 billion pounds of pesticides that are used annually throughout the world.(2) The United States exports pesticides to both industrialized and developing countries.
Before a pesticide may be sold or distributed in the United States, it must be registered by EPA. The EPA reaches registration decisions from an evaluation of the risks posed by the use of the pesticide as compared to the benefits the use confers. If EPA determines that a product cannot be safely used, a registration application may be denied, or, in the case of an already registered product, an existing registration may be canceled.
Although decisions by EPA determine whether a pesticide can be sold in the United States, there are no registration requirements for pesticides that are to be exported. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act does, however, impose certain labeling and notification requirements for exported pesticides. If these requirements are met, pesticides can be exported even if they are not registered, or were registered and then had that registration cancelled.
EPA has found that most developing countries are illequipped to handle hazardous pesticides. Only a few countries have effective laws governing the import, use, and disposal of pesticides. In 1990, the World Health Organization estimated that as many as 25 million workers in developing countries could suffer an incident of pesticide poisoning each year. International pressure is growing to place stricter controls on the export and import of pesticides.
An issue has arisen in the United States over the export of pesticides that have been banned here but are used in other countries whose crops are then sold in the United States. This "circle of poison" has raised concerns about the safety of some imported foods. About 25 percent of all the foods available to U.S. consumers are imported.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are responsible for ensuring that all foods, including imports, comply with our food safety laws. The FDA and USDA monitor fruit, grain, meat, and dairy products for contaminants, including pesticide residues. Under U.S. food safety laws, foods found to contain residues of a pesticide for which no allowable pesticide limit (tolerance) exists, or that exceed an allowable tolerance, are considered to be adulterated. Such foods are prohibited from sale in the United States.
Of the 18,113 monitoring tests taken by FDA in 1989, 10,719 surveillance samples were performed on imported foods. Of these, 97 percent contained no violative residues. Most of the violations found consisted of residues for which no tolerance levels had been set.
The government only samples a relatively small number of food shipments. A majority of food shipments enter the country without having undergone any analysis. Further, unless a pesticide has been registered, the government is not likely to have an analytical method capable of detecting residues of a pesticide. Thus, some residues that may be harmful to the public health could be missed.
To address some of the concerns for pesticide exposure incidents in developing countries, as well as to improve the safety of imported foods, the EPA helped develop an international information-sharing program led by the United Nations (U.N.) known as the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedures. The PIC can provide importing countries information on pesticides that have been banned or severely restricted in order to protect human health or the environment. An importing country can then notify the U.N. whether a particular banned pesticide is acceptable to that country for future import.
The PIC has broad international support, but it is a voluntary program. Thus, even though the United States, other major exporting countries, and major pesticide trade organizations in many countries have indicated a willingness to comply with PIC, the program is difficult to enforce. There are few steps that can be taken under PIC against pesticide exporters who choose to export a banned pesticide, against the wishes of an importing country.
In addition to relying on PIC, many countries, especially in the developing world, rely on the United States for information about pesticide use. Our regulatory system serves as a valuable guide for developing countries that lack the resources and/or expertise to evaluate health and safety data or establish worker training programs. Further, many countries that export food products to the United States need information about our standards and regulations so that they can meet the requirements for foods to be shipped here. Technical assistance and training from the United States are in great demand in the developing world. The United States receives more requests than it can fulfill to assist these countries in their efforts to use pesticides more safely.
Given the necessity to break the circle of poison, and the technical expertise the United States can provide other countries, EPA should embark on a three-pronged approach to make the world safer from the harmful effects of many pesticides.
This legislation should require appropriate analytical methods that can detect the presence of residues of non-registered pesticides and require exporters to keep records and report on types of pesticides exported, country of destination, and general information on pesticide use.
2. EPA should work with appropriate national and international organizations and private industry to develop policies that make PIC more enforceable throughout the world.
EPA should seek legislation that gives it the authority to enforce PIC in the United States. This could serve to spur other countries, especially developing countries, to implement similar laws and policies to enforce PIC. These countries look to the United States for the lead in such matters, because of its technical expertise.
3. EPA, in cooperation with USDA and FDA, should consider developing a public-private sector partnership to provide technical assistance to developing countries by January 1995.
This program should address technical assistance and training requests from developing countries on how to safely use pesticides.
This would be a step toward breaking the circle of poison, that is, ensuring that U.S. citizens are not exposed to harmful chemicals on imported foods. Additionally, it would assist developing nations to better control the import of potentially harmful pesticides. The program would enhance the status of the United States in the eyes of developing nations as a leader for a safer environment.
EPA should be able to begin implementing this program with current resources.
Historically, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has targeted its activities toward the implementation of a broad range of statutes and related regulations. These were developed incrementally as major national environmental problems were identified. In response to everincreasing statutory mandates, the agency has focused more on implementing statutes and less on achieving measurable environmental results.
The agency has also pursued a media- specific approach to pollution control that ignores connections between air, water, and waste. The basic approach has been one of command-and-control, one that often addresses environmental issues in a way that transfers pollution among various media rather than eliminating it. Though this approach has resulted in significant environmental improvements over the past 20 years, other mechanisms must be developed to address the complex, multi-media environmental problems our country faces today.
Over the past few years, the agency's strategic planning process has begun to take hold, but it is still ineffective in directing EPA's resources and implementation in an optimal manner. There is a growing need to link strategic planning with budget formulation and implementation efforts. This would allow the agency to aim for measurable environmental goals.
The need for strategic planning and performance measurement has been recognized governmentwide. The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, signed by President Clinton on August 3, 1993, requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to designate 10 agencies as pilot projects in planning, measuring, and reporting performance by fiscal year 1994. By September 1997, each agency will submit to OMB and Congress a strategic plan that will set measurable goals, direct agency activities and resources, and identify progress towards objectives.
As its responsibilities continue to grow in a tight fiscal climate, EPA must maximize its opportunity to direct environmental change. A strategic planning process that emerges from broad-based participation and continuous assessment of progress will be the vehicle for transforming agency direction in coming years. This plan should be a living document that guides strategy and implementation on an annual basis and provides the criteria for measuring progress. It should provide the context to link resources to activities and activities to environmental results. As these strategic plans are developed, current management practices and delivery systems need to be reassessed and revised to efficiently deliver the agency's services. Building appropriate incentives for headquarters, regions, states, and industry to participate in the process will be an important component of reinventing EPA.
Clarification of EPA's roles and responsibilities in the larger environmental community will guide stakeholders in determining their own function in the country's overall environmental agenda. Many federal agencies contribute to environmental problems that others are charged with correcting. Opportunities for working together to avoid such inefficiencies must be reexamined to ensure maximum effectiveness in targeting the nation's natural resources. EPA needs to take a lead role in establishing a national environmental strategic planning process and an implementation program to go with it.
Intra-agency partnerships can provide innovative approaches in establishing multi-media strategic for environmentally sensitive areas around the nation. Focusing on specific geographic regions will provide a practical means for the current structure of media-specific programs to integrate their resources and implementation. Such cooperative activity should yield long-term working relationships and reveal potential changes in organizational structure.
This action will result in the development of a draft strategic plan and will begin to provide the needed direction for fiscal year 1995 operating plans and the fiscal year 1996 budget formulation process. The broader participation of other federal agencies in setting goals will set the stage to develop integrated strategies and budgets for selected geographic areas of the country.
2. By April 1995, EPA should draft measurable environmental goals for the range of environmental problems the United States faces.
Development of these goals must be done in the context of long-term environmental and economic sustainability, with direct involvement by appropriate federal agencies, as well as broad-based discussions with states and the public.
3. EPA should develop performance measures for selected goals and strategies consistent with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA).
EPA should submit a proposal to OMB to be included as a GPRA pilot agency.
Although these proposals are broad in scope, they encompass a core issue that will determine the agency's overall success in establishing and addressing this country's environmental agenda in the future.
This proposal is cost-neutral. There are no additional costs above current operating costs. Imposed planning should reduce costs over the long term, but this impact cannot be estimated at this time.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has become increasingly reliant on contractors. Contract obligations have increased from $600 million in 1986 to approximately $1.4 billion in 1992. Currently, the agency has about 700 active contracts serving nearly all program areas, including information systems development, pesticide testing, and Superfund site clean-up.
Several reasons underlie this contractor dependence. The use of contractors has provided EPA with a wide array of specific technical expertise on a short-term basis, allowing the agency to forgo longterm hiring commitments. In addition, over the years, the agency has been more successful in getting dollars to hire contractors, than in getting dollars for employee salaries. Finally, the law sometimes encourages the use of contractors, as in the legislation governing Superfund site cleanup.
EPA has been subject to criticism because of inadequate oversight of its contractors. During the last four years, agency contract management practices have come under the scrutiny of numerous General Accounting Office and Inspector General reports, as well as several congressional hearings. EPA has long focused on its central missionenvironmental protection-and not on strong contract management, but the recent criticism is pushing the agency to carefully analyze its current methods and to target specific areas for major improvement. Contract management was declared a material weakness in the agency's December 1992 report on internal controls to the President, required by the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA).(1)
Improving contract management practices at EPA requires an analysis of several issues such as resources, contractor-client relations, and accountability. With respect to resources, EPA does not have enough personnel with the technical knowledge needed to adequately manage contractor performance. Since 1981, EPA's annual contract obligations increased by 237 percent in nominal terms, yet the agency's overall work force grew by only 25 percent during the same period.(2)
EPA is actively searching for opportunities to reallocate staff to contract management. In addition, EPA's Standing Committee on Contracts Management, formed to review the entire contracting process, made several recommendations in its June 1992 report. Of particular importance were the recommendations to highlight contract management in agency vacancy announcements and to place an emphasis on improving the quality of oversight resources currently in place. Doing more with less, however, can only go so far, and if EPA's responsibilities continue to multiply, it will have to match improvements in contract management with a commitment to shrink its dependence on outside help.
The use of so many contractors has engendered problematic ties between EPA and the non-governmental firms to which it turns for assistance. The transformation of a formal contractor-client relationship into the more informal interaction between employer and employee carries potential risks. Other problems exist when contractors have performed inherently governmental functions, such as payroll review. Incumbent firms may receive an unfair advantage when their contract comes up for renewal. Perhaps most serious is that agency oversight has become lax, leading to vague work instructions, nebulous lines of authority, and compromised individual responsibility. Such abuses have been documented, as in the March 31, 1992, Inspector General audit of EPA's relationship with the Computer Sciences Corporation.(3)
There is also the possibility of conflicts of interest. This issue has emerged frequently regarding the Superfund Program, where the delegation of cleanup duties to a firm implicated in the initial pollution raises concerns. In some instances contractors are being hired to clean up the pollution that they have created. The conflict of interest risk is particularly worrisome because current federal regulations require contractors to self-police, a process that does not adequately safeguard against abuse.
To improve contract management, EPA should pursue a multitiered approach. As a start, the agency's own Standing Committee has acted on five specific, complementary steps. These include:
(1) implementation of performance standards for contract management, complete with an awards program, to foster awareness and accountability throughout the agency;
(2) encouragement of better contract planning through new requirements for annual acquisition strategies;
(3) provision of written guidelines wherever possible to facilitate reliable contracting, such as in preparation of Independent Government Cost Estimates or in FMFIA assessments;
(4) assembly of a quality contracting team pilot composed of a Procuring Contracting Officer, an Administrative Contracting Officer, a Project Officer, an Office of General Counsel Representative, and any needed specialists, to monitor a contract from its inception to closeout;
(5) injection of more competition into the contracting process by awarding contracts to multiple vendors. This would guarantee a constant alternative to the incumbent and promote continuing competition to meet agency standards even after contract award.
These measures reappear in EPA's response to a March 1993 review of agency contract policy requested by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In that same response, EPA requested authority over its intramural-extramural budget distribution as a way of empowering the agency to reform its dealings with contractors.
Though the recommendations of both the Standing Committee and the OMB review should improve EPA contract management process, they leave some difficult issues unaddressed. Foremost among them may be the agency's fundamental high reliance on contractors, and the blurring it promotes between contractor and agency responsibilities. Without appropriate controls, training, and monitoring staff, it will be difficult to prevent abuses. Administrator Browner has begun to grapple with this quandary by ordering an independent analysis of the agency's use of intramural-extramural resources to determine, among other things, whether EPA's current distribution of dollars best serves its mission. Administrator Browner has also pledged to spearhead reform in agency culture by emphasizing that management and accountability will be cornerstones of her administration.
With respect to accountability, EPA has failed to hold both contractors and its own personnel accountable for fiscal and legal discrepancies. On the fiscal front, there have been blatant indirect cost abuses by contractors. Indirect costs, those charges not immediately related to specific work orders, include utilities, office rent, administrative salaries, health insurance costs, and an array of similar items. These expenses are generally stated as a percentage of direct labor. Certain costs--alcoholic beverages, for example, or customized chocolates imprinted with the company logo-- are unallowable. Inspector General audit reports disclosed just these violations by EPA contractor CH2M Hill in 1992.
The agency has also not held its personnel accountable to the legal requirements delineated by the Business Opportunity Development Reform Act of 1989. This legislation requires competition among 8(a) contractors for procurement with an estimated value above $3 million.(4) Recent Inspector General audits of EPA's Office of Research and Development laboratories have found instances where requirements were split and government cost estimates understated to stay under the $3 million threshold, thus avoiding competition.(5)
EPA has confronted these problems through several tacks. Many of the aforementioned recommendations of its Standing Committee have been implemented. The Committee's proposal to tighten indirect cost recovery with the assistance of OMB represents a more focused response, as does EPA's participation in the interagency contract management review. This effort, launched by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in the summer of 1992, challenged internal auditors in 12 civilian agencies to find unallowable expenses in contractor claims and to determine the frequency of negotiated settlements disallowing the costs. EPA's report to OFPP contained 41 agency-specific findings and 38 governmentwide--a total of 79 recommendations, which accounted for one-third of proposals received from all 12 organizations. Agency action on its internal findings is nearing completion. On a final front, Administrator Browner's initiatives, particularly her program to establish Senior Resource Officials (SROs) responsible for fiscal and ethical management, should substantially support her pledge to restore EPA accountability.(6)
The agency's tripartite response to its accountability deficit, based on proposals from the Standing Committee, interagency review team, and the Administrator, should lessen much of the abuse prevalent thus far, if these proposals are integrated and implemented. A familiar caveat remains, however, concerning EPA's long-term prognosis: if the agency's growing responsibilities are met with an increasing reliance on contractors, enforcing accountability will only become more of a challenge.
Contract management awareness and accountability should be strengthened through the agency performance standard and evaluation process. Individual performance standards for contract management should be one of several human resource management mechanisms that directly support the integration of resource management into the priorities and responsibilities of staff throughout the agency. Others include highlighting contract management in job announcements and position descriptions, providing better training opportunities, and promoting more definitive disciplinary and awards programs. Since so much of EPA's staff is involved in contract management, the human resource mechanisms are a primary means of ensuring accountability. Taken with other agency contract management improvements, these changes should be evaluated overall in terms of how the agency has improved its ability to manage contracts.
2. EPA should institutionalize the oversight recommendations of the Standing Committee, the OMB Review, and the Administrator by January 1995.
EPA should evaluate the success of the agency's quality contract team pilot to determine how well the contract was managed, costs were controlled, and goods and services were rendered. If the quality contract team proves to be more effective, EPA should begin implementing it throughout the agency by the end of fiscal year 1994, with the condition that all team members be inhouse agency personnel. EPA should supplement this program by placing the SROs advocated by Administrator Browner throughout the agency by the end of fiscal year 1994. EPA should ensure that each of the agency's 10 regional offices has at least one SRO, and this official should be held accountable for extramural resource management in the region.
3. EPA should maximize competition in the contracting process.
EPA should evaluate its pilot program to award multiple contracts with the same work statement to different vendors (a strategy that functions by farming out individual delivery orders and assignments to competing contractors). The contracts should be awarded by the end of the fiscal year 1994. At the midway point of the three-year contract, the agency should assess its effectiveness. If the pilot project is found to yield net savings when compared to the traditional practice of employing single contracts for a project's entirety, EPA should consider implementation by the end of fiscal year 1996.
4. OMB should provide EPA with more flexibility in determining the appropriate balance of extramural versus intramural resources.
EPA is currently conducting an independent analysis to identify this balance. Once an appropriate balance is identified, EPA should begin converting contractor dollars to regular staff to better achieve that balance. Conversion of contractor dollars to fulltime equivalent (FTE) positions will have to be accomplished within the context of the President's Executive Order to reduce federal employment. Additional FTEs may be obtained through the agency's efforts to streamline operations.
Better contract management and over-sight should result in significant contract dollar savings and improved contract services.
This proposal is cost-neutral. Additional FTEs needed to provide oversight and management of contract work that is currently done by contractors will be reassigned from units through agency streamlining efforts.
Environmental justice is not a new problem. It was first reported more than two decades ago. The problem of environmental justice did not receive national attention until 1982, however, when officials decided to locate a toxic chemical landfill in predominantly AfricanAmerican Warren County, North Carolina. Protests similar to those of the civil rights movements of the 1960s erupted. In response to these protests, the General Accounting Office (GAO) investigated, focusing on the socioeconomic and racial composition of communities surrounding the four major hazardous waste landfills in the South. GAO concluded that three of the four landfills were located in communities that were predominantly African-American.
Since then environmental justice has received more attention. A nationwide study in 1987 found that the proportion of minorities in communities that have a commercial hazardous waste facility is about double that in communities without such facilities. In 1990, the Michigan Conference on Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards was convened. In response to the Michigan conference's findings that no public policies were in place to require monitoring equity in the distribution of environmental quality, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a working group on environmental equity.
In a June 1992 report, the working group determined that there was a general lack of information concerning pollution and minority and low-income communities. There were indications of problems in siting and enforcement of pollution-generating activities in minority and low-income communities. The group concluded that EPA had no specific policy dealing with this issue. In response, EPA established the Office of Environmental Equity to focus on three major areas: education and outreach; community and economic development; and technical and financial assistance to community groups. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), adopted in 1970, sets forth an environmental policy for the nation. Specifically, NEPA states that:
. . . it is the continuing policy of the federal government, in cooperation with State and local governments, and other concerned public and private organizations, to use all practicable means and measures, including financial and technical assistance, in a manner calculated to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.(1)
In her statement before the House Government Operations Committee on May 6, 1993, Administrator Browner affirmed the need to address environmental justice:
. . . as we undertake programs to reduce risks, we must explicitly recognize the ethnic, economic, and cultural makeup of the people we are trying to protect. We now believe that people of color and low income are disproportionately affected by some environmental risks: the risk of living near landfills, municipal waste combustors, or hazardous waste sites; the risks posed by lead or asbestos in old, poorly maintained housing; the risk of exposure to pesticides in farm fields; and the risk of eating contaminated fish when fish is a mainstay of their diet.(2)
There are large environmentally related health costs and other concerns associated with minority workers and low-income communities. For example, studies have shown that migrant farm workers suffer from neurological disorders, cancer, and birth defects at a higher rate than the normal population. Another example is exposure to lead. EPA has stated that lead in paint and lead dust are major causes of poisoning in young children. Although there have been no definitive studies on the overall health costs to minority workers and lowincome communities, there is general agreement that related health care costs could be quite high. While minority and low-income communities inordinately suffer the effects of environmental hazards, all U.S. taxpayers asorb the additional health costs incurred.
Administrator Browner has made environmental equity a key policy theme in her administration. The President's fiscal year 1994 budget contains an additional $15 million to address lead paint hazards, a particular hazard for minority children. The administrator has moved to establish an interagency group to address environmental justice issues across all federal agencies. EPA is working with federal health agencies to strengthen the scientific and health effects data related to communities of color and those of low income, and EPA has initiated three environmental justice projects with the Department of Justice, one of which will be used to establish enforcement priorities.
Congress has also shown a strong interest in environmental justice. In pending EPA cabinet legislation-- H.R. 3425, introduced by Representative Conyers (D-MI)-- there are numerous provisions regarding environmental justice. In May 1993, Representative Lewis (D-GA) introduced H.R. 2105, the Environmental Justice Act of 1993. This bill would require EPA to publish a list of geographic areas with the highest amounts of toxic chemicals. It would require EPA to inspect all toxic chemical facilities operating in Environmentally High Impact Areas (EHIAs) and impose a moratorium on the siting of new chemical facilities in EHIAs. On June 24, 1993, Senator Baucus introduced Senate Bill 1161, the Environmental Justice Act of 1993, which generally parallels the House bill.
While the environmental justice movement gains momentum, a new awareness permeates the environmental community. There exist differing views on prioritizing efforts. EPA is taking action, and more needs to be done.
Environmental justice will be fully reflected in EPA actions only if it is regularly considered in operational and policy decisions. This would include rulemaking, permitting, data collection, siting of projects and facilities, enforcement, education, and outreach. EPA must also continue its efforts to develop a more culturally and racially diverse workforce. EPA should ensure that all programs receiving federal assistance give assurances that environmental justice issues are appropriately addressed and that all activities subject to EPA oversight abide by the same environmental justice considerations as EPA does. The agency should take a lead role in establishing interagency cooperation on environmental justice issues.
2. EPA should prepare an annual report providing analysis of the progress it has made regarding environmental justice and should develop appropriate remedies for communities that have suffered environmental injustice.
Other actions could include liaison with states and other federal agencies and could emphasize that environmental justice is a shared responsibility of all federal agencies and, ultimately, state, local, and tribal governments. Emphasis could be placed on assessing the environmental impact statements' discussion of socioeconomic considerations apparently missing in some decisions.
Pending legislation to elevate EPA to Cabinet status, proposed environmental justice legislation, and a proposed environmental justice Executive Order will significantly affect this program. The environmental justice movement is gaining momentum. Proposed environmental justice legislation and the expected Executive Order will require some actions, facilitate other actions, and encourage other behaviors.
This proposal is cost-neutral. EPA would need an additional five employees to carry out the proposed environmental justice activities. This additional staff will be allocated from existing personnel. It is reasonable to expect some long-term reduction in health costs in low-income and minority communities as the environmental quality of their communities improves; however, this impact cannot be estimated at this time.
Rulemaking and other policy decisions at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) almost invariably rely on science, with the nature and extent of that reliance varying considerably from one instance to another. But one factor is constant: quality must be a first-order concern in deciding what scientific information is relevant, how it is presented, and how it is used. Quality science includes the following characteristics: clear identification and prioritization of the most important scientific questions to be addressed; identification and use of the most appropriate and powerful experimental and analytical designs; employment of state-of-the-art experimental techniques; accurate measurements; validation and independent review processes; and recruitment, retention, and reward of high-quality scientific personnel.
Regulatory and research science at EPA is performed in its 12 research and development laboratories, its 23 regional and program office laboratories, and its program and policy offices. Many contributions made by EPA scientists are widely respected by the research community. For example, its analytical methods, predictive models, and risk-assessment guidelines are used as standards by other agencies, nationally and abroad.
Nonetheless, the role of science in EPA policies, decisions, and actions is much less prominent than it should be. A recent EPAsponsored study noted that EPA is seen as distorting scientific analysis to make them fit its policies.(1) The study recommendations called for increased use of peer review, expanded inhouse research capabilities, and establishment of risk-based priorities for research and development (R&D). A subsequent study reinforced these ideas and called specifically for consolidation of laboratories to achieve a stronger programmatic focus in selected areas.(2)
EPA must begin to focus its energies and resources in five key areas if it is to bring its domestic recognition to the same high level the agency enjoys internationally, as a science agency as well as a regulatory agency. The first is in the recruiting, nurturing, and development of its entry-level scientific staff. There is currently a highly skilled, well-recognized scientific workforce in the Office of Research and Development that is nearing retirement and will need replacing, due to FTE limitations. EPA has not previously demonstrated capabilities in this area. Scientific and technical factors often receive insufficient weight in developing job descriptions, setting performance standards, designing training programs and career-development opportunities, creating career ladders, and rewarding achievement.
Second is peer review, quality assurance, and quality control. Regulatory decisions are most likely to be cost-effective if they are based on risk assessments or other technical work-products that embody state-of-the-art scientific principles, models, and data. One important procedure for obtaining such high-quality products is peer review- that is, independent reviews by unbiased subject-matter experts. Another key procedure is to require that the underlying data be gathered in accordance with strict quality-assurance guidelines. Although such procedures exist within EPA, they are not consistently used. Historically, policy decisions have often lacked credibility because they were based on work-products that either were obviously flawed or lacked the endorsement of outside experts. As a consequence, EPA regulatory decisions have been frequently perceived by Congress, the Office of Management and Budget and other federal agencies, industry, or the public as unsound.
Third, good laboratory systems are necessary to maintain quality science. Scientists cannot be effective without a quality infrastructure for all EPA laboratories. This includes state-of-theart facilities and instrumentation, well-equipped libraries, highperformance computing and telecommunications resources, and a responsive procurement and budgeting system. Moreover, if policymakers are to benefit from improvements to the science base, more strategically focused investment in R&D is imperative. Recent studies have noted that the R&D effort at EPA is neither large enough nor focused enough to meet the mission requirements.
A fourth area necessary to sustain quality science is administrative oversight for R&D. Reductions in science and engineering career positions in recent years not only have fostered undue dependence on contractors but also have encumbered EPA scientists with new contract management duties-thereby shifting their focus and their talents toward administration and away from what they do best. Moreover, laboratory scientists are unnecessarily encumbered by inflexible budgets and the fact that job positions and contract dollars are not interchangeable.
Finally, communication and coordination between EPA policymakers and scientific staff are too fragmented to be effective. For example, inadequate coordination among programs and the laboratories has led to science being practiced in isolation and with no apparent impact on the research agendas of other agencies.
EPA should review and evaluate best practices of other federal science agencies for example, the National Institutes of Health, which have made progress in developing successful personnel systems and tenure tracks for scientific and technical employees.
2. EPA should expand the use of peer review and quality-assurance procedures to promote excellence in science.
Through specific policy guidance from the Office of the Administrator, existing procedures for peer review and quality assurance would be integrated further into EPA programs.
3. The EPA Administrator should assess the organizational effectiveness and appropriate structures of EPA's laboratories.
The President's budget request for fiscal 1994 includes funds for a study to address research needs and to identify options for making EPA's research more efficient. As a part of the study, EPA should also identify management and administrative processes that can be streamlined.
4. EPA should develop a plan to integrate opportunities for increased scientific communications within and outside EPA.
Through increased use of workshops, temporary reassignments, and other methods, EPA scientists would gain more opportunities to stay current with the advances in environmental science and its applications. In this way, EPA can better keep congressional staff, members of the news media, and the general public informed about the state of the environment and implications of the latest research findings.
Improvements in the quality of science at EPA will result in renewed credibility and stature for EPA's scientists. In addition, regulatory decisionmaking will be based on optimal scientific analysis.
There are no additional costs associated with this issue.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement program is responsible for bringing parties who are violating the nation's environmental laws into compliance, preparing and litigating cases against these parties, and helping to forge effective responses to harmful environmental conditions. Reorganization of EPA's enforcement operation represents an excellent opportunity to achieve efficiencies in government.
In the early 1980's, EPA reassigned and separated its enforcement responsibilities. EPA placed the environmental compliance engineering and inspections staff, which provides the technical expertise necessary to ascertain whether a source is in violation, into the individual media-specific program offices (Air, Water, Solid Waste, and Toxics). In addition, EPA placed the legal enforcement staff into a separate Office of Enforcement (OE). The regional enforcement divisions were abolished. This decentralized and limited the coordination and management of environmental enforcement within the agency.
The organizational structure created in 1981 continues to define the shape of EPA enforcement today. Presently, there is no centralized authority vested in any one Assistant Administrator for targeting, priority setting, and development and management of enforcement resources. In fact, enforcement priority setting is currently shared by five assistant administrators and 10 regional administrators.
As a result, enforcement has not been a sufficiently high priority for any of the program offices at EPA headquarters, which have conflicting priorities such as permitting and regulation development. In addition, persons at all levels of the agency must be tied into protracted and frequently repetitious consultations over enforcement priorities and implementation plans. For example, the development of a single enforcement initiative typically involves extensive discussion with six different EPA program offices. This situation is not only frustrating to personnel within EPA, but recently caused the Department of Justice's Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources to ask for a single point of contact at EPA for enforcement issues.
In addition, the present system adversely affects EPA's ability to address multi-media environmental problems (those affecting more than just one medium, such as air, water, or land). Specifically, it is difficult to develop comprehensive enforcement responses to facilities that are in violation of more than one federal statute. The current enforcement structure has thwarted EPA's ability to implement multi-media enforcement, a top priority of the Clinton Administration.
The current structure also results in parallel and often duplicative processes. For example, each case and policy matter typically undergoes parallel review and analysis up through the office director level in both OE and in related program offices. In the event of disagreement, ultimately only the Administrator and the Deputy Administrator are empowered to resolve these enforcement disputes. Recently, it took more than nine months and the personal involvement of the Administrator to resolve a disagreement among the Assistant Administrator for Water, a Regional Administrator, and the Assistant Administrator for Enforcement concerning the proper enforcement response to a violation of the wetlands regulations.
In addition to being inherently inefficient, this system promotes "forum-shopping"-- choosing a media-specific program office that will give the desired result. By going directly to a program office to discuss an enforcement issue, outside parties (including regulated sources) can effectively try to play one EPA office against another.
Simply stated, there is no single enforcement voice in the agency. This results in a de-emphasis on enforcement, high transaction costs, duplication of effort, and an inability to effectively pursue multimedia enforcement. This problem needs to be rectified.
On July 22, 1993, in connection with the National Performance Review effort, Administrator Browner announced that she intends to consolidate and reorganize EPA's enforcement resources at headquarters. To implement this, she has created a task force, which is developing a plan for implementation by October 1993. A consolidated structure will eliminate duplicative review chains, force issues to final resolution much lower in the management chain, and eliminate forum-shopping. Reorganizing headquarters enforcement will improve EPA's effectiveness.
EPA should implement the Administrator's headquarters enforcement reorganization proposal.
This would bring the various EPA enforcement operations together under the Office of the Assistant Administrator for Enforcement. Within one year, it is anticipated that a reorganized OE should:
eliminate duplication of effort, thereby maximizing the government's environmental enforcement efforts;
restore accountability to a presently fractured system;
provide a single voice on national environmental enforcement priorities, thereby eliminating mixed and conflicting signals between headquarters, the regional offices, and the states;
position the agency to respond to cutting-edge issues and vulnerabilities, such as environmental justice, multi-media enforcement capacity, penalty practice, measuring program success, and enforcement data integration; and
enhance agency efficiency and promote cost effectiveness.
In a time of flat or declining resources and a nearly unmanageable case docket, EPA can no longer afford the inefficiencies of the current organizational framework for enforcement. Reorganization would enable EPA's OE to more effectively identify and respond to national environmental problems, including targeting companies that consistently violate the law, addressing sources that are responsible for ecosystem destruction, and addressing pollution problems that affect minority and low-income populations. A reorganization will demonstrate the administration's commitment to eliminate duplication and waste in the federal government and will leave EPA's enforcement apparatus stronger and more responsive to the priorities of this administration.
This issue will require no new expenditures. Reorganization will produce a net savings by streamlining enforcement operations, and result in a total savings of 138 workyears over the period of FY 1997 through FY 1999. It is assumed that dollar savings will be reprogrammed to increase compliance monitoring, inspection, legal enforcement, and other activities in EPA.
Budget Authority (BA) and Outlays (Dollars in Millions)
1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Total ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BA 0.0 0.0 0.0 -3.5 -3.5 -3.5 -10.
Outlays 0.0 0.0 0.0 -3.3 -3.5 -3.5 -10.3
Change 0 0 0 -46 -46 -46 -138 in FTEs
After President Clinton's March 3, 1993, directive on reinventing the government, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moved quickly to capture the spirit of reform in an internal reinvention effort. Administrator Browner committed more than 450 full-time employees from across the agency to EPA's National Performance Review Team (NPRT).
In planning a new EPA, the Administrator charged NPRT to focus on the principles of the governmentwide reinvention drive. The EPA's review thus emphasized four themes: cutting red tape, putting customers first, empowering employees to get results, and cutting back to basics. These themes yielded specific proposals that should fundamentally change the way EPA pursues its mission.
To facilitate such fundamental change, NPRT directed a variety of initiatives to generate involvement and activism throughout the agency. The Administrator herself encouraged all employees to submit ideas for improvement, and in addition, NPRT reviewed countless responses to questionnaires designed to solicit comments from EPA personnel, business interests, and local communities. The team likewise combed through records of past seminars, conferences, and reports for worthy recommendations lost or ignored.
To promote more hands-on participation, NPRT sponsored forums at several levels. The Administrator held a town meeting with Vice President Gore that covered agencywide concerns ranging from procurement to hiring to enforcement. Focus groups provided opportunities for more extensive discussions, as program specialists and managers from throughout EPA met with relevant NPRT personnel to flesh out their suggestions. EPA's internal review team remains committed to discussing the recommendations that emerge from its cumulative analysis with all parties that have contributed input.
To create a new EPA, its review effort established an array of teams. While each assumed a specific, defined role, together they formed an interdisciplinary force. The Senior Leadership Council consisted of EPA's top political and career executives. This group, which will remain active through the entire course of the reinvention program, advised the Administrator on NPR planning and implementation.
The Process and Policy Teams, consisting of 19 groups in total, drew members from all employee grade levels and all agency branches-- headquarters, regional offices, program centers, and laboratories. With sizes ranging from 18 to 25 people, the groups were charged with developing in-depth reports on specific topic areas. The topics included:
Awards/Recognition Workforce Capacity
Extramural Resource Management
Internal Communications Workforce Diversity
Planning and Budgeting
The Leadership Team, consisting of about 20 employees from all agency levels, provided direction and guidance to the process and policy teams. In addition, it assumed responsibility for those cross-cutting issues that lay outside the domain of individual parties.
Finally, the Quality Advisory Group offered consultation, facilitation, and logistical support to all other NPRT components, in particular the Senior Leadership Council.
EPA's internal review identified several principles it should instill, wherever possible, to better fulfill its mission. First, the organization must commit to performance measurement. EPA has already made progress here--Administrator Browner recently accepted the recommendation of an earlier EPA improvement team to establish environmental goals that will provide the American people with very real means to gauge EPA performance. NPRT's findings indicate a need to continue in this positive direction.
The agency must likewise devote itself to reinvigorated customer service. In the coming months, EPA will implement a comprehensive outreach at the Administrator's behest to strengthen ties with its constituents state and local governments, private sector organizations, and the general public. Their input will yield the best concrete plans to boost customer satisfaction.
Improving relations with outside sources must include a drive to empower partners. By decentralizing its programs and regulations, injecting competition wherever applicable, and exerting leverage on market forces, EPA can create openings for collaboration with the larger community focused on environmental protection. Working together, each accomplishes more.
EPA is already implementing several recommendations reshaping its environmental goals and regulatory process.
Administrator Browner recognizes that genuine change depends not just on policy actions but on the culture underlying them. To realize the agency's new vision, the Administrator and her management team will not only lead implementation of the present proposals, but will also ensure that the EPA continues its employee outreach efforts. Public forums, surveys, and focus groups will become agency mainstays. EPA has established an NPR implementation steering committee made up of senior management and members from EPA's internal NPR team. This group will provide a focal point for future suggestions and a means to guarantee monitoring and accountability as well. EPA will continue to reinvent itself even as it comes closer still to fulfilling its mission.
Change in Recommendations 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Total FTEs ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ EPA01: na na na na na na na na
EPA02: 0.0 0.0 0.0 -7.5 -7.5 -7.5 -22.5 -150
EPA03: cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe
EPA04: cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe
EPA05: na na na na na na na na
EPA06: na na na na na na na na
EPA07: na na na na na na na na
EPA08: cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe
EPA09: na na na na na na na na
EPA10: na na na na na na na na
EPA11: 0.0 0.0 0.0 -3.3 -3.5 -3.5 -10.5 -138 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Total EPA 0.0 0.0 0.0 -11.0 -11.0 -11.0 -33.0 -288
cbe = Cannot be estimated (due to data limitations or uncertainties about implementation timelines).
na= Not applicable (recommendation improves efficiency or redirects resources but does not directly reduce budget authority).
Recommendations 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Total ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ EPA01: na na na na na na na
EPA02: 0.0 0.0 0.0 -4.0 -7.5 -7.5 -19.0
EPA03: cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe
EPA04: cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe
EPA05: na na na na na na na
EPA06: na na na na na na na
EPA07: na na na na na na na
EPA08: cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe cbe
EPA09: na na na na na na na
EPA10: na na na na na na na
EPA11: 0.0 0.0 0.0 -3.3 -3.5 -3.5 -10.3 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Total EPA 0.0 0.0 0.0 -7.3 -11.0 -11.0 -29.3
cbe = Cannot be estimated (due to data limitations or uncertainties about implementation timelines).
na = Not applicable (recommendation improves efficiency or redirects resources but does not directly reduce outlays).
Accompanying Reports of the National Performance Review
Governmental Systems Abbr. ******************** ****
Changing Internal Culture
Creating Quality Leadership and Management QUAL
Streamlining Management Control SMC
Transforming Organizational Structures ORG
Improving Customer Service ICS
Reinventing Processes and Systems
Mission-Driven, Results-Oriented Budgeting BGT
Improving Financial Management FM
Reinventing Human Resource Management HRM
Reinventing Federal Procurement PROC
Reinventing Support Services SUP
Reengineering Through Information Technology IT
Rethinking Program Design DES
Restructuring the Federal Role
Strengthening the Partnership in
Intergovernmental Service Delivery FSL
Reinventing Environmental Management ENV
Improving Regulatory Systems REG
Agencies and Departments Abbr. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^ Agency for International Development AID Department of Agriculture USDA Department of Commerce DOC Department of Defense DOD Department of Education ED Department of Energy DOE Environmental Protection Agency EPA Executive Office of the President EOP Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA General Services Administration GSA Department of Health and Human Services HHS Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD Intelligence Community INTEL Department of the Interior DOI Department of Justice DOJ Department of Labor DOL National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA
National Science Foundation/Office of Science and Technology Policy NSF
Office of Personnel Management OPM
Small Business Administration SBA
Department of State/ U.S. Information Agency DOS
Department of Transportation DOT
Department of the Treasury/
Resolution Trust Corporation TRE
Department of Veterans Affairs DVA