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E-M:/ FW: Today's GAO Reports - May 22, 2002

Enviro-Mich message from "Kostas Alexandridis" <alexa191@msu.edu>

A GAO Report that might be of interest. It is a report produced after a
Congressional Request from GAO.

I am posting here a quote from their results:

"Results in Brief: As of April 2002, none of the 26 contaminated areas
in the Great Lakes Basin for which the United States is responsible had
completed all three stages of the RAP process and been restored to
beneficial use. Currently, all of the areas have defined their
respective environmental problems (stage 1), but only approximately half
of the areas selected remedial and regulatory measures to address these
problems (stage 2). The slow progress of cleanup efforts reflects a
general departure from the RAP process specified in the agreement. In a
few areas, the state or local groups continue to follow the RAP process,
although the ultimate remediation of the contaminated areas remains
uncertain. In some areas, citizen advisory councils developed
alternative cleanup plans that completely abandoned the RAP process.
According to state and local officials, the councils abandoned the
process because they lacked the technical expertise or financial
resources to implement the RAPs. In other areas, the states or citizen
groups assumed responsibility for the RAPs, modifying the process to
conform to each area's particular circumstances. Several areas forged
ahead to address some of their environmental problems, with successes
realized through other federal program activity, such as Superfund, or
funding from state or nonprofit sources. EPA is not effectively
fulfilling the nation's responsibility under the Great Lakes Water
Quality Agreement of 1978 to ensure that RAPs are developed and
implemented in the contaminated areas. Even though EPA has been charged
with leading the effort to meet the goals of the agreement, it has not
clearly delineated responsibility for oversight of RAPs within the
agency, and, citing resource constraints and the need to tend to other
Great Lakes priorities, reduced its staff and the amount of funding it
allocates to states for the purpose of RAP development and
implementation. For example, in 1992, EPA transferred the oversight
responsibility for RAPs from GLNPO to the  agency's regional offices,
which it believed to be more familiar with funding and managing such
programs. The regional offices provided initial support and oversight
for the RAP process, but then significantly reduced the number of
assigned staff and the amount of federally allocated funds devoted to
RAP development and implementation. Now, no EPA office claims
responsibility for overseeing this effort. Moreover, reductions in staff
and funding limited the number of areas that EPA can effectively
monitor. According to EPA officials, the agency reduced its support for
RAPs under the assumption that states would continue to fund the RAP
efforts. Instead, the states followed EPA's lead and reduced their
support as well. Subsequently, EPA shifted its attention to other
priorities in the Great Lakes Basin that are required under the
agreement. We are recommending that the EPA administrator clarify which
office within EPA is directly responsible for ensuring the
implementation of RAPs and identify the actions, time periods, and
resources needed to help EPA fulfill its RAP oversight
responsibilities." GAO-02-567 (May 17, 2002).

Following is the website where you can download the entire report.

Thank you,

Kostas Alexandridis.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) today released the following


2. Great Lakes:  EPA Needs to Define Organizational Responsibilities
Better for Effective Oversight and Cleanup of Contaminated Areas.
GAO-02-563, May 17. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-02-563

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