Federal Water Resources Agencies Should Assess Less Costly Ways To Comply With Regulations

Gao ID: CED-81-36 February 17, 1981

The rapid growth of government regulations, coupled with recent economic difficulties facing the nation, has heightened public concern over regulatory costs and burdens. The President has ordered agencies which write regulations to evaluate their economic impact.

Many social and environmental regulations have a major impact on the costs, competition, and the administration of federal water resources projects. Agencies and contractors have major compliance responsibilities during construction, and both are concerned with the cost and burden of regulations, especially the cumulative impact. GAO interviewed construction officials about their concerns in several regulatory areas and studied compliance practices in the areas of fish and wildlife conservation, cultural properties protection, and employment of women in construction. Construction officials were concerned about the cumulative cost and burden of regulations, the lack of consideration of economic impacts, and coordination difficulties. The case studies showed that, when agencies planned projects, they did not develop enough information on costs, burdens, and benefits to evaluate alternatives. Contractors had insufficient knowledge and advice in the area of regulation compliance. Time factors prevented agencies from developing more information on alternatives.


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