Transportation Safety

Information Strategy Needed for Hazardous Materials Gao ID: IMTEC-91-50 September 25, 1991

Information plays a critical role in the Department of Transportation's (DOT) regulation of hundreds of thousands of shippers, carriers, and container manufacturers handling hazardous materials. However, previous studies by GAO and others have noted that DOT lacks accurate, complete data to monitor this vast community. Department progress in improving this situation has been slow; two initiatives to improve DOT's information management of inspection and enforcement activities have floundered. As a result, DOT cannot use information to evaluate effectively improvements in safety accruing from its inspection and enforcement activities or support Departmentwide hazardous waste enforcement activities. Information resources management strategies are designed to identify ways in which information and technology can be used to support effectively missions needs. Without such a strategy, DOT will have a hard time applying information technology Departmentwide and in resolving longstanding information shortcomings.

GAO found that: (1) DOT lacks accurate, complete data to monitor the vast HAZMAT community, and better support its enforcement activities involving HAZMAT shippers and carriers; (2) despite DOT recognition of a need for better HAZMAT information, its two attempts to improve hazardous materials information management were unsuccessful; and (3) the absence of clearly defined departmental HAZMAT information management responsibilities impaired DOT ability to effectively organize, direct, or implement its departmentwide information resources management (IRM) efforts.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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