Environmental Enforcement

EPA Needs a Better Strategy to Manage Its Cross-Media Information Gao ID: IMTEC-92-14 April 2, 1992

Deficiencies in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) information systems are impeding its ability to enforce environmental laws and regulations. EPA cannot readily bring together and correlate data from its various programs--such as hazardous waste or pesticides--to assess environmental risks comprehensively and target the most important enforcement efforts. Two key information systems fall short in helping EPA share and integrate data. In addition, the data suffer from problems with completeness, accuracy, and timeliness. These shortcomings are likely to persist unless the agency develops an information management strategy that directly addresses the need for better integrating the program offices' data and systems.

GAO found that: (1) the methods used to develop the EPA Integrated Data for Enforcement Analysis (IDEA) phase one and the redesigned Facility Index System (FINDS) are not sound or fully consistent with federal guidance or EPA systems development policies and procedures; (2) EPA has not adequately documented the about 150,000 lines of instructions in the IDEA phase one software as the Federal Information Processing Standards require, and has deployed IDEA phase one without a test plan or adequately testing the system; (3) EPA did not specify users' requirements with respect to data accuracy, completeness, or timeliness in its FINDS redesign efforts, and did not adequately budget for the maintenance of the redesigned FINDS software; (4) EPA has demonstrated leadership in making the cross-media mission a high-priority management area, but EPA lacks a complete information resources management (IRM) strategy to achieve its mission; (5) the EPA cross-media IRM strategy lacks effective management mechanisms to plan, coordinate, and budget for cross-media IRM activities and lacks an agencywide information systems architecture and effective cross-media data management; and (6) until EPA completes its cross-media IRM strategy and develops the information systems needed to support its cross-media mission, it will not achieve its vision of protecting human health and the environment through more effective cross-media enforcement and agencywide assessment of risks and prevention of pollution.


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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