Environmental Protection

Issues Facing the Energy and Defense Environmental Management Programs Gao ID: T-RCED/NSIAD-96-127 March 21, 1996

The Energy Department (DOE) has tried in recent years to make its nuclear weapons complex cleanup more cost effective. Similarly, cleanup costs have been an issue at the Defense Department (DOD), but the cleanup effort is part of a larger attempt to control the cost of environmental compliance now, while minimizing contamination and related costs in the future. At DOD, environmental compliance activities have overtaken cleanup as the major annual cost. With regard to DOE's cleanup effort, this testimony discusses (1) how the administration of basic laws governing cleanup of the weapons complex affects costs, (2) how to cut DOE's costs, (3) which issues Congress should consider regarding DOE privatization of its cleanup, and (4) how excess carryover balances could be used to fund DOE's cleanup. GAO discusses (1) DOD's use of relative risk as a major factor in ranking individual cleanup sites and (2) how DOD priorities, plans, and budgets for its environmental compliance program.

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