Natural Resources and Environment:

Information on the Environmental Protection Agency's Actual and Proposed Funding for Enforcement Activities for Fiscal Years 2001 through 2003

GAO-02-1096R: Published: Sep 27, 2002. Publicly Released: Oct 8, 2002.

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GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposal to reduce the number of full-time employees from its enforcement budget for compliance monitoring and civil enforcement activities to evaluate EPA's statements that (1) the jobs being eliminated are ones that EPA has allowed to lapse or has been unable to fill and (2) the reductions will be managed through normal attrition, without any loss of enforcement expertise and without shifting staff to nonenforcement functions. GAO found that EPA received a total of 1,464.8 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions for civil enforcement and compliance-monitoring functions under its Environmental Program and Management appropriation. EPA's fiscal year 2001 operating plan included full funding for the FTE positions provided for civil enforcement and compliance-monitoring activities. According to Office of Compliance and Enforcement (OECA) officials, the agency had no specific plans to leave vacancies open in anticipation of planned reductions in the workforce for compliance monitoring and civil enforcement. According to EPA officials, the agency does not assume or use any attrition rate in developing its annual budget. Instead, EPA establishes FTE ceilings for each of its program offices, which are expected to manage their resources according to their ceiling. EPA officials stated that EPA's fiscal year 2002 proposed operating plan did not restore 121.8 FTE positions for civil enforcement and compliance monitoring that had been available during fiscal year 2001. Under its fiscal year 2001 budget, OECA received $30,465,100 for its contracting activities and has requested $26,487,200 for fiscal year 2003. For fiscal year 2002, EPA anticipates that it will spend 50 FTE for OECA's counterterrorism activities. OECA has developed a draft Human Capital Strategy but has not performed the workload study GAO recommended in a prior report. However, OECA has been working with EPA's human resources office, in a pilot effort, to develop a methodology for a workforce assessment.

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