U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials reported challenges in planning for and minimizing the effects of sequestration on agency staff and programs. For example, EPA officials reported that the structure of the agency’s programs, projects, and activities (PPAs) created planning challenges because certain PPAs were made up almost entirely of salaries while others largely represented funding provided to state and tribal governments to implement environmental programs. In addition, EPA had reduced appropriations for fiscal year 2013 that resulted in a funding level below the fiscal year 2012 enacted level for almost all of EPA’s accounts. Consequently, although EPA limited hiring and travel, among other actions, it furloughed nearly all of its employees for 47 hours and reduced funding for its state and tribal partners by over $200 million. EPA officials stated that, as a result of sequestration in fiscal year 2013, EPA generally did less of what it planned to do. For example, it eliminated over 100 water quality protection and restoration projects and conducted 2,600 fewer underground storage tank inspections. EPA took these actions rather than canceling significant aspects of its work. Officials said over the long term it will be difficult to determine sequestration’s effects on the agency’s programs and goals because it is challenging to separate those effects from other budget constraints.