In April 2019, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified 17 priority recommendations for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since then, EPA has implemented three of those recommendations by, among other things, taking actions to assess established timeframes for each step in the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) process and publish current information about chemicals being assessed.
In April 2020, GAO identified seven additional priority recommendations for EPA, bringing the total number to 21. These recommendations involve the following areas:
- Assessing and controlling toxic chemicals.
- Reducing pollution in the nation’s waters.
- Ensuring cybersecurity at EPA.
- Addressing data, funding, and cybersecurity issues for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
- Managing climate change risks.
GAO made several recommendations to GAO in October 2019, which the agency disagrees with and have therefore not been met. These relate to the potentially harmful effects of climate change on human health and the environment.
EPA said that its existing processes adequately ensure that climate change risks are woven into risk assessments and risk response decisions. However, GAO maintains it does not include any measures related to climate change or discuss strategies for addressing the impacts of climate change effects. In addition, EPA’s direction on risk assessments and risk response decisions does not address all types of cleanup actions or climate change effects.