• Watchdog Can’t Verify EPA Grant Performance Claims

    Nearly half of all reported reductions in pollution through a key Environmental Protection Agency grant program cannot be verified, according to a federal watchdog.

    “The EPA is unable to determine the extent to which P2 grants achieve pollution prevention goals because the agency lacks controls to ensure that the results from the grants are reported accurately and consistently across EPA regions,” the EPA Inspector General said in a report made public Friday.

    “We also found the rationale for revisions in reported results made by headquarters were not adequately documented. Due to the reporting errors and lack of documentation, the reported results could not be reconciled,” the report said.

    The EPA has awarded more than $122 million in P2 grants, which are intended to “support pollution prevention activities and develop state pollution prevention programs.” The report released Friday echoes the findings of a 2009 IG report, even though EPA officials fully implemented all of the earlier recommendations to fix the problem.

    Among the goals of the P2 grants are achieving reductions in greenhouse gases officially associated with global warming, toxic and hazardous materials, resource conservation and business efficiency.

    The P2 grant program is one of dozens managed by EPA and designed to prevent and reduce pollution, but the report covered only the one program and did not say if similar problems were found in the others.

    The basic problems described by the EPA IG in 2009 and 2015 are big differences in how the agency’s regional officials report the results of P2 grants to headquarters executives, and huge changes in the data made by the latter that often cannot be documented.

    “In the regions we visited, we found 58 errors out of 128 (45 percent error rate) of the fiscal years 2011 and 2012 performance metrics reported from the regions to headquarters,” according to the report.

    Ensuring the credibility of the claimed pollution reductions is essential because “the results generated from the P2 grants are used by the agency to report achievements in pollution prevention, and make up part of the agency’s performance measures used for budget decisions and the public’s review,” the report said.

    “The EPA is unable to determine the extent to which P2 grants achieve pollution prevention goals because the agency lacks controls to ensure that results from grants are reported accurately and consistently across regions.

    “Some reported results were inaccurate based on extensive revisions EPA made and we discovered during our review. These inaccuracies and lack of management controls weaken confidence that the agency’s pollution prevention goals have been achieved as represented.”

    Go here to read the full report.

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