oversight

Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident: EPA's Cleanup Was Successful; Opportunities Exist to Enhance Contract Oversight

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-06-04.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

             United States General Accounting Office

GAO          Report to the Chairman, Committee on
             Finance, U.S. Senate



June 2003
             CAPITOL HILL
             ANTHRAX INCIDENT
             EPA's Cleanup Was
             Successful;
             Opportunities Exist to
             Enhance Contract
             Oversight




GAO-03-686
                                               June 2003


                                               CAPITOL HILL ANTHRAX INCIDENT

                                               EPA's Cleanup Was Successful;
Highlights of GAO-03-686, a report to the      Opportunities Exist to Enhance Contract
Chairman, Committee on Finance, U.S.
Senate                                         Oversight



In September and October 2001,                 EPA spent about $27 million on the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup, using funds
the first cases of anthrax                     from its Superfund program. From the outset, many uncertainties were
bioterrorism occurred in the United            associated with the cleanup effort, including how to remove anthrax from
States when letters containing                 buildings. EPA revised its November 2001 estimate of $5 million several
anthrax were mailed to                         times during the cleanup as the nature and extent of the contamination
congressional leaders and
members of the news media. As the
                                               became fully known and the solutions to remove and properly dispose of the
cleanup of the Capitol Hill anthrax            anthrax were agreed upon and carried out. To conduct the cleanup, EPA
site progressed, EPA’s estimates of            relied extensively on the existing competitively awarded Superfund
the cleanup costs steadily rose.               contracts it routinely uses to address threats posed by the release of
GAO was asked to describe (1) the              hazardous substances. Specifically, about 80 percent of the contract costs
costs EPA incurred to conduct the              were incurred under 10 of EPA’s existing Superfund contracts.
cleanup and how it was funded, (2)
the extent to which EPA awarded                EPA dedicated significant resources to overseeing the many contractors
the cleanup contracts                          working on the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup—including about 50 staff from
competitively, (3) EPA’s oversight             nine regional offices experienced in leading and overseeing emergency
of the contractors’ work and any               environmental cleanups. Most often, these staff ensured that the contractors
suggested changes to EPA’s
contracting practices, and (4) the
                                               were on site and performing assigned tasks efficiently. EPA also assigned an
extent to which EPA agreed to                  administrative specialist to ensure that contract charges were accurate and
indemnify contractors against                  reasonable. EPA’s assessment of its emergency responses to the anthrax
liability for potential damages                incidents, which focused on or included the Capitol Hill site, concluded that,
related to the cleanup.                        overall, the agency had used its contracts effectively but that it could
                                               improve some areas of its contracting support. In addition, GAO’s review of
                                               the Capitol Hill cleanup revealed inconsistencies in EPA’s cost oversight
                                               practices among regions. For example, EPA uses a computerized system for
To enhance EPA’s contract
                                               tracking contractor costs for hazardous substance removal contracts, but
oversight, GAO recommends that
the EPA Administrator require all              regions use the system inconsistently for the technical assessment contracts
EPA regions to more consistently               also used during emergency responses. Consistent use of the system would
use two contract oversight                     likely improve the quality of EPA’s nationwide contract data and enhance
practices and to examine                       EPA’s oversight capabilities.
expanding the use of another.
                                               EPA agreed to indemnify two contractors with key roles in the fumigation of
EPA officials agreed to implement              the Hart Senate Office Building with chlorine dioxide gas against liability
or consider implementing GAO’s                 that could have resulted if a third party had been injured by the contractors’
recommendations. Their                         release of a harmful substance, including anthrax.
comments and our response are
discussed at the end of this report.
                                               Cleanup Personnel Prepare Duct Work for Air Sampling




www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-686.

To view the full report, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact John
Stephenson (202) 512-3841 or
stephensonj@gao.gov.
Contents


Letter                                                                                       1
              Results in Brief                                                               2
              Background                                                                     4
              EPA Spent About $27 Million of its Superfund Money to Clean Up
                the Capitol Hill Anthrax Site                                              10
              EPA Competitively Awarded Most Major Contracts Used in the
                Anthrax Cleanup                                                            13
              EPA Devoted Extensive Resources to Overseeing Contractors’
                Work, yet Some Contracting Changes Would Better Support EPA
                Cleanups                                                                   19
              EPA Negotiated Indemnification Agreements with Two
                Contractors to Address Their Liability Concerns                            29
              Conclusions                                                                  31
              Recommendations for Executive Action                                         31
              Agency Comments and Our Response                                             32
              Scope and Methodology                                                        33

Appendix I    Contract Tasks and Roles                                                     36



Appendix II   GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments                                       41



Tables
              Table 1: EPA Estimated Contract and Government Agreement Cost
                       Increases for the Capitol Hill Anthrax Cleanup                      11
              Table 2: Competitively Awarded Superfund Contracts Used for the
                       Capitol Hill Anthrax Cleanup                                        15
              Table 3: Noncompetitively Awarded EPA Contracts Used for the
                       Capitol Hill Anthrax Cleanup                                        17
              Table 4: Agreements with Federal and State Agencies Used for the
                       Capitol Hill Anthrax Cleanup                                        19


Figures
              Figure 1: A Sample Is Inserted into a Vial in the Hart Senate Office
                       Building                                                              6
              Figure 2: Cleanup Personnel Use a HEPA Vacuum in a
                       Congressional Office                                                  7



              Page i                                  GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
Figure 3: Breakout of EPA Contract and Government Agreement
         Costs                                                                            13




Abbreviations

CDM               CDM Federal Programs Corporation
CERCLA            Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation,
                   and Liability Act
EPA               Environmental Protection Agency
HEPA              high efficiency particulate arresting
NCP               National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution
                   Contingency Plan



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Page ii                                         GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   June 4, 2003

                                   The Honorable Charles E. Grassley
                                   Chairman, Committee on Finance
                                   United States Senate

                                   Dear Chairman Grassley:

                                   Anthrax is a naturally occurring bacterium that causes acute infectious
                                   disease and is potentially fatal.1 As you know, in September and October
                                   2001, the first cases of anthrax bioterrorism occurred in the United States
                                   when letters containing a powdered form of anthrax were mailed to
                                   members of the news media and congressional leaders. On October 15,
                                   2001, one of these letters, addressed to the former Majority Leader of the
                                   U. S. Senate, was opened in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington,
                                   D.C. The letter had contaminated several congressional and other
                                   buildings along the mail delivery route and elsewhere, and approximately
                                   30 congressional employees tested positive for anthrax exposure soon
                                   after. The Hart Senate Office Building is a 10-million-cubic-foot building
                                   that houses the offices and staffs of 50 senators. As a result of the anthrax
                                   contamination, the Hart Building and several others on Capitol Hill were
                                   closed.

                                   In consultation with the leadership of the Congress, the U.S. Capitol Police
                                   Board—which oversees the security of the Capitol complex—established
                                   a team led by an independent “incident commander” to coordinate the
                                   response to the anthrax incident among several federal and local agencies.
                                   The team determined that the congressional offices should be
                                   decontaminated and reopened as expeditiously as possible so that the
                                   operations of the legislative branch would not be impeded. The
                                   Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which removes hazardous
                                   substances under its Superfund program, had a significant role in the
                                   cleanup.




                                   1
                                    Technically, the term “anthrax” refers to the disease caused by the spore-forming
                                   bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, and not the bacterium or its spores. In this report, we use
                                   the term to refer to the bacterium and its spores to reflect terminology commonly used in
                                   the media and by the general public.



                                   Page 1                                          GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                   As the cleanup of the Capitol Hill anthrax site progressed, EPA’s estimates
                   of its cost steadily increased. Consequently, you asked us to examine
                   several aspects of EPA’s cleanup. This report describes (1) the costs EPA
                   incurred to conduct the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup and how the costs
                   were funded, (2) the extent to which EPA awarded the anthrax cleanup
                   contracts competitively, (3) EPA’s oversight of the work performed by
                   contractors and any suggested changes to EPA’s contracting processes,
                   and (4) the extent to which EPA agreed to indemnify contractors against
                   liability for potential damages related to the cleanup.

                   To conduct our work, we sought contracting documentation relevant to
                   the anthrax cleanup from EPA. However, delays in receiving much of this
                   documentation considerably extended the time necessary to complete our
                   work. Factors contributing to the delay included the need to negotiate and
                   then to implement a process established by the Capitol Police Board and
                   EPA to address their respective concerns. The Capitol Police Board was
                   concerned that the EPA documents might contain sensitive security
                   information, and EPA thought that the documents might contain
                   confidential business information that it was not authorized to release to
                   the Capitol Police Board. As the first step in the process, EPA established
                   a reading room for GAO staff to preliminarily review the documents. After
                   this review, EPA screened the documents for confidential business
                   information and gave them, with certain information redacted, to the
                   Capitol Police Board so it could screen for security issues and redact
                   sensitive information. After the EPA and Capitol Police Board reviews,
                   which took more than 3 months, the documents were given to us. In part
                   because of delays in obtaining this contracting information, we surveyed
                   63 EPA personnel the agency had identified as having provided contractor
                   oversight for the cleanup to obtain information on their oversight roles.
                   We received survey responses from 56 people, a response rate of 89
                   percent. Our scope and methodology for this review are presented at the
                   end of this report.


                   EPA spent approximately $27 million to clean up anthrax contamination
Results in Brief   on Capitol Hill, using funding from its Superfund program. To conduct the
                   anthrax contamination assessments and the actual decontamination, EPA
                   retained the services of many more contractors than it would typically use
                   for a single Superfund cleanup site. Specifically, EPA paid 27 contractors
                   and three federal and state agencies about $25 million for the Capitol Hill
                   anthrax cleanup; the remaining $2 million covered EPA’s personnel costs,
                   including travel, primarily for the staff who supervised the contractors. In
                   fiscal year 2002, the Congress appropriated about $23 million to replenish


                   Page 2                                  GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
a substantial portion of the Superfund monies EPA had spent. From the
outset in October 2001, many uncertainties were associated with the
cleanup effort, including how to remove anthrax from buildings and how
much the cleanup would cost. As the nature and extent of the
contamination became fully known and the solutions to remove and
properly dispose of the anthrax were agreed upon and carried out, EPA’s
November 2001 estimate of $5 million proved to be a fraction of what was
actually needed to conduct the cleanup. With the dedication of substantial
resources and funding to the cleanup, the objective of reopening the
decontaminated Capitol Hill office buildings as soon as was safely possible
was achieved in about 3 months. In contrast, some other buildings that
were also contaminated with anthrax in the fall of 2001, such as the
Brentwood postal facility, remain closed as of May 2003.

Because EPA relied extensively on the existing competitively awarded
Superfund contracts it routinely uses to address threats posed by the
release or threatened release of hazardous substances, about 80 percent of
the contract costs for the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup were incurred
under competitively awarded technical assessment or hazardous
substance removal contracts. Specifically, EPA used 10 of its existing
competitively awarded contracts and 2 new competitively awarded supply
and security contracts for additional support. Most of the 15 contracts that
were not competitively awarded were sole-source contracts for under
$200,000 to obtain supplies and technical, laboratory, and security services
or to support existing removal contracts. EPA’s Office of Acquisition
Management authorized the use of sole-source contracts for the cleanup
on the basis that the emergency situation created an urgent and
compelling need to obtain services and supplies without going through the
generally more time-consuming competitive bidding process. For
additional assistance, EPA also entered into agreements with the U.S.
Coast Guard, the Department of the Army, and the State of Maryland
Department of the Environment.

EPA dedicated significant staff resources to overseeing the many
contractors working on the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup to ensure that
their assessment and cleanup work was appropriate and the charges were
accurate and reasonable. About 150 EPA staff participated in the cleanup,
including about 50 staff from nine regional offices—called on-scene
coordinators—who have experience in leading and overseeing emergency
environmental cleanup operations. The on-scene coordinators oversaw,
and sometimes assisted with the work of, the contractors during shifts that
ran 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for about 3 months. The tasks of the on-
scene coordinators varied but most often included ensuring that the


Page 3                                  GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
             contractors were on-site and performing assigned tasks efficiently. In
             addition, EPA assigned an administrative specialist to ensure that contract
             charges were accurate and reasonable. This individual reviewed the daily
             charges for four removal contracts, which represented about 41 percent of
             the total contract costs. EPA has conducted four assessments of its
             emergency responses to the anthrax incidents, focusing on or including
             the Capitol Hill site. Overall, these assessments indicated that EPA used its
             contracting capabilities effectively, but they also identified areas in which
             EPA could improve contract support, and EPA has begun taking steps to
             do so. Moreover, our work on the Capitol Hill cleanup revealed areas in
             which oversight of contract costs was not consistent among the regions
             and might be improved. For example, while EPA uses a computerized
             system for tracking contractor costs for removal contracts, this system is
             used on a limited basis for technical contracts that are also used for
             cleanups. If the system—which provides up-to-date cost information
             organized in consistent categories, such as equipment and travel—were
             used consistently, the quality of EPA’s nationwide contract data would be
             improved and its oversight capabilities would likely be enhanced. Toward
             this end, we are recommending that EPA require all the regions to more
             consistently use certain of the practices now used in only some regions.

             EPA agreed to indemnify two contractors that had key roles in the
             fumigation of the Hart Senate Office Building with chlorine dioxide gas
             against liability that could have resulted if a third party had been injured
             by the contractors’ release of a harmful substance, including anthrax and
             chlorine dioxide. Although one of the contractors worked at the site while
             negotiating with EPA for indemnification against such liability, the other
             contractor would not start removal procedures without first receiving
             indemnification. Following 4 weeks of negotiations, EPA reached
             agreement on indemnification with this contractor in November 2001.
             Because the negotiation process occurred at the same time that testing
             was being performed offsite to determine the proper decontamination
             methods to use at the Hart Senate Office Building, the month-long
             negotiation process did not delay the cleanup. However, it potentially
             could have done so. As a result, two of EPA’s assessments of its responses
             to the 2001 terrorist attacks recommended expanding contractor
             indemnification to address counter-terrorism response activities.


             The Capitol Hill anthrax incident occurred a month after the terrorist
Background   attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, while EPA and other
             federal agencies were continuing to respond to these attacks. The Capitol
             Police Board, which governs the U.S. Capitol Police Force, led the anthrax


             Page 4                                  GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
cleanup at the Capitol Hill site.2 Consisting at the time of our review of the
House and Senate Sergeants-at-Arms and the Architect of the Capitol, the
Board oversees the security of members of the Congress and the Capitol
buildings, such as the congressional office buildings. The federal entities
involved in the cleanup—including EPA, the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the
U.S. Coast Guard, and the Department of the Army—reported to an
incident commander who was appointed by the Capitol Police Board to
make decisions on the day-to-day activities of the cleanup. The period
from October 20, 2001, to November 13, 2001, is characterized as the
emergency phase, which focused on identifying the extent of anthrax
contamination; this was followed by the remedial, or cleanup, phase.

Reporting to the Capitol Police Board’s incident commander, EPA
managed the decontamination aspects of the cleanup. EPA’s activities at
the Capitol Hill site included

•   working with other agencies and entities to evaluate the effectiveness
    of potential disinfectants and cleanup technologies,

•   isolating areas to prevent the spread of contamination,

•   sampling to determine and confirm the extent of contamination (see
    fig. 1),

•   evaluating sampling results,

•   removing critical items for special decontamination procedures, and

•   cleaning up the contaminated areas and disposing of decontaminated
    items.




2
 The cleanup decisions were authorized by EPA in “action memoranda” the agency uses for
Superfund response decisions.




Page 5                                        GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
Figure 1: A Sample Is Inserted into a Vial in the Hart Senate Office Building




At the Capitol Hill site, EPA sampled both surfaces and air in the buildings
for the presence of anthrax, using three types of surface samples (wet
swabs and wipes for nonporous surfaces and high efficiency particulate
arresting (HEPA) vacuuming for porous materials) and four types of air
samples. Four methods were used to remove anthrax found in
congressional buildings: fumigating with chlorine dioxide gas, an
antimicrobial pesticide; disinfecting with a liquid form of chlorine dioxide;
disinfecting with Sandia foam;3 and using HEPA vacuuming (see fig. 2).
During the cleanup, chlorine dioxide gas was identified as the best
available fumigant for decontaminating parts of the Hart Senate Office
Building, as well as for fumigating mail and packages. EPA oversaw the
use of chlorine dioxide gas during three fumigation events in the Hart
building.



3
Sandia foam is a decontaminant that neutralizes chemical and biological agents.




Page 6                                         GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
Figure 2: Cleanup Personnel Use a HEPA Vacuum in a Congressional Office




In addition, contractors removed items from congressional offices that
were critical to congressional operations or personal effects of
significance. These items were bagged, tagged, and moved for off-site
decontamination. Approximately 3,250 bags of critical items were
transported to a company in Richmond, Virginia, for decontamination
treatment using ethylene oxide. Approximately 4,000 packages and other
mail were collected from the mail rooms in congressional office buildings
and also transported off site for decontamination using chlorine dioxide
gas. In addition, drums of mail were sent to a facility in Lima, Ohio, for
irradiation treatment.

The Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup site included 26 buildings, most of them
located in or near the Capitol Hill area of Washington, D.C. The buildings



Page 7                                   GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
that required testing for anthrax contamination included congressional
and judicial buildings; mail facilities; and other nearby buildings, such as
the Library of Congress. Initial sampling was conducted along the route
traveled by the letter opened in the Hart Building by tracing the route back
to the Dirksen Senate Office Building (where the mail for the Senate is
processed), to the P Street Warehouse (a restricted mail inspection facility
overseen by the Capitol Police where congressional mail is inspected), and
finally to the Brentwood postal facility (the U.S. Postal Service mail
processing and distribution center for Washington, D.C.).4

Samples from 7 of the 26 buildings were found to contain anthrax, which
required that these 7 undergo more thorough sampling, followed by
decontamination, and followed then by resampling to confirm that the
anthrax had been eradicated. In total, approximately 10,000 samples were
taken at the Capitol Hill site, about half of them from locations in the Hart
Senate Office Building. EPA advised the Capitol Police Board’s incident
commander about the extent to which buildings needed to be cleaned to
make them safe. EPA, along with the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and other relevant
authorities, determined that the cleanup standard that would be fully
protective of public health and the environment was “no detectable, viable
anthrax spores.” The seven buildings that required decontamination were
the Dirksen, Hart, and Russell Senate Office Buildings; the Ford and
Longworth House Office Buildings; the U.S. Supreme Court Building; and
the P Street Warehouse. Six of the seven buildings were cleared for
reentry by the end of January 2002. The P Street Warehouse was cleared
for reentry in March 2002. According to the lead EPA on-scene
coordinator, no one became sick as a result of exposure to anthrax or
chemical agents used during decontamination.

EPA performed its work on the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup under its
Superfund program pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the National Oil
and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP). Provisions
of CERCLA, as amended, promote a coordinated federal, state, and local
response to mitigate situations at sites that may pose an imminent and


4
 The Brentwood Processing and Distribution Center was renamed the Joseph Curseen, Jr.,
and Thomas Morris, Jr., Processing and Distribution Center in September 2002 in honor of
two postal employees who died as a result of anthrax exposure at the facility. The facility is
still commonly referred to as Brentwood.




Page 8                                           GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
substantial threat to public health or the environment. The NCP is the
federal government’s blueprint for responding to both oil spills and
hazardous substance releases. It requires that an on-scene coordinator
manage the federal response at the scene of a discharge of oil or a release
of a hazardous substance that poses a threat to public health or the
environment. The on-scene coordinator coordinates all federal efforts
with, and provides support and information to, local, state, and regional
response communities. Depending on where an incident occurs, the on-
scene coordinator may be either an EPA or U.S. Coast Guard employee.
EPA’s Superfund work typically involves using agency personnel and
contractors from 1 of 10 EPA regions located throughout the country that
have experience with the hazardous substances involved in the incident
and the methods required to remove them.

Removal actions are generally short-term, relatively inexpensive responses
to releases or threats of releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or
contaminants that pose a danger to human health, welfare, or the
environment. CERCLA generally limits the cost of a removal action to
$2 million and the duration to 1 year. However, CERCLA exempts certain
removal actions from these limitations, such as when continued response
is required immediately to prevent, limit, or mitigate an emergency. EPA
approved an emergency exemption to the $2-million statutory limit for the
Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup on November 5, 2001.

Typically, EPA provides one on-scene coordinator for a removal site to
perform an initial assessment of the cleanup work needed, monitor the
more detailed technical assessment and cleanup work being performed by
EPA personnel and one or two contractors, and evaluate the results.
However, the Capitol Hill site response was different from most hazardous
materials emergency responses in its size and complexity, the nature of
the contamination, and the requirement that the closed congressional
buildings be reopened as soon as possible. As a result, EPA had to use a
large number of on-scene coordinators, major contracts, and other federal
agencies for assistance. In this case, EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Office
(Region III) provided the lead on-scene coordinator, who led the agency’s
cleanup efforts. Region III, along with eight other regions, also provided
about 50 other on-scene coordinators. Further, unlike most EPA cleanups,
the lead on-scene coordinator was not in charge of the overall operations
but instead reported to the incident commander, who in turn reported to
the Capitol Police Board and House and Senate leaders.

A substantial portion of the cleanup work at the Capitol Hill site was
performed from October 2001 through January 2002, with most of the


Page 9                                  GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                       remaining work finished by April 2002. However, some additional costs
                       have been incurred, and EPA personnel continued to work on activities
                       related to the cleanup after April 2002. For example, the final disposal of
                       items used at the cleanup continued after the buildings had been
                       reopened. In addition, EPA conducted several internal reviews to identify
                       lessons learned from this experience to help the agency prepare for
                       responses to other potential biological or chemical weapons attacks.


                       According to EPA, the agency expended about $27 million on the Capitol
EPA Spent About $27    Hill anthrax cleanup, using Superfund program funding.5 Through fiscal
Million of its         year 2002 supplemental appropriations acts, the Congress provided EPA
                       with additional funding for activities related to terrorism, and EPA
Superfund Money to     allocated about $23 million of these funds to reimburse the Superfund
Clean Up the Capitol   program for expenditures associated with the Capitol Hill anthrax
                       cleanup. Overall, EPA dedicated what it describes as unprecedented
Hill Anthrax Site      resources—contract staff and EPA personnel—to accomplish the cleanup
                       of the anthrax site safely and effectively. Ninety-three percent of the $27
                       million in costs were incurred primarily by EPA contractors who, among
                       other things, conducted technical assessments and performed the
                       decontamination tasks at the various Capitol Hill sites; the remaining 7
                       percent of costs were incurred by EPA personnel, largely for planning and
                       overseeing the work of the contractors in accordance with the direction
                       provided by the Capitol Police Board.

                       Over the course of the cleanup, EPA revised its cost estimates several
                       times as the nature and extent of the contamination became fully known
                       and the solutions for removing and properly disposing of the anthrax were
                       agreed upon and carried out. EPA’s various cost estimates covered the
                       contracts and government agreements and generally do not include the
                       payroll and travel costs associated with EPA personnel assigned to the
                       Capitol Hill site. In November 2001, EPA increased its initial estimate for
                       the cleanup to $5 million—more than doubling the initial statutory limit of
                       $2 million. EPA revised its estimate for the cleanup five more times to
                       continue work necessary to control and mitigate the threat of release of
                       anthrax to the environment and to properly dispose of pollutants and



                       5
                        The expenditures reported are as of March 14, 2003, and were paid under total obligations
                       of about $30 million. Obligations are contracts awarded, services received, and similar
                       transactions during a given period that will require payment during the same or future
                       period.




                       Page 10                                         GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
contaminants from the site. The last revision—an increase from $25
million to $28 million—occurred in June 2002. (See table 1.)

Table 1: EPA Estimated Contract and Government Agreement Cost Increases for
the Capitol Hill Anthrax Cleanup

    Dollars in millions
                                                                                    New estimated
    Date approved                           Amount of increase                       contract cost
                                                                   a
    November 5, 2001                                                                            $5
    December 5, 2001                                             $4                                 9
    December 18, 2001                                              3                               12
    January 16, 2002                                               8                               20
    February 14, 2002                                              5                               25
    June 6, 2002                                                   3                               28
Source: EPA.
a
EPA first authorized spending in excess of the $2 million statutory limit in a November 5, 2001, action
memorandum.


EPA adjusted its projections during the course of the cleanup as a result of
a number of factors generally related to the uniqueness of the situation—
the first use of anthrax as a terrorist weapon in this country. EPA had not
addressed anthrax contamination in buildings previously and protocols for
responding to contamination by anthrax or other biological agents did not
exist. In addition, some scientific and technical information needed to
properly plan and conduct the anthrax cleanup was not readily available;
and EPA did not, at that time, have registered antimicrobial agents
approved for use against anthrax. Also, EPA had not compared the costs
of candidate decontamination methods. Further, much was—and still is—
unknown about the properties of lab-produced anthrax such as that used
in this incident, which led to uncertainties about the health risks posed by
the contamination and how it could spread. As a result, EPA and
contractors had to develop plans for decontaminating large areas within
buildings with limited practical knowledge; search for decontamination
methods; assess their likely efficacy; implement them; and, at times, repeat
the process if the methods did not work. Finally, EPA was one of a
number of participants in the decisions made about the work to be done,
the timing of the work, and the resources needed; it was not the primary
decision maker as it would be in a typical Superfund cleanup.

As EPA and contractor staff were beginning their work at the Capitol Hill
anthrax site, the limitations of existing knowledge about the health risks
associated with anthrax—such as what amount of exposure could cause



Page 11                                               GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
illness or death—were becoming more clear. That the Capitol Hill site was
potentially riskier than initially believed became evident when workers in
the postal facilities where anthrax-laced letters were processed became ill;
two of them subsequently died of inhalation anthrax. The scientific and
medical information initially available to EPA and other agencies indicated
that workers in postal facilities were not at risk of infection. Further, an
elderly Connecticut woman—who may have been exposed to mail that
had been contaminated with anthrax—died from anthrax inhalation, and a
New York woman whose exposure to anthrax could not be linked to any
mail or mail facilities also died.6

To accomplish the cleanup safely in the midst of significant scientific and
technical uncertainty and changing information about how anthrax
spreads, EPA called on about 150 of its staff in headquarters and the
regions, incurring agency payroll and travel costs of $1.9 million7—payroll
costs amounted to $1.3 million and travel costs to about $600,000.8
According to our analysis of EPA’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer
records, the majority of payroll and travel costs were incurred by on-scene
coordinators from EPA’s regions who were overseeing and assisting on
the cleanup. Further, EPA employed 27 contractors and obtained further
support from three government agencies at a total cost of about $25
million to provide assessment and cleanup services. These costs are
discussed in the next section.

Because of the magnitude and urgency of the health threat and the high
priority placed on reopening the congressional buildings as soon as
possible to mitigate disruptions to the functioning of the federal
government, the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup conducted by EPA and other
federal agencies was accomplished fairly quickly, with the majority of
contaminated buildings opened for business in about 3 months. Without


6
 Including the four fatalities discussed, the letters contaminated with anthrax caused 23
illnesses and resulted in five deaths.
7
 We did not validate the personnel costs reported by the Office of the Chief Financial
Officer. These costs may be somewhat understated because documents we reviewed
showed that at least five of the on-scene coordinators who worked at the Capitol Hill
anthrax cleanup for 3 weeks or less were not identified by EPA as having their hours
worked and/or transportation expenses assigned to the cleanup job.
8
 According to EPA officials, the agency decided to allocate direct personnel costs (salaries
and travel expenses) to the anthrax cleanup but not indirect costs, such as contract
management support, which it normally allocates to Superfund cleanups. Under the
Superfund program, EPA seeks to recover costs from the responsible party or parties.




Page 12                                          GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                        the emphasis on reopening the buildings, for example, the cleanup site
                        likely would not have been operated around the clock, 24/7, for months. In
                        contrast, testing and decontamination of some buildings at other sites
                        have taken much longer. For example, fumigation of the Brentwood postal
                        facility was completed in March 2003, and this facility had not reopened as
                        of May 2003. In addition, a news media building in Boca Raton, Florida,
                        where the first letter containing anthrax was received in September 2001,
                        remained closed as of May 2003.


                        Almost all of the cleanup expenses–81 percent—paid to EPA’s 27
EPA Competitively       contractors and 3 government agencies were incurred under competitively
Awarded Most Major      awarded contracts. For example, $20.3 million of the approximately $25
                        million total expenditures under contracts and government agreements
Contracts Used in the   were incurred under 10 existing, competitively awarded contracts that
Anthrax Cleanup         EPA routinely uses under the Superfund program to respond to releases or
                        the threat of releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants
                        that may present imminent and substantial danger to the public health or
                        welfare. Most of the contracts that were not competitively awarded cost
                        less than $200,000 and provided supplies and technical services. For
                        additional assistance, EPA also entered into agreements with two federal
                        agencies and one state agency. (See fig. 3.)

                        Figure 3: Breakout of EPA Contract and Government Agreement Costs




                        a
                        The competitively awarded contracts include $20.3 million expended under 10 existing contracts and
                        about $0.1 million under 2 contracts awarded during the cleanup.




                        Page 13                                             GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
Competitively Awarded   When responding to a release of hazardous substances, EPA first relies on
Superfund Contracts     its existing Superfund contracts. The Competition in Contracting Act of
                        1984 generally requires contracting agencies to obtain full and open
                        competition through the use of competitive procedures, the dual purposes
                        of which are to ensure that procurements are open to all responsible
                        sources and to provide the government with the opportunity to receive fair
                        and reasonable prices. In order to respond to emergencies involving
                        releases of hazardous substances quickly, EPA issues competitively
                        awarded multiyear Superfund contracts so that contractors with the
                        necessary expertise are available on short notice when needed. The 10
                        EPA regions each negotiate and manage these Superfund contracts for
                        work in their geographic area.

                        EPA generally uses two types of contracts in an emergency response:

                        •   technical contracts provide technical assistance for EPA’s site
                            assessment and removal activities, and
                        •   removal contracts provide emergency, time-critical removal services.

                        EPA used 10 existing, competitively awarded Superfund contracts for
                        most of the technical assessment and anthrax removal at the Capitol Hill
                        site: 4 technical contracts, 4 removal contracts, 2 other contracts that
                        provided specific technical services and support; and issued 2 additional
                        contracts for security services and supplies that were competitively
                        awarded. (See table 2.) The 10 existing contracts had been in place for up
                        to 4 years when the anthrax incident occurred.9 While EPA’s Region III
                        issued the Superfund contracts that incurred the most costs for the Capitol
                        Hill anthrax cleanup, contracts from other regions were also used to
                        augment Region III contracting resources. The 10 existing Superfund
                        contracts accounted for $20.3 million—or about 80 percent—of the total
                        contract and government agreement costs for the Capitol Hill cleanup.




                        9
                        Most of these contracts are awarded for 5-year terms.




                        Page 14                                        GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
Table 2: Competitively Awarded Superfund Contracts Used for the Capitol Hill Anthrax Cleanup

                                                                                                 Obligated                  Expended
                                                                                                                                    a
 EPA Superfund contract                                    Contract purpose                       amount                     amount

 IT Corporation                                            Removal                              $4,800,000                  $3,924,566

 Tetra Tech EM, Inc.                                       Technical                             4,497,205                   4,397,083

 Earth Tech, Inc.                                          Removal                               3,751,700                   3,380,143

 Environmental Quality Management, Inc.                    Removal                               3,100,000                   2,848,095

 CDM Federal Programs Corporation                          Support                               2,500,000                   2,075,436

 Roy F. Weston, Inc.                                       Technical                             1,495,320                   1,424,415

 Ecology & Environment, Inc.                               Technical                             1,055,261                   1,039,601

 Lockheed Martin                                           Support                               1,000,000                   1,000,000

 Guardian Environmental Services, Inc.                     Removal                                 200,000                     116,184

 URS Operating Services, Inc.                              Technical                                91,423                      91,423

 MVM Security & Staffing Services                          Security services                        87,562                      87,562

 TSI, Inc.                                                 Supplies                                  7,520                       7,520

 Total                                                                                         $22,585,991                 $20,392,028
Source: EPA’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer.
                                                       a
                                                       Expenditures as of March 14, 2003.


                                                       The four EPA technical contracts for the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup,
                                                       among other things, provided decontamination plans and sampled for
                                                       anthrax in buildings. According to an EPA contracting official in Region
                                                       III, technical contracts typically account for about 10 percent of total
                                                       contract costs at a cleanup site. However, technical contracts costs for the
                                                       Capitol Hill site totaled about $7 million—or about 28 percent of the total
                                                       contract costs.

                                                       The four EPA removal contracts for the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup
                                                       provided personnel, equipment, and materials to remove items from the
                                                       site for safekeeping, decontaminate areas where anthrax was found, and
                                                       dispose of contaminated items. These removal contracts also provided
                                                       equipment and personnel to conduct sampling because of the large
                                                       amount of samples that were required and the short time frames involved.
                                                       The four EPA removal contract costs totaled about $10 million.




                                                       Page 15                                 GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                           The other existing EPA contracts provided either specific technical
                           services or support. One contract, which provides engineering and
                           analytical services to EPA, monitored the air to ensure that potentially
                           harmful decontamination chemicals were not released outside the area in
                           which they were being used. Another contract, typically used for long-term
                           Superfund cleanups known as remedial cleanups, provided additional
                           technical support, including sampling analysis and data evaluation at the
                           site. These two contracts totaled $3 million.


Noncompetitively Awarded   Federal contracting laws that generally require EPA to use a competitive
Contracts                  bidding process permit some exceptions to this requirement, including
                           emergency situations where there is an unusual or compelling urgency for
                           obtaining the necessary supplies or services. On this basis, in November
                           2001, EPA’s Office of Acquisition Management gave the EPA contracting
                           officers the authority to enter into contracts for the Capitol Hill anthrax
                           site without using the normal competitive bidding process. Overall, EPA
                           used 15 noncompetitively awarded contracts—that is, sole-source
                           contracts—for supplies and for technical, removal, and laboratory services
                           to support the cleanup of the Capitol Hill anthrax site. As shown in table 3,
                           costs for three of the sole-source contracts exceeded $200,000, and many
                           of them were for considerably less.




                           Page 16                                 GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
Table 3: Noncompetitively Awarded EPA Contracts Used for the Capitol Hill Anthrax Cleanup

                                                                                                      Obligated                 Expended
                                                                                                                                        a
 Contract                                                              Contract purpose                amount                    amount
                                                       b
 Kemron Environmental Services, Inc.                                   Removal                       $2,421,800                 $2,119,650

 HMHTTC Response Team, Inc.                                            Removal                          900,000                    900,000

 Southwest Research Institute                                          Laboratory                       383,085                    383,085

 University of California—Berkeley Sponsored Projects Technical                                         182,075                    182,075
 Office

 Silva Consulting Services, LLC                                        Technical                        165,000                    158,100

 Science Applications International Corporationb                       Technical                        132,359                     28,630

 Biomarine, Inc.                                                       Supplies                           81,147                    65,647

 Envirofoam Technologies, Inc.                                         Supplies                           52,405                    52,405

 Safeware, Inc.                                                        Supplies                           49,450                    49,450

 Airgas Safety                                                         Supplies                           31,756                    30,992

 Sabre Oxidation Technologies, Inc.                                    Technical                          21,950                    19,850

 U.S. Art Company, Inc.                                                Technical                          12,842                    12,842

 Mine Safety Appliancesb                                               Supplies                           12,446                    12,446

 Coastal Safety & Health Services, Inc.                                Supplies                           11,025                    11,025

 New Horizons Diagnostics Corporation                                  Supplies                            5,717                     5,717

 Total                                                                                               $4,463,057                 $4,031,914
Source: EPA’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer.
                                                           a
                                                           Expenditures as of March 14, 2003.
                                                           b
                                                           GSA federal supply schedule contract.


                                                           The largest noncompetitive contract used for the cleanup was with
                                                           Kemron Environmental Services, Inc. Kemron provided EPA with HEPA
                                                           vacuuming services, one of the four methods used to remove anthrax at
                                                           the Capitol Hill site. EPA obtained the services of Kemron under the GSA
                                                           federal supply schedule, relying on GSA’s determination that the prices




                                                           Page 17                                 GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                      offered under the GSA contract were fair and reasonable.10 The second
                      largest noncompetitive contract was with the removal contractor
                      HMHTTC Response Team, which provided additional workers in
                      December 2001 to relieve the removal contractors who had worked at the
                      site since October. The other sole-source contract over $200,000 was with
                      Southwest Research Institute, a laboratory that analyzed spore strips used
                      to test for anthrax after the decontamination efforts. This particular
                      laboratory was selected because it was familiar with the protocol
                      developed by the technical consultant who developed the spore strips. In
                      addition, according to EPA officials, the lab could handle the quantity of
                      spore strips the cleanup generated, it promised a quick turnaround time,
                      and the fee was reasonable.

                      The other noncompetitively awarded contracts used at the Capitol Hill site
                      were for supplies needed for the contractors working at the site, such as
                      respirators, air quality meters, and sampling kits, and for technical and
                      removal and laboratory services. For example, one technical contractor,
                      U.S. Art Company, Inc., provided advice regarding the removal and
                      decontamination of art objects in the Capitol Hill buildings.

                      Appendix I provides details on the tasks performed under the
                      competitively and noncompetitively awarded contracts.


Agreements with       EPA obtained further support through two federal interagency agreements
Government Agencies   and one state agreement. EPA amended an existing interagency agreement
                      with the U.S. Coast Guard to respond quickly to the Capitol Hill anthrax
                      contamination. The U.S. Coast Guard National Strike Force provided
                      tactical entry teams, specialized equipment, management support, and a
                      deputy to the incident commander during the emergency phase of the
                      cleanup. EPA also entered into a new interagency agreement with the U.S.
                      Department of the Army for waste incineration services at Fort Detrick,
                      Maryland. In addition, EPA used the State of Maryland Department of the


                      10
                        Under the Federal Supply Schedule, GSA awards contracts to multiple companies
                      supplying comparable products and services after determining that the prices negotiated
                      were fair and reasonable. Federal agencies may use the supply schedule to purchase
                      commercial services requiring a statement of work but are responsible for determining that
                      the total contract prices are fair and reasonable, considering the level of effort and mix of
                      labor skills needed to perform specific tasks. Agencies ordering services that require a
                      statement of work are to transmit their requests for services to at least three contractors.
                      However, EPA awarded this contract without soliciting bids from three contractors on the
                      basis that there was an unusual and compelling need to obtain the services without delay.




                      Page 18                                          GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                             Environment to review work plans and help coordinate EPA’s removal and
                             disposal of anthrax. (See table 4.)

                             Table 4: Agreements with Federal and State Agencies Used for the Capitol Hill
                             Anthrax Cleanup

                                                                                              Obligated          Expended
                                                                                                                         a
                                 Entity                                                        amount             amount

                                 U.S. Coast Guard                                              $900,000            $635,254

                                 Department of the Army-U.S. Medical                            274,141             241,141
                                 Command

                                 State of Maryland Department of the                               1,500              1,500
                                 Environment

                                 Total                                                       $1,175,641            $877,895
                             Source: EPA’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer.
                             a
                             Expenditures as of March 14, 2003.


                             EPA dedicated significant staff resources to overseeing the many
EPA Devoted                  contractors working on the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup. Specifically,
Extensive Resources          about 50 EPA staff ensured the contractors were on site and performing
                             assigned tasks appropriately. In addition, EPA assigned an administrative
to Overseeing                specialist to ensure contract charges were accurate and reasonable. After
Contractors’ Work,           the cleanup, EPA assessed its response to the Capitol Hill anthrax incident
                             and concluded that, overall, it had effectively used its contracting
yet Some Contracting         resources. However, EPA also identified ways it could improve contract
Changes Would Better         support for potential future emergency responses. Moreover, our review of
Support EPA                  the Capitol Hill anthrax incident revealed inconsistencies in oversight
                             practices that could affect the quality of EPA’s contract cost oversight,
Cleanups                     such as the extent to which regions use the computerized cost-tracking
                             system, the extent to which they assign dedicated administrative
                             specialists to cleanup sites to oversee costs, and regions’ varying
                             approaches to reviewing cost reports for technical contracts.


Staff Oversaw Contractors’   EPA used emergency technical assessment and hazardous substance
Work to Ensure It Was        removal contractors to conduct the cleanup and dedicated significant staff
Appropriate and Charges      resources to overseeing their work. Reporting to the Capitol Police Board,
                             EPA staff provided extensive technical expertise in anthrax detection and
Were Accurate and            removal to ensure that the Capitol Hill cleanup protected public health and
Reasonable                   the environment. In all, according to EPA’s Office of the Chief Financial
                             Officer’s payroll list, about 150 EPA staff participated in the anthrax



                             Page 19                                                GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
cleanup, including about 50 staff from nine regional offices who are
experienced in leading and overseeing emergency environmental cleanup
operations—the on-scene coordinators—and several staff from EPA’s
Environmental Response Team who also have experience in emergency
cleanup operations.11

The on-scene coordinators oversaw, and sometimes assisted with, the
work of the contractors during shifts that ran 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week, for about 3 months. Fifty-six EPA staff whose responsibilities at the
Capitol Hill site included overseeing contractors responded to our survey
about the oversight activities they performed. They reported that their
tasks varied but that the task they most frequently carried out was
overseeing contractors.12 Specifically, the EPA respondents to our survey
spent, on average,

•     53 percent of their time overseeing contractors;

•     18 percent researching and developing technical plans;

•     13 percent coordinating with other federal agencies on the
      administration of the cleanup; and

•     14 percent on “other activities,” such as conducting pilot studies for the
      decontamination effort, sampling for anthrax, and organizing and
      administering cleanup activities.

The EPA staff who reported overseeing contractors spent, on average, 54
percent of their time observing contractors to ensure they were on site and
working on assigned tasks efficiently. These staff also spent, on average,
17 percent of their time reviewing the results of contractors’ work, and 8
percent of their time preparing daily or weekly work plans. Less
frequently, staff who reported oversight activities also monitored delivery
and quality of supplies, reviewed cost documents, and approved hours
worked by contract personnel.




11
 The Environmental Response Team assists EPA regions and other federal agencies
responding to environmental emergencies by providing a wide range of technical expertise
and equipment.
12
    Forty-six of the survey respondents were on-scene coordinators.




Page 20                                          GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
While EPA staff who reviewed cost documents spent, on average, 3
percent of their time reviewing cost documents, one person—a site
administrative officer—spent 100 percent of his time reviewing cost
documents. As discussed in the following section, Region III generally uses
site administrative officers to review both technical and removal contract
costs in detail and to document these reviews before the on-scene
coordinator reviews and approves them, thereby easing the cost-review
workload of on-scene coordinators and allowing them to focus more on
other cleanup management tasks and issues.

At the Capitol Hill anthrax site, the site administrative officer reviewed the
daily charges for four of the six removal contracts, which represented
about 41 percent of the total contract costs.13 These reviews involved
verifying the hours the contractor staff worked by comparing the hours
billed with the hours recorded in sign-in sheets; reviewing travel costs to
ensure they were within federal guidelines and reviewing other
expenditures of contractor staff, such as telephone charges to ensure they
were allowable. The review work papers provide documentation of the
cost reviews performed.

According to EPA officials, the technical contractors did not have
sufficient staff on site to provide daily cost reports, and the site
administrative officer, therefore, did not review the daily costs of the
technical contracts at the Capitol Hill site. EPA requires reviews of the
monthly cost reports from technical contractors before they are approved
for payment by project officers in the regions; the reviews are generally
performed by the on-scene coordinator at the site. However, we could not
determine the extent to which the costs of the largest technical contract,
which was managed by Region III, were reviewed by on-scene
coordinators at the Capitol Hill site because the project officer responsible
had retired, and EPA staff could not locate any documentation of reviews
that had been requested or performed. As discussed further below, Region
III implemented a new review process in 2002 that requires such
documentation.




13
  The site administrative officer did not review the costs associated with the other two
removal contracts—a GSA federal supply contract and a noncompetitive contract awarded
for a limited period of time—on a daily basis because the contractors had not input these
into the computerized cost tracking system used for the review.




Page 21                                        GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
EPA’s Assessments of Its   EPA conducted four assessments that either focused on or included the
Response to the Capitol    Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup; the reports resulting from each follow:
Hill Anthrax Incident
                           •    Regional Lessons Learned from the Capitol Hill Anthrax Response,
Identified Contracting          March 2002;
Issues, Which EPA Is
Addressing                 •    60-Day Counter-Terrorism Contracting Assessment Final Report,
                                May 2002;

                           •    Federal On-Scene Coordinator’s After Action Report for the Capitol
                                Hill Site, August 2002; and

                           •    Challenges Faced During the Environmental Protection Agency’s
                                Response to Anthrax and Recommendations for Enhancing Response
                                Capabilities: A Lessons Learned Report, September 2002.14

                           One of these reviews, the 60-day counter-terrorism contracting assessment
                           report, focused exclusively on the capability of EPA’s existing emergency
                           response contracting network to respond to terrorist incidents, while the
                           other three addressed a range of issues, such as operations and
                           management, communications and coordination, health and safety, and
                           the resources available to EPA. The overarching purpose of the four
                           reviews was to derive lessons learned from EPA’s responses to the
                           anthrax incidents in order to improve the agency’s ability to handle the
                           kind of threats associated with large terrorist incidents. In this regard,
                           while EPA concluded the cleanup was a success because the anthrax on
                           Capitol Hill was removed efficiently and safely in the face of numerous
                           and unprecedented challenges, the reports include a wide range of
                           recommendations aimed at improving EPA’s response capabilities.
                           Regarding contracting, the four reviews found that the agency’s emergency
                           response contracting network met the response and procurement needs at
                           the Capitol Hill site, but they also identified suggestions or
                           recommendations for EPA to improve contract support for potential
                           future responses. The lessons learned and recommendations included in
                           the counter-terrorism contracting assessment report generally address the
                           contracting issues that were identified in the broader reviews as well.




                           14
                            This report focused largely on the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup but also included EPA’s
                           roles in other anthrax incidents, such as at other federal facilities.




                           Page 22                                         GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
The counter-terrorism contracting assessment report developed 13
recommendations, 9 of which it identified as the most urgent. These high-
priority recommendations include the following:

•   Facilitate counter-terrorism equipment acquisition and maintenance by
    compiling a national vendor database of sources of counter-terrorism
    equipment, supplies, and services.

•   Create a strike team of headquarters and regional contracting officers
    and project officers that will be available for deployment 24/7 in the
    event of an emergency to assist with emergency procurement needs.

•   Increase the administrative support provided to on-scene coordinators
    during a major terrorism-related response by, for example, providing
    staff to review daily cost reports, review invoices, and process on-site
    paperwork.

According to its April 21, 2003, status report of emergency response
contracting activities, EPA has completed or is currently taking steps to
address the contracting recommendations in the counter-terrorism
contracting report. Regarding the three recommendations discussed
above, EPA has done the following:

•   EPA has developed counter-terrorism equipment warehouse contracts
    for most of its regions.

•   EPA developed a final draft document on establishing a national
    contract support team and released it within EPA for review on April
    18, 2003.

•   The workgroup addressing the need for administrative support for on-
    scene coordinators is working on a list of specific administrative
    support tasks that are required.

The next section of this report discusses some other areas in which EPA’s
contracting oversight might be improved that we identified during our
review of the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup.




Page 23                                  GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
Certain Oversight            As a result of the convergence of EPA staff from nine of its regions at the
Practices That Could         Capitol Hill site, regional differences in contractor oversight were
Enhance EPA’s Oversight      highlighted. Three oversight differences concern contract cost data and
                             the review of these costs. First, regions vary in the way they use a
Are Used in Some, but Not    computerized contract cost-tracking system called the Removal Cost
All, Regions                 Management System. All regions use the system for removal contracts;
                             however, some regions also use it for some technical contracts also used
                             at cleanup sites. Second, some regions require that invoice reviews be
                             documented before payments are made; other regions have no such
                             requirement. Third, regarding cost reviews, some regions hire
                             administrative specialists to conduct detailed daily on-site reviews of
                             contract costs in support of the on-scene coordinator, while others only
                             rely on the on-scene coordinator to both manage cleanups and review and
                             approve the contract costs.15

Computerized Cost-Tracking   In 1988, to better support Superfund program management, EPA
System                       developed a computerized cost-tracking system for cleanups so the agency
                             could obtain consistent documentation from contractors at all sites in a
                             timely and efficient manner. Specific anticipated benefits included timely
                             tracking of total costs to ensure that cleanup projects would not exceed
                             authorized amounts, more efficient invoice verification, and the ability to
                             develop more accurate cost estimates for cleanups. The tracking system
                             provides up-to-date cost information organized under the main categories
                             of “personnel,” “equipment,” and “other field costs;” the system further
                             breaks “other field costs” into such subcategories as materials and
                             supplies, travel, lodging, per diem, and subcontracts. Thus, to the extent
                             that regions require contractors to input daily contract costs into the
                             system, EPA can readily monitor total costs as well as individual cost
                             categories on a daily basis. Daily cost information supports oversight
                             better than monthly information because it allows timely, on-site reviews
                             of costs that can uncover inefficient or excessive use of labor and
                             equipment.

                             While a 1989 memorandum requiring the use of the tracking system
                             indicated that all site costs were to be input into the system, generally only
                             the costs associated with removal contracts are entered daily into the
                             system. For example, on the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup, the



                             15
                              Generally on-scene coordinators review and approve costs for removal contracts and
                             review costs for technical contracts; project officers generally approve costs for technical
                             contracts.




                             Page 24                                          GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
expenditures ($10.2 million) for the four multi-year removal contracts
were input into the system, but the expenditures ($7 million) for the four
multi-year technical contracts were not. According to EPA officials, part of
the rationale for inputting removal contract costs into the system is that
the type of contract used—“time and materials” contracts—requires more
oversight than some other contract types, such as fixed-price contracts.
That is, the removal contracts provide for specific labor rates but do not
specify the number of hours that may be applied under the contracts.
Most of the technical contracts currently used by the regions are cost
reimbursement contracts and a few are fixed-priced contracts. Further,
the fixed-priced contracts used by the regions will include a cost
reimbursement portion that may cover activities such as contractor travel
and subcontracts, according to a Region III contract official. For example,
the cost reimbursement portion of one of the fixed-price technical
contracts used for the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup was substantial—about
half of the contract cost of $4.4 million was invoiced under the cost
reimbursement portion, according to a Region III contract official. 16 As
with work performed on a time-and-materials basis, cost-reimbursement
work requires appropriate surveillance during performance to provide
reasonable assurance that efficient methods and effective cost controls
are used. In addition, the technical contracts support work at numerous
cleanup sites, and EPA also needs to track site-specific costs as well as
total contract costs. However, because EPA does not consistently use the
contractor cost-tracking system to track the costs incurred under its
technical contracts, complete and consistent cost data on specific cleanup
sites are not readily available.

Although EPA generally does not use the tracking system for technical
contract costs, individual on-scene coordinators in some regions have
required that these costs, as well as others, such as those incurred by state
and federal agencies, be entered into the system. According to two such
on-scene coordinators with whom we spoke, a key benefit of using the
tracking system is that it gives them timely information on costs which
helps them oversee and manage the work. According to an environmental
engineer with EPA’s Environmental Response Team, the benefits of using



16
  This and the other Region III technical contract were negotiated as fixed-price contracts
with cost reimbursement provisions. Under these contracts, contractors provide EPA with
“dedicated teams” that provide technical assistance at set monthly rates for up to a
predetermined amount of time; additional time may be provided at fixed hourly rates; and
other specialized personnel and contractor travel and subcontracting are included among
the items that are paid under the cost reimbursement provisions.




Page 25                                         GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                           the tracking system for all of the contracts would include having
                           consistent cost data about each cleanup site in one place, thereby enabling
                           the agency to quickly respond to the numerous site-specific questions
                           frequently asked by EPA management, the Congress, the Office of
                           Management and Budget, the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
                           and others. For example, using the tracking system one can quickly break
                           out the expenditures into individual cost categories. The four Capitol Hill
                           contracts entered into the tracking system include, in the aggregate,
                           personnel costs of $2.8 million, lodging costs of $1.6 million, and per diem
                           costs of $0.6 million. Using the tracking system, analyses of contract cost
                           categories can be performed on individual contracts and individual sites.
                           However, because technical contracts generally are not included in the
                           tracking system, information on individual cost categories for the entire
                           cleanup is incomplete.

Documentation of Invoice   EPA’s Contracts Management Manual describes responsibilities and
Reviews                    procedures for processing contractors’ invoices. Contract invoices are to
                           be reviewed thoroughly for cost reasonableness and to be processed in a
                           timely manner. While the guidance may be tailored to specific contracts
                           and the use of checklists is optional, EPA’s policy requires documentation
                           to show that the appropriate reviews have been performed. The manual
                           defines the roles of the various staff involved in reviewing and approving
                           invoices. Among the key personnel in this process are the EPA staff who
                           oversee the actual contract work17—primarily on-scene coordinators in the
                           case of the Capitol Hill anthrax site—and the project officer. In general,
                           the staff who oversee the work are responsible for reviewing individual
                           contract costs for reasonableness and informing the project officers of any
                           problems with the costs, such as excess hours charged. The project
                           officers are responsible for reviewing contract invoices for payment and
                           completing and submitting invoice approval forms to EPA’s financial
                           management center for payment. The contract invoices for the removal
                           and technical contracts are typically highly detailed and presented in
                           varying formats.

                           Invoice reviews for removal contracts are generally more standardized
                           across EPA than the invoice reviews for the technical contracts. Regions
                           use varying invoice review approaches for the technical contracts. For
                           example, beginning in November 2002, EPA Region III established a new



                           17
                            EPA staff overseeing the work are referred to as “work assignment managers” in the EPA
                           manual.




                           Page 26                                       GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                              process for reviewing invoices of technical contracts: the relevant EPA
                              staff who oversaw or are overseeing the work at the sites receive monthly
                              site-specific invoices from contractors, and the EPA staff are required to
                              provide a written statement to the EPA project officer either indicating
                              agreement with the costs or identifying questions about them. Region III
                              revised its invoice review process after a new project officer with prior
                              auditing experience was hired. This individual proposed the change to
                              better ensure that invoices were reviewed by the on-site person familiar
                              with the work that was performed—such as the on-scene coordinator—
                              and that the review was documented before invoices were paid. Similarly,
                              Regions V and IX send forms requiring responses to questions about the
                              invoices, along with the monthly invoices, and require the work
                              assignment managers overseeing the contract work to return the
                              completed forms to the project officers.

                              However, before this change, and during the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup,
                              Region III did not require written certification of invoice reviews. Region
                              III’s earlier approach is similar to the one currently used in Region IV,
                              where the project officer sends monthly invoices to the EPA work
                              assignment managers for review and asks them to respond if they have
                              concerns. Lacking a response from an EPA work assignment manager, the
                              project officer approves the invoice for payment after a specified date. In
                              these cases, the agency does not have documentation of the appropriate
                              invoice reviews by the EPA staff who oversaw the contract work. Another
                              variation is used in Region X: the project officer approves the monthly
                              invoices without providing the EPA work assignment manager the
                              opportunity to review them for reasonableness. As a result, the review is
                              performed by an individual who did not oversee the work rather than by
                              on-site staff who know the specifics of the work performed.

Dedicated Administrative      EPA’s on-scene coordinators generally are responsible for managing all
Specialists to Review Costs   aspects of emergency environmental cleanups: organizing, directing, and
                              documenting cleanup actions.18 Specific tasks include conducting field
                              investigations, monitoring on-scene activities, and overseeing the cleanup
                              actions. The on-scene coordinator is also the individual with primary
                              responsibility for ensuring that cleanup costs are managed and tracked as
                              the cleanup progresses. The cost reviews that are required to ensure that



                              18
                                As discussed, at the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup, EPA’s lead on-scene coordinator
                              reported to the Capitol Police Board, and about 50 on-scene coordinators worked at the
                              site during the cleanup.




                              Page 27                                        GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
EPA approves only reasonable and allowable costs are detailed and time-
consuming. An EPA cost management principle for the Superfund
program is that costs can be managed and documented most effectively
from the cleanup site as they occur. However, EPA’s Removal Cost
Management Manual recognizes that the demands on the on-scene
coordinator’s time and attention are great and that, therefore, some cost
management responsibilities have to be delegated to other on-site or off-
site personnel.

To address this workload issue, Region III established an administrative
position to provide on-site cost management support to its on-scene
coordinators. As discussed earlier, one of Region III’s site administrative
officers19 worked on site at the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup, supporting
the lead on-scene coordinator essentially full-time from October 2001
through April 2002 and part-time for several more months. As a result, the
daily costs for four removal contracts were examined, contractor hours
were traced back to sign-in sheets, and equipment deliveries and uses
confirmed. The lead on-scene coordinator could not have conducted these
detailed cost reviews because of other demands, and the other on-scene
coordinators on site (many of whom were assigned to the site for only
several weeks) also were involved overseeing the work being performed
and would not have been able to conduct timely, detailed cost reviews.

Also, as discussed above, one of the lessons EPA learned from its
assessments of its responses to the recent terrorist attacks, including the
anthrax incidents, is that the agency needs to provide more administrative
support to its on-scene coordinators who are responding to threats
associated with terrorist incidents. The 60-Day Counter-Terrorism
Contracting Assessment Final Report specifically said that on-scene
coordinators need increased support to review daily cost reports and
invoices and to process paperwork on-site. Although EPA’s Region III
provides cost management support to its on-scene coordinators on a
routine basis, most of the regions do not have positions dedicated to assist
on-scene coordinators with their cost management responsibilities and,
therefore, do not have trained support staff readily available to augment
large or complex emergency cleanup efforts. Region III, which was
responsible for the contracting for the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup, has
three such positions and was able to provide a site administrative officer



19
 Region III refers to this position as site administrative officer or field administrative
specialist.




Page 28                                            GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                      to perform detailed cost reviews of removal contracts at the Capitol Hill
                      site. Region II also has three similar positions. Five other regions we
                      contacted do not have a similar position.20


                      People in or near the contaminated Capitol Hill buildings could have been
EPA Negotiated        harmed by anthrax that was not successfully removed or by a release of
Indemnification       the chemicals used to decontaminate the buildings. For example, the
                      decontaminant used in the fumigation cleanup method—chlorine dioxide
Agreements with Two   gas—may irritate the respiratory tract at low concentrations and is fatal at
Contractors to        high concentrations. In many cases, contractors can obtain pollution
                      liability insurance to cover harm to third parties that may arise from
Address Their         cleanup activities; in other cases, the cost of such insurance may be
Liability Concerns    prohibitive. In the case of the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup, two
                      contractors with key roles in the fumigation of the Hart Senate Office
                      Building informed EPA that they were not able to obtain such insurance at
                      a reasonable cost, and they requested indemnification. As discussed
                      below, EPA agreed to provide the indemnification authorized by CERCLA
                      to the two contractors, protecting them from the financial liability that
                      could result if a third party were injured by the contractors’ release of a
                      harmful substance, including anthrax.

                      For example, numerous uncertainties about the use of chlorine dioxide
                      gas for this task existed, and IT Corporation—which was tasked to
                      fumigate the Hart office building using chlorine dioxide gas—would not
                      start removal procedures without receiving indemnification from EPA
                      against liability for damages. According to EPA officials, chlorine dioxide
                      had not been used previously for removing anthrax or for fumigating such
                      a large area. After EPA determined that IT Corporation and three of its
                      subcontractors supplying the fumigation chemicals and technologies had
                      diligently sought insurance and none was available at a reasonable price,
                      in November 2001, the agency agreed to provide them with
                      indemnification. Specifically, EPA agreed to compensate IT Corporation
                      and its three subcontractors up to $90 million if they were deemed liable
                      for damages caused by a negligent release of a hazardous substance,
                      pollutant, or contaminant, including but not limited to anthrax and
                      chlorine dioxide. According to EPA officials, the negotiations for the
                      indemnification agreement were completed in about 4 weeks. The
                      indemnification does not cover liability for intentional misconduct or


                      20
                       We contacted regions II, III, IV, V, VIII, IX, and X.




                      Page 29                                             GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
gross negligence. It appears that the cleanup was handled without harmful
incidents occurring. According to EPA officials, neither IT Corporation nor
the subcontractors have sought compensation under the indemnification
agreement.

In December 2001, after the agreement with IT Corporation was in place,
another contractor supporting the fumigation requested and obtained
indemnification. CDM Federal Programs Corporation (CDM), whose
responsibilities included placing the materials to test for the presence of
anthrax during fumigation, received indemnification terms similar to those
granted IT Corporation but with significantly lower compensation
amounts. Specifically, EPA agreed to compensate CDM up to $1 million if
it were deemed liable for damages caused by a negligent release of a
hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant, including but not limited
to anthrax. This indemnification also does not extend to liability arising
from intentional misconduct or gross negligence. Negotiations for this
agreement built on the previously negotiated agreement with IT
Corporation, and, according to EPA officials, were accomplished in about
a week. CDM was already working at the site when it requested
indemnification and continued to work while the negotiations were in
process.

Although IT Corporation required that an indemnification agreement be in
place before it would begin the decontamination of the Hart building, the
cleanup itself was not delayed because other issues needed to be resolved
before IT Corporation started the fumigation process. For example, tests
had to be conducted and then reviewed by EPA, the Capitol Police Board,
and others to confirm that chlorine dioxide had the antimicrobial
properties to effectively destroy anthrax. By the time open issues were
resolved and the decontamination could begin, EPA had reached its
agreement with IT Corporation and its subcontractors. However, in other
emergency cleanups, such negotiations could delay the start of
decontamination work. In this regard, EPA has concluded that in the
future, a more expedient way to indemnify contractors for emergency
situations such as anthrax incidents needs to be in place to prevent delays.
In fact, two of the EPA reviews of its responses to the anthrax incidents
recommended that EPA take steps to expand contractor liability
indemnification to address counter-terrorism response activities. Once
Subtitle G of the recently enacted Homeland Security Act of 2002 is fully
implemented, agency officials believe that their emergency response
contractors will face little or no legal liability to injured third parties if the
contractors use qualified antiterrorism technologies previously approved
by the Secretary of Homeland Security. According to an EPA official, if


Page 30                                    GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                      this act had been in effect at the time of the anthrax cleanup, and the
                      Department of Homeland Security had approved the chlorine dioxide
                      technology, the contractor would not have needed any indemnification
                      protection.


                      In about 3 months and without harm to emergency response workers or
Conclusions           congressional staff, EPA, the Capitol Police Board, and others planned and
                      successfully conducted the first cleanup of office buildings contaminated
                      by a lethal form of anthrax that had caused several deaths elsewhere.
                      Moreover, EPA has taken the initiative to study its response actions to
                      better prepare itself for other emergency cleanups, including other
                      potential terrorism attacks, and has identified areas in which it could
                      improve. Despite the success of the cleanup, our review identified certain
                      inconsistencies in EPA’s contractor cost oversight that may affect its
                      quality. First, regarding tracking contract costs, because few regions use
                      the cost-tracking system for technical as well as removal contracts, EPA
                      does not have readily accessible, consistent contracting data on its
                      cleanup sites. One result of this lack is that the agency was unable to
                      readily respond to your questions about the costs of this cleanup,
                      including the categories of expenditures—how much was spent on
                      personnel, travel, equipment, and so on. In addition, EPA has less
                      assurance that it is providing effective, consistent oversight of its
                      contracts. Second, because EPA has not ensured that all of its regions
                      document the reviews of contractor invoices conducted by cognizant on-
                      site officials, the agency’s ability to ensure that contractors’ charges are
                      accurate and reasonable is lessened. Finally, on-scene coordinators face
                      many competing demands; therefore, their reviews of costs may be less
                      timely than those that can be provided by a specialist working on site to
                      support the on-scene coordinators’ cost reviews. Such administrative
                      support could provide EPA with better assurance that its payments to
                      contractors are appropriately reviewed and adjusted on a routine basis. It
                      could also be readily called upon to conduct these cost reviews during
                      large and complex emergency cleanups, such as those that may stem from
                      terrorism.


                      To enhance its ability to ensure that the agency is providing effective and
Recommendations for   efficient contractor oversight, we recommend that the Administrator of
Executive Action      EPA direct the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response to require

                      •   the regions to track and monitor both technical and removal contract
                          cost data in the agency’s computerized cost-tracking system and


                      Page 31                                 GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                   •   the on-site staff who are responsible for reviewing contractor cleanup
                       costs to certify that they have done so before the costs are approved
                       for payment.

                   In addition, we recommend that the Administrator direct the Office of
                   Solid Waste and Emergency Response to examine whether more or all of
                   the regions should hire specialists—either EPA or contractor staff—to
                   support the on-scene coordinators by providing timely, detailed reviews of
                   contract costs. If EPA uses contractor staff for this purpose, the agency
                   will need to provide appropriate contract oversight and ensure that
                   potential conflicts of interest are identified and mitigated.


                   We provided copies of our draft report to EPA for review and comment. In
Agency Comments    commenting on the draft, the Director of the Contract Management Center
and Our Response   in the Office of Emergency and Remedial Response, Office of Solid Waste
                   and Emergency Response, agreed to (1) consider adding the technical
                   contracts to the computerized cost-tracking system as the agency awards
                   the next round of these multiyear contracts and (2) ensure all regions
                   coordinate with on-site staff for invoice reviews prior to approval. The
                   Director also said that EPA is currently examining providing additional
                   administrative support at cleanup sites and is considering using contractor
                   support when in-house positions are not available.

                   One of the considerations the Director of the Contract Management Center
                   cited regarding the inclusion of the technical contracts in the cost-tracking
                   system is that reengineering the system to fit the different types of
                   technical contracts that EPA uses might involve a considerable expense
                   for the agency. Further, while she acknowledged that the cost tracking
                   system may be particularly applicable when the technical contractors are
                   involved in removal (cleanup) activities, she said the additional cost of
                   using the system may not be justified in some cases, such as for finite
                   work performed under a negotiated work plan or a fixed level of effort.
                   However, we believe reengineering costs may not be a barrier to using the
                   system for both technical and removal contracts. Specifically, the system
                   is already being used to track the costs of some of EPA’s technical
                   contracts. Further, an EPA environmental engineer with extensive
                   experience working with the tracking system told us that changes to the
                   system would not be required to add technical contracts. In addition,
                   effective oversight of both time-and-materials work and cost-
                   reimbursement work is essential to ensure costs are reasonable and
                   accurate. However, currently the tracking system is used to support the
                   on-site review of the time-and-materials work done under the removal


                   Page 32                                 GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
              contracts but not for the contract-reimbursement work done under the
              technical contracts. We believe that the existing tracking system offers
              EPA an economical vehicle for enhancing both its contracting data and its
              contractor oversight by including the technical contracts in the cost
              tracking system as was envisioned when the system was developed.

              Regarding our recommendation that the on-site staff responsible for
              reviewing contractor invoices certify that they have done so before the
              costs are approved for payment, the Director agreed to require all EPA
              regions to coordinate their invoice reviews with the on-site staff before
              approving invoices for payment. If EPA requires the reviewers in all the
              regions to certify their invoice reviews—as we recommend and as some
              EPA regions currently do—the agency will be fully responsive to our
              recommendation. Such a requirement will provide greater assurance that
              the invoices EPA approves are accurate and reasonable.

              EPA told us that it is currently examining the issue of additional
              administrative support at cleanup sites by either EPA staff or contractors,
              and we have revised our recommendation to take into account concerns
              that would arise if EPA delegated its contract cost review function to
              contractors.

              EPA agreed that the information the report provides on the
              indemnification agreements that the agency negotiated with two
              contractors is accurate but suggested that the report also discuss the
              limitations of the indemnification that EPA can provide under CERCLA.
              As our report accurately addresses the extent to which EPA agreed to
              indemnify contractors against liability for potential damages related to the
              cleanup, we believe that a broader discussion of indemnification issues is
              not necessary.

              To determine the costs to EPA of removing anthrax from the Capitol Hill
Scope and     site, we obtained and reviewed cost information from the agency’s Office
Methodology   of the Chief Financial Officer. We discussed cleanup estimates and
              contract costs for the Capitol Hill anthrax site with EPA financial and
              contract staff. We also obtained detailed cost information on four of EPA’s
              removal contracts that was available from EPA’s Removal Cost
              Management System, the database that tracks costs by site and cost
              categories. We were not able to obtain this level of detailed cost
              information for all contractors because EPA does not use this database for
              all the contractors who work at cleanup sites. To determine how EPA’s
              costs for the cleanup were funded, we reviewed relevant EPA financial
              documentation and appropriations legislation that reimbursed the


              Page 33                                 GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
agency’s Superfund program for expenditures associated with the
resources used on the cleanup. We did not validate or verify these data.

To determine the extent to which the contracts used at the Capitol Hill
anthrax site were competitively awarded, we reviewed EPA regional
contract documents and discussed the competitive contract process EPA
used with agency contract officials. We obtained and reviewed EPA
noncompetitively awarded contract documents and the regulations that
the agency is required to follow to justify awarding such contracts. We
reviewed contracts and agency reports to identify the roles and tasks of
the contractors that participated in the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup and
discussed specific contract roles and tasks with EPA officials who were
responsible for the cleanup.

To describe the extent to which EPA oversaw contractors’ work on the
Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup to ensure it was done appropriately and the
charges were reasonable, we interviewed Region III contract officials and
the site administrative officer who oversaw four contracts during the
cleanup. We also examined documentation of the oversight provided by
reviewing Capitol Hill site contracting files. We reviewed documentation
of, and talked with agency officials about, the current contract oversight
practices EPA uses, including staff responsibilities for cost oversight and
the use of the contractor cost tracking system. In addition, in part because
of delays in obtaining contract information, we surveyed the 63 EPA
personnel whom the agency identified as having provided contractor
oversight to obtain information on their roles in overseeing the
contractors’ cleanup work for the Capitol Hill anthrax site. Using a Web-
based survey, we received responses from 56 individuals, a response rate
of 89 percent. We also interviewed nine EPA personnel who the survey
identified as having spent considerable time at the cleanup site performing
contract oversight. In addition, we reviewed four EPA assessments that
either focused on or included the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup and that
identified contract oversight issues and recommendations. We obtained
information on actions EPA has taken or is taking to respond to the
recommendations addressing contracting issues.

To describe EPA’s indemnification of contractors against liability for
potential damages, we reviewed CERCLA provisions and EPA guidance
governing indemnity authority, as well as contract modifications regarding
indemnification that EPA made to two contracts used for the Capitol Hill
anthrax cleanup. We also discussed with EPA officials how the
indemnification process affected the Capitol Hill anthrax cleanup.



Page 34                                 GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
We conducted our review from June 2002 through May 2003 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards.


As agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents of
this report earlier, we plan no further distribution until 14 days after the
report date. At that time, we will send copies of this report to the
Administrator of EPA and other interested parties. We will make copies
available to others upon request. In addition, the report will be available at
no charge on GAO’s Web site at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff have any questions, please call me at (202) 512-3841.
Key contributors to this report are listed in appendix II.

Sincerely yours,




John B. Stephenson
Director, Natural Resources
 and Environment




Page 35                                  GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                                    Appendix I: Contract Tasks and Roles
Appendix I: Contract Tasks and Roles



Contract                Purpose               Task/role performed

Competitively awarded contracts

IT Corporation          Removal               Prepare buildings for decontamination. Conduct and support decontamination
                                              operations, including fumigation with chlorine dioxide gas. Decontaminate
                                              interior surfaces of buildings, other structures, cars, and other vessels. Provide
                                              for collection, containment, and transportation and disposal of contaminated
                                              materials from the site operations.

                                              Provide support to EPA sampling teams and other federal responders, including
                                              response technicians, to assist with decontamination activities.

Tetra Tech EM, Inc.     Technical             Provide the on-scene coordinator and incident commander fumigation design
                                              procedures, including details on fumigant delivery; concentration; operating
                                              conditions, such as temperature and humidity; fumigant containment and
                                              recovery; and monitoring of parameters. Provide detailed design for delivery of
                                              fumigant, equipment requirements and specifications, flow schematics, and
                                              detailed schedules and operating procedures to use during fumigation. Provide
                                              a chlorine dioxide specialist to assist EPA in overseeing the fumigation setup.

                                              Provide technical support to the on-scene coordinator in developing chronology
                                              of events at the site, including researching various files, documents, and
                                              logbooks in order to develop a comprehensive report.

                                              Monitor and assist with the oversight of the chlorine dioxide fumigation process.
                                              Assist with health and safety matters at the site, conduct sampling, assist and
                                              oversee off-gassing, inventory, and return items being treated.

                                              Support the on-scene coordinator in conducting presentations and briefings
                                              related to post-treatment and design of chlorine dioxide use in the heating,
                                              ventilation, and air-conditioning system.

                                              Sample a small number of critical items (plastic, leather, and polyester) for
                                              ethylene oxide and its derivations to determine how the ethylene oxide and its
                                              derivatives are maintained in the materials and off-gas over time.

Earth Tech, Inc.        Removal               Provide decontamination services and other direct support to sampling teams.
                                              Decontaminate interior surfaces of buildings, other structures, and interior and
                                              exterior surfaces of cars and other vessels identified by the on-scene
                                              coordinator. Collect all expended cleaning agents and materials for treatment
                                              and/or disposal.

                                              Provide decontamination facilities and services for response personnel and
                                              their equipment. Inventory items—segregating clean and contaminated
                                              materials and salvageable and expendable items—and provide documentation
                                              of inventoried items.

                                              Propose a decontamination strategy for critical items (including personal items
                                              such as photographs, framed diplomas, and equipment). Decontaminate critical
                                              and salvageable items from the Capitol Complex, including setting up work
                                              zones for items to be decontaminated and for personnel decontamination.




                                    Page 36                                          GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                                     Appendix I: Contract Tasks and Roles




Contract                 Purpose               Task/role performed

                                               Return property after decontamination.

                                               Provide contamination reduction and isolation facilities and operations that
                                               improve and ensure safe access to contaminated areas and items and
                                               prevent further spread of contamination.

Environmental Quality    Removal               Provide personnel and equipment, including portable decontamination
Management, Inc.                               facility. Collect expended cleaning agents and materials for treatment
                                               and/or disposal. Dispose of materials or items that could not be
                                               decontaminated.

CDM Federal Programs     Support               Oversee preparation, handling, placement, and collection of spore strips used
Corporation                                    during fumigation with chlorine dioxide gas and ethylene oxide gas. Develop a
                                               procedure for spore strip emplacement; removal; and critical item tagging,
                                               tracking, and shipping.

                                               Provide sampling such as swipe and high efficiency particulate air (HEPA)
                                               vacuum (including efforts to collect, prepare, and ship samples), item
                                               decontamination, and minor remediation work.

                                               Support critical item degassing activities in Beltsville, Maryland. Maintain critical
                                               item inventories and coordinate the release and return of critical items to
                                               congressional staffers.

                                               Support chlorine dioxide decontamination of congressional mail packages.

Roy F. Weston, Inc.      Technical             Develop various documents/plans to be used during the response activities
                                               (e.g., standard operating procedures for sampling, decontamination, source
                                               reduction). Provide reconnaissance, photo documentation, and sampling of
                                               congressional office buildings.

                                               Provide technical support for the selection and implementation of
                                               decontamination procedures; building-specific plan development for anthrax
                                               remediation, including sampling plans, isolation plans, decontamination plans,
                                               and item recovery plans; and sampling support for anthrax analysis using
                                               HEPA and wipe sampling techniques; perform oversight of removal crews.
                                               Provide swab and HEPA sampling and decontamination support.

                                               Provide bag-and-tag operations of critical and salvageable items in
                                               congressional office buildings. Provide air monitoring operations during
                                               chlorine dioxide fumigation operations.

Ecology & Environment,   Technical             Develop sampling and decontamination plans, sample labels and chain-of-
Inc.                                           custodies, and maps to support sampling activities and to track sampling
                                               results.

                                               Perform sampling, monitoring, and decontamination of areas in the Capitol Hill
                                               complex. Conduct sampling tracking and handling activities, including preparing
                                               samples for shipping.

                                               Compile and review background data and organize site documentation files.




                                     Page 37                                           GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                                      Appendix I: Contract Tasks and Roles




Contract                  Purpose               Task/role performed

                                                Provide technical support to the operations section and support to the EPA
                                                Mobile Lab.

Lockheed Martin           Support               Assist in monitoring temperature and relative humidity inside office buildings
                                                and in monitoring chlorine dioxide, chlorine, wind speed and direction,
                                                temperature and relative humidity in surrounding area.

                                                Assist with development and evaluation of anthrax fumigation procedures using
                                                spore strips in a test facility and train other contractors in the handling and
                                                placement of spore strips in the office building.

                                                Provide ambient air monitoring for chlorine dioxide using tape meters and a
                                                portable meteorological tower to document that no chlorine dioxide is being
                                                emitted from the treatment area. Provide on-site assistance to ensure that
                                                spore strip sampling is being conducted properly and that data management is
                                                being performed accurately and completely.

Guardian Environmental    Removal               Assist in the removal of items from the contaminated office suites in the
Services, Inc.                                  congressional office buildings, including removal of contaminated office
                                                furniture, office equipment, and carpet. Construct isolation chambers,
                                                decontamination chambers, and other related structures.

URS Operating Services,   Technical             Provide sampling for anthrax in the Capitol Hill complex.
Inc.

MVM Security & Staffing   Security              Provide security personnel to staff the single entrance/exit and to patrol
Services                                        perimeter of the storage location used for property removed from U.S. Senate
                                                offices during the cleanup to ensure that no unauthorized personnel enter the
                                                work area and assure that property items are not removed from the work area
                                                without approval of EPA.

TSI, Inc.                 Supplies              Provide Porta Count plus respirator fit tester.

Noncompetitively awarded contracts

Kemron Environmental      Technical             Perform air sampling and perform HEPA vacuuming services.
Services, Inc.
                                                Remove critical items and documents, spray affected areas with chlorine
                                                dioxide, and perform cleaning and breakdown of work zones.

                                                Assist EPA in the evaluation of possible remediation of the heating,
                                                ventilation, and air-conditioning system, including evaluation of affected
                                                areas, and construction of critical barriers inside the ductwork to isolate affected
                                                areas from uncontaminated areas. After fumigation of the affected heating,
                                                ventilation, and air conditioning system, provide confirmatory sampling support,
                                                interior duct sampling, additional cleaning of the system (including post-
                                                fumigation scrub down inside the ducts), and removal of duct insulation.

HMHTTC Response           Removal               Perform cleanup activities, including construction and removal of isolation
Team, Inc.                                      barriers, HEPA vacuuming operations, and application of liquid chlorine dioxide.

                                                Provide 24-hour support for decontamination and rescue operations at the
                                                Capitol Hill anthrax site.




                                      Page 38                                           GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                                              Appendix I: Contract Tasks and Roles




Contract                    Purpose                     Task/role performed

Southwest Research          Laboratory work             Provide analysis of spore strips placed in various locations during cleanup
Institute                                               operations. Receive and perform daily observations of thousands of spore
                                                        strips.

University of California—   Technical                   Participate in and support program plan development relating to spore
Berkeley Sponsored                                      sterilization technologies for remediation of federal facilities.
Projects Office
                                                        Develop experimental and field test plans and methodologies for
                                                        characterization/modeling spore killing processes and kinetics and factors that
                                                        affect the efficacy of spore killing in field-scale applications.

                                                        Establish laboratory systems for the measurement of gas phase sporicidal
                                                        effects at federal office and mail facilities. Provide laboratory analytical support
                                                        for measurement of gas phase sporicidal effects. Develop experimental and
                                                        test plans and methodologies for assessing and validating spore killing
                                                        processes.

                                                        Determine the concentrations of chlorine dioxide needed to decontaminate
                                                        anthrax on Capitol Hill. Prepare 31,500 test strips containing a bacillus similar
                                                        to anthrax and send to Capitol Hill. The exposed strips will be sent to labs and
                                                        results then will be sent to the University of California, Berkeley, to be included
                                                        in a consolidated final report.

Silva Consulting            Technical                   Maintain sample management system software in a private, secure
Services,                                               environment on the Internet. Provide EPA personnel and designated contractor
LLC                                                     personnel secure, controlled access to the database. This system could
                                                        generate a large variety of reports to address particular questions about
                                                        sampling results.

Science Applications        Technical                   Provide consulting services to EPA on-scene coordinator in environmental
International Corporation                               remediation of anthrax-contaminated buildings in the Capitol Hill complex.
                                                        Support includes data interpretation of the spore strips used to test the efficacy
                                                        of the kill of anthrax, data validation, review of documents, assistance in
                                                        document preparation, and report writing. Coordinate efforts with the University
                                                        of California, Berkeley.

Biomarine, Inc.             Supplies                    Provide equipment that includes biopaks, facemasks, oxygen cylinders, gel
                                                        tubes, foam scrubbers, coolant canister foam, flow restrictors, and biopak
                                                        service and retrofit kits.

Envirofoam                  Supplies                    Provide Sandia foam and backpack dispensing units.
Technologies, Inc.

Safeware, Inc.              Supplies                    Provide respirators with battery and cartridge.

Airgas Safety               Supplies                    Provide air purifying respirators.

Sabre Oxidation             Technical                   Provide engineering support during the assessment of the feasibility and
Technologies, Inc.                                      design of the systems for fumigating air handling return system.

U.S. Art Company, Inc.      Technical                   Provide training on proper procedures for handling, packaging, and
                                                        decontaminating artifacts (paintings, sculptures, and other art forms) from the
                                                        Hart Senate Office Building.




                                              Page 39                                           GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                                      Appendix I: Contract Tasks and Roles




 Contract                  Purpose              Task/role performed

 Mine Safety Appliances    Supplies             Provide self-contained breathing apparatus system.

 Coastal Safety & Health   Supplies             Provide indoor air quality meter.
 Services, Inc.

 New Horizons              Supplies             Provide anthrax detection kits.
 Diagnostics Corporation
Source: EPA.




                                      Page 40                                        GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
                  Appendix II: GAO Contacts and Staff
Appendix II: GAO Contacts and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  John B. Stephenson (202) 512-3841
GAO Contacts      Christine Fishkin (202) 512-6895


                  In addition to those named above, Heather Balent, Greg Carroll, Nancy
Acknowledgments   Crothers, Richard Johnson, and Susan Lawes made key contributions to
                  this report.




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                  Page 41                               GAO-03-686 Capitol Hill Anthrax Incident
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