oversight

EPA Grants to Tribes: Additional Actions Needed to Effectively Address Tribal Environmental Concerns

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2020-11-19.

This report is unreleased, or missing. Visit its landing page for more detail.

               United States Government Accountability Office
               Report to Congressional Requesters




               EPA GRANTS TO
October 2020




               TRIBES

               Additional Actions
               Needed to Effectively
               Address Tribal
               Environmental
               Concerns




GAO-21-150
                                                October 2020

                                                EPA GRANTS TO TRIBES
                                                Additional Actions Needed to Effectively Address
                                                Tribal Environmental Concerns
Highlights of GAO-21-150, a report to
congressional requesters




Why GAO Did This Study                          What GAO Found
Hundreds of tribal environmental                The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded over $985 million to Indian
programs operate across the nation              tribes through 43 different grant programs from fiscal years 2014 through 2019,
to protect human health and                     according to agency data from EPA’s Integrated Grants Management System.
safeguard the environment. Many of              For example, EPA awarded grants for the Indian Environmental General
these programs are supported, at                Assistance Program—which assists tribes in developing their environmental
least in part, by EPA grants. Some              programs—and for programs to prevent air and water pollution directly to tribes.
tribes have raised concerns that a
lack of resources threatens their               Tribes used EPA grants to support a variety of activities. For example, the
ability to operate tribal environmental         Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Colorado told GAO it has used EPA grant funding to
programs.                                       monitor methane emissions and help reduce this greenhouse gas. The
                                                equipment on the tribe’s vehicle, shown below, identifies methane leaks from
GAO was asked to review EPA
grants to tribes. This report examines
                                                broken pipes. The Jicarilla Apache Nation in New Mexico uses an EPA grant to
(1) the amount and types of grants              educate its community and others across the country about the dangers of
EPA awarded to tribes for fiscal years          radon—a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause cancer—and how to
2014 through 2019; (2) how tribes               mitigate exposure. Jicarilla Apache officials told GAO that radon exposure is a
used these grants; and (3) challenges           priority for the tribe because of above-average cancer rates.
EPA and tribes identified in
                                                Mobile Methane Detection Equipment Funded by an Environmental Protection Agency Grant
addressing environmental concerns               to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe
through grants, and EPA’s actions to
address these challenges. GAO
reviewed laws, policies, and grant
documentation; assessed EPA data
on the types and amount of grants
provided to tribes; and interviewed
EPA officials as well as 10 tribes and
one intertribal consortium selected to
highlight different EPA regions and
grant types, for nongeneralizable
information about EPA grants and
related challenges.

What GAO Recommends
GAO is making five
                                                EPA and tribal officials whom GAO interviewed identified financial, staffing, and
recommendations to EPA, including
that EPA update guidance on PPGs.               communication challenges to addressing tribal environmental concerns through
EPA agreed with three                           EPA grants. The most common challenge identified by EPA and tribes was
recommendations and disagreed with              stagnating or declining amounts directed by congressional committees or
two, noting that it believes it has             allocated by EPA for certain grants. EPA has taken some actions to address this
already taken actions that address              challenge, such as by promoting the use of Performance Partnership Grants
these recommendations. GAO                      (PPG). These allow tribes to combine grant awards, thus providing greater
continues to believe the                        flexibility to address financial gaps. However, EPA best practices guidance on
recommendations are warranted, as               PPGs is limited and outdated. EPA staff in some regions restricted the movement
discussed in the report.                        of funds between grants in a PPG, although the regulation allows for such
                                                movement. EPA officials said they are studying the use of PPGs but did not have
                                                plans to update the agency’s best practices guidance. Updating this guidance
View GAO-21-150. For more information,          could help ensure EPA staff more consistently allow the movement of funds
contact J. Alfredo Gomez at (202) 512-3841 or   between grants in a PPG, thereby increasing funding flexibilities for tribes to
gomezj@gao.gov or Anna Maria Ortiz at           address their environmental concerns.
ortiza@gao.gov.
                                                                                          United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                   1
               Background                                                               5
               EPA Awarded Over $985 Million to Indian Tribes and Other Tribal
                  Entities through 43 Diverse Grant Programs for Fiscal Years
                  2014 through 2019                                                    11
               Tribes Have Used EPA Grants to Address Numerous Tribal
                  Environmental Concerns                                               16
               EPA and Tribal Officials Identified Several Challenges in Using
                  Grants, and EPA Has Taken Some Actions to Address Them               25
               Conclusions                                                             39
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                    40
               Agency Comments                                                         41

Appendix I     Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                      46



Appendix II    EPA Grant Awards to Federally Recognized Tribes and Other Tribal
               Entities, Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019                                51



Appendix III   Comments from the Environmental Protection Agency                       57



Appendix IV    GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                   61


Tables
               Table 1: Examples of Laws Authorizing Environmental Protection
                       Agency (EPA) Grants to Tribes                                    8
               Table 2: Total Dollar Amount (in millions) of Environmental
                       Protection Agency (EPA) Grants Awarded Directly to
                       Tribes and Number of Grantees by EPA Region for Fiscal
                       Years 2014 through 2019                                         15
               Table 3: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grants Awarded
                       Directly to Federally Recognized Tribes and Other Tribal
                       Entities, Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019                        51




               Page i                                       GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Figures
          Figure 1: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regions and
                   Number of Federally Recognized Tribes in Each Region             6
          Figure 2: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grant Life Cycle         10
          Figure 3: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grant Amounts
                   Awarded Directly to Tribes and Other Tribal Entities for
                   Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019                                  13
          Figure 4: Dust Clouds Rising from Owens Lake in California               17
          Figure 5: Educational Poster on Radon Funded with a Grant from
                   the Environmental Protection Agency                             18
          Figure 6: Boundary Map of the Pueblo de San Ildefonso and Los
                   Alamos National Laboratory                                      21
          Figure 7: Methane Detection Equipment Funded with a Grant from
                   the Environmental Protection Agency Identifies Methane
                   Leaks from Underground Pipes                                    23
          Figure 8: Stream Bank Restoration Efforts on Spring Creek in
                   Colorado                                                        24
          Figure 9: Amounts of Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)
                   Annual Appropriation Directed to the Indian General
                   Assistance Program and Tribal Air Quality Management
                   and EPA’s Annual Allocation for Clean Water Act section
                   106 Tribal Grants, Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019               26




          Page ii                                       GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Abbreviations

AIEO           American Indian Environmental Office
CFDA           Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
EPA            Environmental Protection Agency
GAP            Indian Environmental General Assistance Program
IGMS           Integrated Grants Management System
OCIR           Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations
OGD            Office of Grants and Debarment
OIG            Office of the Inspector General
OITA           Office of International and Tribal Affairs
OMB            Office of Management and Budget
PM             particulate matter
PPG            Performance Partnership Grant
QAPP           quality assurance project plan
RTOC           Regional Tribal Operations Committee
STAG           State and Tribal Assistance Grant
TAS            treatment as a state



This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety
without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain
copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be
necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately.




Page iii                                                  GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                       Letter




441 G St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20548




                       October 20, 2020

                       Congressional Requesters:

                       Tribal environmental programs are critical in protecting human health and
                       safeguarding the environment in the United States, and hundreds of tribal
                       environmental programs operate across the nation. For example,
                       according to tribal officials in Minnesota, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa
                       Indians and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe have water programs that
                       monitor around 400 lakes, hundreds of miles of streams and rivers, and
                       over 400,000 acres of wetlands, which account for about 20 percent of
                       surface waters within the state boundaries of Minnesota. In addition, the
                       Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Colorado operates a work vehicle with air
                       monitoring equipment attached to detect methane leaks that are invisible
                       to the naked eye. 1 If leaks are detected, the tribe works with operators to
                       ensure the leaks are repaired, thereby reducing emissions of a significant
                       greenhouse gas. These tribes’ monitoring efforts are a small part of the
                       tribal programs that address environmental concerns about the air, water,
                       and land across the United States.

                       Grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are a significant
                       source of support for tribal environmental programs. 2 EPA awards and
                       manages grants at multiple levels across the agency, including through
                       the American Indian Environmental Office (AIEO) in the Office of
                       International and Tribal Affairs (OITA), eight other national program
                       offices in headquarters, and regional program offices in EPA’s 10

                       1The National Aeronautics and Space Administration identified southwest Colorado as a
                       methane hotspot. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, methane—a
                       greenhouse gas—impacts climate change 25 times more than carbon dioxide when
                       compared pound to pound, although methane emissions are one-eighth the volume of
                       carbon dioxide emissions.
                       2EPA   provides financial assistance to recipients through various agreements, such as
                       grants and cooperative agreements. With grants, EPA is not expected to have substantial
                       involvement with the recipient in carrying out its activities. In contrast, with cooperative
                       agreements, EPA is expected to have substantial involvement. For the purposes of this
                       report, we refer to EPA grants and cooperative agreements as grants and refer to all
                       recipients as grantees, unless specified otherwise. GAO has previously reported on EPA
                       grants in GAO, Grants Management: EPA Could Improve Certain Monitoring Practices,
                       GAO-16-530 (Washington, D.C.: July 14, 2016) and on EPA grants management
                       personnel in GAO, Grants Management: EPA Partially Follows Leading Practices of
                       Strategic Workforce Planning and Could Take Additional Steps, GAO-17-144
                       (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 9, 2017).




                       Page 1                                                     GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
regions. 3 EPA’s Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) develops national
grant policies and guidance, and it oversees EPA’s administrative grants
management agency-wide.

EPA administers several environmental grant programs that are
exclusively for federally recognized tribes and, in some cases, intertribal
consortia. 4 In addition, Indian tribes and other tribal entities are eligible to
apply for other grants administered by EPA. 5 However, some tribes have
expressed concern that a lack of resources may threaten their ability to
operate tribal environmental programs.

You asked us to review EPA’s grants to tribes. 6 This report examines (1)
the amount and types of grants EPA awarded to tribes for fiscal years
2014 through 2019; (2) how tribes have used these grants; and (3)
challenges tribes and EPA identified in addressing environmental
concerns through grants, and EPA’s actions to address these challenges.

To examine the grant amounts and types EPA has awarded tribes, we
worked with EPA OGD officials to gather information on all grants
awarded to Indian tribes and other tribal entities for fiscal years 2014
through 2019 from EPA’s Integrated Grants Management System



3The nine national program offices in headquarters are the offices of the Administrator;
Mission Support; Air and Radiation; Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention;
Enforcement and Compliance Assurance; International and Tribal Affairs; Land and
Emergency Management; Research and Development; and Water. The 10 regional offices
are Region 1 (Boston); Region 2 (New York City); Region 3 (Philadelphia); Region 4
(Atlanta); Region 5 (Chicago); Region 6 (Dallas); Region 7 (Kansas City); Region 8
(Denver); Region 9 (San Francisco); and Region 10 (Seattle).
4As  of October 8, 2020, there are 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States. An
intertribal consortium is a partnership between two or more tribes that is authorized by the
governing bodies of those tribes to apply for and receive assistance under an EPA grant
program.
5For purposes of this report, other tribal entities include intertribal consortia; nonprofits
created by corporations established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act;
and tribal housing authorities, among others. These other tribal entities have self-reported
as an “Indian Tribe” in their EPA grant applications.
6For purposes of this report, we use the term “grants to tribes” to indicate any grants and
cooperative agreements awarded directly to federally recognized Indian tribes and other
tribal entities, unless specified otherwise. These are awards provided directly from EPA to
a federally recognized tribe or other tribal entity, not through other parties such as states
or other federal agencies.




Page 2                                                     GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
(IGMS). 7 To assess the reliability of the data, we reviewed
documentation, such as the IGMS database dictionary; interviewed EPA
OGD officials about the database, including how data are entered into the
system and quality controlled; and conducted logic testing to identify any
obvious errors. Through this assessment and based on conversations
with EPA OGD and other EPA offices, we determined that these data
were sufficiently reliable for our purposes of identifying the grant amounts
and types EPA has awarded directly to tribes. 8

To examine how tribes have used these grants, we obtained
documentation and interviewed officials from 10 tribes and one intertribal
consortium. We selected these tribes based on geographic location,
diversity of grant types and award amounts received, and size and
capacity of the tribal environmental program. We spoke in-person or over
the phone with, or obtained written responses via email from, the
Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians in California; Big Pine Paiute Tribe of
the Owens Valley in California; Colorado River Indian Tribes in California
and Arizona; Morongo Band of Mission Indians in California; Red Lake
Band of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota; Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in
Minnesota; Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona; and the Northwest Indian
Fisheries Commission, which consists of 20 tribes in Washington. We
also conducted site visits to observe projects and programs with the
Pueblo de San Ildefonso and Jicarilla Apache Nation in New Mexico and
the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Colorado, which were selected based on
their geographic location regarding EPA regions, the diversity of EPA
grant types and amounts, and the varying sizes and capacities of the
tribal environmental programs. 9 We obtained related documentation from
these selected sites, as available, to corroborate testimonial evidence.
We also attended the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals

7IGMS is EPA’s management information system for grant programs. The data on
determining applicant type as an “Indian Tribe” is self-reported by the grant recipients. We
did not verify whether each recipient was eligible to receive the grant it was awarded.
8IGMS   tracks grant transactions throughout the life of the grant. On a multiyear award,
funding may only be awarded in specific years, especially the first year. We identified all
grants awarded by EPA directly to tribes for fiscal years 2014 through 2019 where at least
one grant action occurred during that time frame. IGMS does not track any activities
associated with interagency agreements, such as agreements with the Indian Health
Service to transfer money for the Drinking Water Tribal Set-Aside program from EPA to
the Indian Health Service. EPA, based on a previous GAO recommendation in
GAO-16-530, is working to update interagency agreement tracking and expects a new
system to be implemented by December 2020.
9The Bureau of Indian Affairs lists the name of the Pueblo de San Ildefonso as the Pueblo
of San Ildefonso, New Mexico.




Page 3                                                     GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Annual Conference in Palm Springs, California, in August 2019, and the
Annual Region 9 Tribal Operations Committee Meeting and Conference
in Maricopa, Arizona, in October 2019. The tribal activities discussed in
this report are a sample of the ongoing efforts we heard about in
interviews and at conferences, and the results of our interviews with
selected tribes or the intertribal consortium are not generalizable but
provide examples of different uses of EPA grants.

To examine challenges EPA and tribal officials identified in addressing
environmental concerns through grants as well as EPA’s actions to
address these challenges, we obtained documentation from and
interviewed EPA officials from the Office of Air and Radiation, the Office
of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations (OCIR), the Office of
Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, OITA, the Office of Land and
Emergency Management, the Office of Water, and all 10 EPA regions.
We obtained documentation and interviewed officials from the 10 selected
tribes and the intertribal consortium discussed above about challenges in
using EPA grants and actions EPA has taken to assist tribes in
addressing these challenges. We also gathered information from tribal
officials who presented on challenges at the two conferences we attended
in order to identify tribes for future interviews and to inform our set of
semistructured questions we asked to the selected tribes and intertribal
consortium. To review the actions EPA has taken, we also assessed
EPA’s policies, procedures, and guidance against federal standards for
internal control. 10 Appendix I presents a more detailed description of our
objectives, scope, and methodology.

We conducted this performance audit from July 2019 to October 2020, in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
conclusions based on our audit objectives.




10GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO-14-704G
(Washington, D.C.: September 2014).




Page 4                                               GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Background
Relationship between   The federal government recognizes Indian tribes as distinct, independent
Federally Recognized   political entities that possess certain powers of self-government. As of
                       October 8, 2020, there were 574 federally recognized Indian tribes. 11 The
Tribes and EPA
                       federal government has a government-to-government relationship with
                       Indian tribes and a trust responsibility to tribes and their members based
                       on treaties, federal laws, and court decisions. EPA works directly with
                       tribes and uses grants and cooperative agreements to help protect
                       human health and safeguard the environment. Each fiscal year, EPA
                       awards grants to tribes for projects, such as conducting environmental
                       research and developing regulatory programs. The figure below highlights
                       the locations of EPA regions and the number of federally recognized
                       tribes in each region, as of October 8, 2020.




                       1185   Fed. Reg. 5462 (Jan. 30, 2020).




                       Page 5                                         GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Figure 1: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regions and Number of Federally Recognized Tribes in Each Region




                                       a
                                        Region 2 also serves Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
                                       b
                                        Region 9 also serves American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the
                                       Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.


EPA Administration of                  Awarding and managing grants involves numerous offices across EPA,
Grant Programs                         including nine national program offices in headquarters and 10 regional




                                       Page 6                                                           GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
offices. 12 National program offices in EPA headquarters in Washington,
D.C., develop national policies for grant programs and implement and
oversee the technical and program-specific aspects of grants
administered at the headquarters level. 13 Regional offices award most
grants and provide administrative, technical, and program-specific
oversight for grants administered at the regional level. According to EPA
officials, two key staff positions perform most grants management
activities:

•   Grant specialists. Grant specialists typically manage the
    administrative aspects of grants on a full-time basis. For example,
    they review grant application budgets, prepare grant awards and any
    amendments for official signature, and monitor grants for compliance
    with administrative requirements. They are also responsible for,
    among other things, providing administrative guidance and direction to
    grantees and project officers. For example, grant specialists may
    interpret and clarify agency policies and regulations and provide
    advice and counsel on payment procedures and other administrative
    matters.
•   Project officers. Project officers are assigned to individual grants
    according to their subject matter expertise, and they typically manage
    the programmatic and technical aspects of grants. In addition to
    managing grants, project officers may have non-grant-related
    responsibilities, such as managing aspects of EPA programs. The
    grant-related responsibilities of project officers include providing
    technical assistance to grantees and overseeing grantees to ensure
    they meet the programmatic goals of the grant. For example, project
    officers may negotiate work plans with grantees. These work plans
    outline EPA’s and grantees’ agreed-upon goals; objectives; activities;
    time frames; and contributions to program results, among other
    things. Project officers may work with grantees to clarify or further
    refine the discussion of environmental results in their work plans and
    ensure that the work plans link to EPA’s strategic goals.




12Grant awards are a large part of EPA’s budget. For example, in 2015, EPA awarded
roughly $3.9 billion—about 49 percent of its budget—in grants to states, local
governments, tribes, and other recipients.
13For example, Office of Air and Radiation officials said they provided a grant directly to
the Pala Band of Mission Indians in California in 2016 that did not go through the Region 9
Office.




Page 7                                                    GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Laws and Regulations                                         Multiple laws, such as the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act
Governing EPA Grants to                                      Amendments of 1996, authorize EPA to award grants. Each law has
                                                             different eligibility requirements for grant recipients and activities.
Tribes
                                                             Examples of laws authorizing EPA grants to tribes are described in table
                                                             1. For more information on EPA grant programs, see appendix II.

Table 1: Examples of Laws Authorizing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grants to Tribes

 Law                                               EPA grant examples
 Clean Air Act, section 105                        Authorizes EPA to award grants to tribes for implementing programs for the prevention and
                                                   control of air pollution or implementation of the national ambient air quality standards. These
                                                   grants are known as the Air Pollution Control Support Program Clean Air Act section 105 grants.
 Clean Water Act, section 106                      Authorizes EPA to award grants to tribes to assist them in administering programs for the
                                                   prevention, reduction, and elimination of pollution. These grants are known as Water Pollution
                                                   Control Grant Program (Clean Water Act section 106) grants.
 Comprehensive Environmental                       Authorizes EPA to award grants to tribes to, among other things, establish or enhance programs
 Response, Compensation, and                       to respond to the release, or threatened release, of hazardous substances. These grants are
 Liability Act, section 128(a)                     known as State and Tribal Response Program grants.
 Energy Policy Act of 2005, section Authorizes EPA to award grants to eligible tribal agencies to achieve significant reductions in
 792                                diesel emissions. These grants are known as Diesel Emissions Reduction Act tribal grants.
 Federal Insecticide, Fungicide,                   Authorizes EPA to award cooperative agreements to Indian tribes to train and certify pesticide
 and Rodenticide Act, section                      applicators. These grants are known as Pesticide Applicator Certification and Training grants.
 23(a)(2)
 Indian Environmental General                      Authorizes EPA to award grants to tribes for planning, developing, and establishing environmental
 Assistance Program Act of 1992                    protection programs as well as development and implementation of solid and hazardous waste
                                                   programs for Indian lands. These grants are known as Indian Environmental General Assistance
                                                   Program grants.
 Omnibus Consolidated                              Authorizes Performance Partnership Grants, which enable tribes to combine eligible grant funds
 Rescissions and Appropriations                    from more than one environmental program grant into a single grant with a single budget. A
 Act of 1996 and Department of                     Performance Partnership Grant is not an independent source of funding but rather a means of
 Veterans Affairs and Housing and                  providing certain grants authorized by other laws to tribes.
 Urban Development and
 Independent Agencies
 Appropriations Act, 1998
 Toxic Substances Control Act,                     EPA regulations state that Indoor Radon grants may be awarded to tribes and intertribal consortia
 section 306                                       to assist in the development and implementation of programs for the assessment and mitigation
                                                   of radon under section 306 of the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Source: GAO analysis of laws and regulations. │ GAO-21-150

                                                             Note: Other tribal entities, such as intertribal consortia, may be eligible to receive some of these
                                                             grants in addition to federally recognized tribes. These examples of EPA grants to tribes are not a
                                                             comprehensive list of grants that tribes are eligible to receive.


                                                             The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is responsible for
                                                             developing government-wide policies to ensure that grants are properly




                                                             Page 8                                                            GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                           managed. 14 EPA has issued regulations to implement those policies for
                           the grants it administers and has also issued regulations to govern the
                           administration of various grant programs.

                           All EPA grants have an associated listing in the Catalog of Federal
                           Domestic Assistance (CFDA), which identifies eligibility requirements and
                           the authorizing statute. 15 For example, the CFDA identifies whether a
                           grant has a matching requirement—the nonfederal share of costs that is
                           required to receive the grant—and, if so, what percentage of the total
                           grant amount must be provided by the tribe. The CFDA also identifies the
                           type of EPA grant—formula, categorical, or discretionary—which is a
                           factor in determining grant amounts. Formula grants are awarded
                           noncompetitively in amounts according to statute or regulation.
                           Categorical grants are, with limited exceptions, also noncompetitive, and
                           EPA determines the amount each grantee receives based on program-
                           specific factors or agency-developed formulas. Discretionary grants can
                           be competitive or noncompetitive, and EPA national program or regional
                           offices determine award amounts based on the specific project.

EPA Grant Life Cycle and   The grant life cycle at EPA generally has four main stages: (1) preaward,
Award Process              in which EPA announces a grant opportunity, applicants apply, and EPA
                           reviews and selects grant applications; 16 (2) award, in which EPA makes
                           obligations for grants and notifies recipients of the award; (3)
                           implementation, in which EPA disburses payments to the grantee and the
                           grantee conducts the work; and (4) closeout, in which EPA ensures the
                           grantee has completed all required technical work and administrative
                           requirements, such as submitting progress reports. The figure below
                           14The  Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for
                           Federal Awards (known as the Uniform Guidance) streamlines OMB’s guidance to
                           promote consistency among grantees and reduce administrative burdens on nonfederal
                           entities. 78 Fed. Reg. 78,590 (Dec. 26, 2013) (codified at 2 C.F.R. pt. 200). The Uniform
                           Guidance consolidated eight OMB grants management circulars, including A–21, Cost
                           Principles for Educational Institutions; A–50, Audit Follow-up; A–87, Cost Principles for
                           State, Local and Indian Tribal Governments; A–89, Federal Domestic Assistance Program
                           Information; A–102, Grants and Cooperative Agreements with State and Local
                           Governments; A–110, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements
                           With Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations; A–
                           122, Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations; and A–133, Audits of States, Local
                           Governments and Non-Profit Organizations.
                           15The CFDA is the single authoritative, government-wide compendium and source
                           document for descriptions of federal programs that provide assistance or benefits to the
                           American public. It is maintained by the General Services Administration.
                           16EPA regulations require competitive grant opportunities to be posted on a government-
                           wide website for finding and applying for federal financial assistance.




                           Page 9                                                    GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                                        demonstrates the responsibilities of EPA and tribal grantees throughout
                                        this life cycle.

Figure 2: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grant Life Cycle




                                        a
                                         Grants.gov is the publicly accessible, searchable, government-wide website managed by the
                                        Department of Health and Human Services that serves as the central repository and clearinghouse
                                        for over 1,000 grant programs funded by 26 federal grant-making agencies. Grants.gov was
                                        established in response to the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999,
                                        which requires the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to direct, coordinate, and assist
                                        federal agencies in establishing a common system where, among other things, nonfederal entities
                                        can apply for federal financial assistance. Pub. L. No. 106-107, § 6(a)(1)(B), 113 Stat. 1486, 1488
                                        (1999) (classified at 31 U.S.C. § 6101 Note). Grants.gov can be accessed at http://www.grants.gov/.
                                        Not all applications for EPA grants go through grants.gov, because tribes can request waivers to
                                        bypass the system.


                                        During the preaward stage, EPA either notifies the public of the grant
                                        opportunity or notifies eligible tribes about available grants, and
                                        applicants must submit applications to the agency for review. EPA also
                                        reviews applications to verify that applicants meet eligibility requirements
                                        and assigns project officers and grant specialists to oversee the
                                        implementation stage of the grants. In the award stage, EPA notifies the
                                        tribe they received the award. The implementation stage includes grant
                                        work being conducted, such as developing water quality standards by the
                                        end of the year. It also includes payment processing, agency monitoring,
                                        and tribes reporting on the results. Tribes submit information on grant
                                        results to EPA through performance reports and progress reports. The
                                        closeout phase includes preparation of final reports and financial
                                        reconciliation.




                                        Page 10                                                         GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                          EPA awarded over $985 million to tribes through 43 diverse grant
EPA Awarded Over          programs for fiscal years 2014 through 2019, according to our analysis of
$985 Million to Indian    grant data from IGMS. 17 These grants were awarded directly by EPA to
                          539 federally recognized tribes 18 and 45 other tribal entities, according to
Tribes and Other          the IGMS data. About 92 percent of these grants were from 10 grant
Tribal Entities through   programs (see fig. 3 below). EPA awarded the largest amount—$331.9
43 Diverse Grant          million—through Performance Partnership Grants (PPG) to 197 federally
                          recognized tribes and one other tribal entity. PPGs enable tribes to
Programs for Fiscal       combine funds from more than one grant into a single grant with a single
                          budget; however, PPG is not an independent source of funding. IGMS
Years 2014 through        does not track which grants are combined in PPGs; therefore, the PPG
2019                      award total comprises funds from many grant programs. According to
                          EPA officials, awards commonly combined in a PPG include Indian
                          Environmental General Assistance Program (GAP) grants; Water
                          Pollution Control Grant Program (Clean Water Act section 106) grants;
                          Nonpoint Source Implementation Clean Water Act section 319 grants; Air




                          17These totals do not include any EPA funds that are provided to tribes by other entities,
                          such as another federal agency or a state, or used by those entities for projects that
                          benefit tribes because IGMS does not include data about interagency agreements or grant
                          subrecipients. For example, the Clean Water Indian Set-Aside Grant Program data in the
                          total above include the $3.6 million in grants provided by EPA directly to tribes; however,
                          according to EPA officials from the Office of Water, the program also transferred
                          approximately $180 million to the Indian Health Service through interagency agreements
                          for fiscal years 2014 through 2019. These funds were used to undertake sanitation
                          projects selected by EPA in coordination with the Indian Health Service and tribes.
                          Similarly, EPA provided approximately $103.4 million for fiscal years 2014 through 2019 to
                          the state of Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation to award grants to tribes
                          under the Alaska Native Villages and Rural Communities Grant Program, according to
                          EPA officials from the Office of Water; this is not included in the total or the figure below
                          because it was not provided from EPA directly to tribes.
                          18The Integrated Grants Management System data on determining applicant type was
                          self-reported by grant recipients as “Indian Tribe.” The number of federally recognized
                          Indian tribes changed between 2014 and 2019. In fiscal year 2014, there were 566
                          federally recognized Indian tribes; at the end of fiscal year 2019, there were 573 federally
                          recognized Indian tribes. The grants reported here were awarded to 527 federally
                          recognized Indian tribes as well as to 12 bands or political subdivisions of federally
                          recognized Indian tribes. Specifically, six bands of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (Bois
                          Forte Band (Nett Lake), Fond du Lac Band, Grand Portage Band, Leech Lake Band, Mille
                          Lacs Band, and White Earth Band), four bands of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western
                          Shoshone Indians of Nevada (Battle Mountain Band, Elko Band, South Fork Band, and
                          Wells Band); and the two political subdivisions of the Passamaquoddy Tribe (Indian
                          Township Reservation and Pleasant Point Reservation).




                          Page 11                                                    GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Pollution Control Support Program Clean Air Act section 105 grants; and
State and Tribal Response grants, among others. 19

EPA awarded the second-largest amount—$284.4 million—through
grants under the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program
(GAP). 20 This was the most commonly awarded type of grant to tribes for
fiscal years 2014 through 2019, with EPA awarding this type of grant to at
least 377 federally recognized tribes and 31 other tribal entities. GAP
provides financial assistance to help tribes build capacity to administer
their environmental programs. Appendix II lists the 43 EPA grant
programs with direct awards to tribes and other tribal entities for fiscal
years 2014 through 2019, with a description of each program and the
total amount directly awarded to tribes and other tribal entities.




19The grants eligible for inclusion in a PPG are discussed below. Nonpoint source refers
to natural and human-made pollution that comes from diffuse sources and travels into
waterways through runoff due to precipitation, snowmelt, and other factors.
20As discussed above, these figures on total award amounts and total awards for the
Indian Environmental General Assistance Program are partial amounts, since GAP grants
can be included in PPGs.




Page 12                                                  GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Figure 3: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grant Amounts Awarded Directly to Tribes and Other Tribal Entities for
Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019




                                        Notes: The Integrated Grants Management System (IGMS) data on determining applicant type was
                                        self-reported by grant recipients as “Indian Tribe.” Recipients include federally recognized tribes as
                                        well as 12 bands or political subdivisions of federally recognized Indian tribes and other tribal entities,
                                        which include intertribal consortia; nonprofits created by corporations established pursuant to the
                                        Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act; and tribal housing authorities, among others. We did not verify
                                        whether each recipient was eligible to receive the grant it was awarded. These totals do not include
                                        any EPA funds that are provided to tribes by other entities, such as another federal agency or a state,
                                        or used by those entities for projects that benefit tribes because IGMS does not include data about
                                        interagency agreements or grant subrecipients. For example, the Drinking Water Infrastructure: Tribal
                                        Set-Aside Program grant data in the figure include the $13.5 million in grants provided by EPA
                                        directly to tribes; however, according to EPA officials from the Office of Water, the program also
                                        transferred approximately $107.9 million to the Indian Health Service through interagency
                                        agreements for fiscal years 2014 through 2019. These funds were used to undertake drinking water
                                        infrastructure projects selected by EPA in coordination with the Indian Health Service and tribes.
                                        Similarly, EPA provided approximately $103.4 million for fiscal years 2014 through 2019 to the state
                                        of Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation to award grants to tribes under the Alaska
                                        Native Villages and Rural Communities Grant Program, according to EPA officials from the Office of
                                        Water; this is not included in the figure above because it was not provided from EPA directly to tribes.




                                        Page 13                                                             GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
a
 The Integrated Grants Management System reports dollar amounts of individual grants enrolled in a
PPG as a total aggregate value, so figures for PPGs are a combination of awards from other grant
programs. PPGs enable tribes to combine funds from different EPA grant programs, such as Indian
Environmental General Assistance Program grants; Water Pollution Control Clean Water Act section
106 grants; Nonpoint Source Implementation Clean Water Act section 319 grants; Air Pollution
Control Clean Air Act 105 grants; and State and Tribal Response grants into a single grant with a
single budget.


For fiscal years 2014 through 2019, the three largest individual grants
were to a single tribe for Superfund Indian Tribe Site-Specific Cooperative
Agreements in Region 6. The grants totaled about $20 million and were
used to conduct response planning and implementation actions to clean
up a site contaminated with hazardous substances that poses hazards to
human health. Superfund site cleanup activities can vary and can take a
considerable amount of time and money to complete, depending on the
nature of the contamination and other site-specific factors. 21 The fourth-
and fifth-largest individual grant actions were to an intertribal consortium
under the Puget Sound Protection and Restoration Program grant that
assists tribes in Region 10 in protecting and restoring the Puget Sound.
These grant actions were for $4 million each. The intertribal consortium
used the grants for different projects among their 20 member tribes in
Region 10.

The number of grantees and grants awarded varied by EPA region. For
example, EPA Region 10 has the most federally recognized tribes, and it
had the most grantees (278) and the highest total amount of grants
($334.5 million) awarded for fiscal years 2014 through 2019. 22 Likewise,
EPA Region 3 had no federally recognized tribes until fiscal year 2016,
and it had the fewest grantees (2) and lowest total amount of grants
($300,000) awarded for fiscal years 2014 through 2019. Table 2 shows
the total amount of grants awarded to tribes by EPA region and fiscal
year. 23 As shown in the table, the overall total amount awarded by region
remained nearly the same for fiscal years 2014 through 2019, while the
number of grantees slightly increased. Specifically, in fiscal year 2014,
there were 511 grantees, and in fiscal year 2019, there were 529
grantees.


21For more information about Superfund sites on tribal property, or that affect tribes, see
GAO, Superfund: EPA Should Improve the Reliability of Data on National Priorities List
Sites Affecting Indian Tribes, GAO-19-123 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 23, 2019).
22The   number of grantees is the count of grant recipients who received a new grant award
for fiscal years 2014 through 2019.
23This   may include new grants or amendments to active grants during this time period.




Page 14                                                        GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Table 2: Total Dollar Amount (in millions) of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grants Awarded Directly to Tribes and
Number of Grantees by EPA Region for Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019

Fiscal             Region Region Region Region Region                                Region Region Region             Region Region             Total Number of
Year                    1      2     3a      4      5                                     6      7      8                  9     10                    granteesb
2014                     3.4           3.3             0          2.9        15.1      16.7         2.1       17.2        41.1       53.8       155.6            511
2015                     3.3           2.5             0          2.8        14.4      23.1         3.9       14.3        39.4       55.9       159.6            506
2016                     3.3           4.1             0          5.5        16.0      25.6         3.2       16.3        42.0       55.5       171.5            528
2017                     3.0           3.5             0          2.0        16.5      27.2         2.9       16.3        40.8       55.3       167.5            508
2018                     2.8           3.3          0.1           1.5        14.1      22.3         2.3       15.9        41.6       56.4       160.3            529
2019                     2.8           3.9          0.2           1.8        13.4      24.6         3.0       15.8        48.0       57.6       171.1            529
Total                   18.6         20.6           0.3          16.5        89.5     139.5       17.4        95.8       252.9      334.5       985.6
Number of                 10             5             2            7           38       68           8         27         141        278
grantees
Source: GAO analysis of EPA Integrated Grants Management System data. | GAO-21-150

                                                             Notes: The Integrated Grants Management System (IGMS) data on determining applicant type was
                                                             self-reported by grant recipients as “Indian Tribe.” Recipients included federally recognized tribes, 12
                                                             bands or political subdivisions of federally recognized tribes, and other tribal entities. The number of
                                                             federally recognized Indian tribes changed between 2014 and 2019. At the beginning of fiscal year
                                                             2014, there were 566 federally recognized Indian tribes; at the end of fiscal year 2019, there were
                                                             573 federally recognized Indian tribes.
                                                             The 12 bands and political subdivisions include six bands of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (Bois
                                                             Forte Band (Nett Lake), Fond du Lac Band, Grand Portage Band, Leech Lake Band, Mille Lacs Band,
                                                             and White Earth Band); four bands of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada
                                                             (Battle Mountain Band, Elko Band, South Fork Band, and Wells Band); and the two political
                                                             subdivisions of the Passamaquoddy Tribe (Indian Township Reservation and Pleasant Point
                                                             Reservation). Other tribal entities include intertribal consortia; nonprofits created by corporations
                                                             established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act; and tribal housing authorities,
                                                             among others.
                                                             We did not verify whether each recipient was eligible to receive the grant it was awarded. The totals
                                                             include new grants and amendments to active grants during this time period. These totals do not
                                                             include any EPA funds that are provided to tribes by other entities, such as another federal agency or
                                                             a state, or used by those entities for projects that benefit tribes because IGMS does not include data
                                                             about interagency agreements or grant subrecipients. For example, the totals above include, for the
                                                             Clean Water Indian Set-Aside Grant Program, the $3.6 million in grants provided by EPA directly to
                                                             tribes; however, according to EPA officials from the Office of Water, the program also transferred
                                                             approximately $180 million to the Indian Health Service through interagency agreements for fiscal
                                                             years 2014 through 2019. These funds were used to undertake sanitation projects selected by EPA in
                                                             coordination with the Indian Health Service and tribes. Similarly, EPA provided approximately $103.4
                                                             million for fiscal years 2014 through 2019 to the state of Alaska’s Department of Environmental
                                                             Conservation to award grants to tribes under the Alaska Native Villages and Rural Communities
                                                             Grant Program, according to EPA officials from the Office of Water; this is not included in the totals
                                                             above because it was not provided from EPA directly to tribes.
                                                             a
                                                              Region 3 did not have any federally recognized tribes in the region until 2016.
                                                             b
                                                              The number of grantees is based on new grants awarded for fiscal years 2014 through fiscal year
                                                             2019.




                                                             Page 15                                                             GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                       Tribes have used EPA grants to support capacity building for developing
Tribes Have Used       their environmental programs and to implement these programs that
EPA Grants to          address numerous environmental concerns. Tribes’ capacity-building
                       activities include those related to planning and developing tribal
Address Numerous       environmental protection programs. For example, the following tribes
Tribal Environmental   have used EPA grants to support capacity-building activities:
Concerns               •   The Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley. The Big Pine
                           Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley in California has received EPA
                           grants since 1998, when they used an EPA GAP grant to create a
                           tribal office of environmental protection. More recently, the tribe has
                           used GAP and Clean Air Act grants to develop an air monitoring
                           program, among other activities. According to one tribal official we
                           interviewed, air quality is an environmental priority for the tribe
                           because of their proximity to Owens Lake in California, which is the
                           greatest source of inhalable particulate matter (PM10) pollution in the
                           United States. 24 Owens Lake used to cover about 100 square miles,
                           until water was diverted from the Owens River in 1913 to bring water
                           to the city of Los Angeles. The diversion caused large portions of the
                           lakebed to dry out. Because of the makeup of the lakebed and winds
                           in the area, the area around Owens Dry Lakebed is prone to dust
                           clouds containing particulate matter, cadmium, chromium, chlorine,
                           and iron, according to EPA (see fig. 4). Setting up air monitoring
                           stations around the reservation allows tribal staff to track pollution
                           levels and warn residents to take precautions when levels become
                           unsafe.




                       24PM10  describes inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 10 micrometers
                       and smaller, that, according to EPA, can be harmful, especially for sensitive populations
                       such as the elderly, children, and other individuals with respiratory issues, including
                       asthma and emphysema. Because Owens Lake is a dry lake, the area has more PM10
                       than elsewhere.




                       Page 16                                                   GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Figure 4: Dust Clouds Rising from Owens Lake in California


Dust from the lake can be harmful if inhaled.




•   The Jicarilla Apache Nation. The Jicarilla Apache Nation in New
    Mexico has used an Indoor Radon grant from EPA to educate their
    community about radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can
    cause cancer. Tribal leadership has identified high levels of cancer as
    a priority concern. To inform tribal members about the dangers of
    radon and assist them in taking actions to mitigate exposure, the
    Jicarilla Apache Nation holds outreach events, such as classes in
    schools and homes. Tribal officials also distribute informational
    materials on radon, such as the poster shown in figure 5 below.
    According to tribal officials, these efforts have led to increased testing
    in homes and to the use of radon-resistant materials in new
    construction, such as the local high school.




Page 17                                             GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Figure 5: Educational Poster on Radon Funded with a Grant from the Environmental
Protection Agency




Page 18                                            GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
•   The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in
    Minnesota has used EPA GAP and Clean Water Act section 106
    grants to develop an application for treatment as a state (TAS) and
    approval of water quality standards for lands under the tribe’s
    jurisdiction. TAS is the delegation of authority to a tribe to operate a
    federal environmental program in lieu of EPA. According to tribal
    officials we interviewed, receiving TAS and water quality standards
    approval from EPA is an environmental priority for the tribe, whose
    865,000 acre reservation has 270 fishable lakes and holds about 10
    percent of Minnesota’s surface water. Tribal officials said they are
    concerned about many water pollution sources, including an upstream
    septic facility that has caused harmful algal blooms. 25
•   Tohono O’odham Nation. The Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona
    receives many different grants from EPA that the tribe uses to
    address environmental concerns. One tribal concern is hazardous
    materials, such as asbestos and lead in community businesses and
    homes. Tribal officials have been using a Tribal Response Fund
    128(a) grant to train staff about brownfields and conduct outreach to
    businesses and the community on the process for assessing and
    cleaning up hazardous materials. 26
•   Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. The Northwest Indian
    Fisheries Commission is an intertribal consortium of 20 federally
    recognized tribes in Washington State. 27 While individual member
    tribes are also eligible for EPA grants, the intertribal consortium uses
    its GAP grant to support and coordinate efforts among its member
    tribes, including by hosting trainings and coordinating watershed


25Harmful algal blooms are overgrowths of algae in marine or freshwater environments
that can produce toxins that hurt the environment and local economies. For more
information, see GAO, Environmental Protection: Information on Federal Agencies’
Expenditures and Coordination Related to Harmful Algae, GAO-17-119 (Washington,
D.C.: Oct. 14, 2016).
26EPA often refers to these grants as Tribal Response Program grants. Brownfields are
properties that may have hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants. Brownfield
sites may also be contaminated by controlled substances or petroleum.
27According to commission officials, the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission is an
intertribal consortium with the following tribes as members: Hoh Tribe; Jamestown
S’Klallam Tribe; Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe; Lummi Nation; Makah Tribe; Muckleshoot
Tribe; Nisqually Indian Tribe; Nooksack Tribe; Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe; Puyallup
Tribe of Indians; Quileute Indian Tribe; Quinault Indian Nation; Sauk-Suiattle Tribe;
Skokomish Tribe; Squaxin Island Tribe; Stillaguamish Tribe; Suquamish Tribe; Swinomish
Tribe; Tulalip Tribes; and Upper Skagit Tribe.




Page 19                                                 GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
    meetings. 28 Through the GAP grant, the commission also provides
    support to its member tribes by applying for grants and providing the
    award money to their member tribes for implementation efforts. The
    commission also provides subawards to its member tribes through the
    EPA Puget Sound Protection and Restoration Program grant for
    projects to advance tribal priorities, including treaty rights, and protect
    or restore Puget Sound.
Tribes have also used EPA grants for implementation activities, including
those related to managing and administering environmental programs.
For example, the following tribes have used EPA grants for
implementation activities:

•   The Morongo Band of Mission Indians. The Morongo Band of
    Mission Indians in California has used National Clean Diesel Emission
    Reduction grants to help address air quality concerns. According to
    tribal representatives we interviewed, the tribe’s primary
    environmental concern is air pollution coming from freeways,
    industrial quarry operations, and the Los Angeles region. To help
    address air pollution issues, tribal officials said they used these grants
    to purchase an energy-efficient dump truck and an eco-friendly refuse
    truck in 2017 and two clean diesel buses and two backhoe loaders in
    2019 to replace older, high-emission vehicles.
•   Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians. The Augustine Band of
    Cahuilla Indians in California uses Clean Water Act section 106 grants
    to monitor tribal waterways and groundwater for contaminants. Tribal
    officials also conduct outreach and education for tribal community
    members to educate them on water usage and identified concerns.
•   Pueblo de San Ildefonso. The Pueblo de San Ildefonso in New
    Mexico borders the Los Alamos National Laboratory (see fig. 6),
    where radioactive materials, such as uranium, are used, and high
    explosives are created and tested. 29 Pueblo officials have been using
    Clean Water Act section 106 grants to train technicians; monitor water
    run-off from the mesas above the Pueblo, where the lab does
    explosives testing; and monitor the water in the Rio Grande.


28Watersheds   are areas that drain into a common body of water.
29For more information on uranium, see GAO, Nuclear Waste: DOE Needs to Improve
Cost Estimates for Transuranic Waste Projects at Los Alamos, GAO-15-182 (Washington,
D.C.: Feb. 18, 2015). For more information on high explosives, see GAO, Nuclear
Weapons: Additional Actions Could Help Improve Management of Activities Involving
Explosive Materials, GAO-19-449 (Washington, D.C.: June 17, 2019).




Page 20                                                  GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Figure 6: Boundary Map of the Pueblo de San Ildefonso and Los Alamos National Laboratory




                                       •   Colorado River Indian Tribes. The Colorado River Indian Tribes,
                                           whose reservation stretches along the Colorado River on both the
                                           Arizona and California sides, have a cooperative agreement with EPA
                                           to conduct pesticide inspections and enforcement, among other
                                           things. 30 The tribe, which has agricultural businesses on its
                                           reservation, uses the money provided by this cooperative agreement
                                           to train and pay tribal inspectors who work to ensure that agriculture
                                           on the reservation is safe for human consumption and agricultural
                                           workers. The tribe has developed a pesticide tracking system to
                                           provide inspectors with the information needed to proactively address
                                           pesticide issues. The system helps the tribe to identify and track
                                           pesticide applications in its 85,000 agricultural acres.
                                       •   The Southern Ute Indian Tribe. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe in
                                           southwestern Colorado uses multiple EPA grants to manage and
                                           administer environmental programs on its reservation. For example,
                                           using an EPA Clean Air Act section 103 grant, the tribe has developed
                                           and implemented a Title V Operating Permit Program for major air

                                       30Pesticide inspections are the core of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide
                                       Act compliance monitoring program. Pesticide inspections are conducted by federal, state,
                                       and tribal inspectors to monitor compliance, detect violations, and collect evidence to take
                                       appropriate enforcement actions.




                                       Page 21                                                   GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
    pollution sources, according to tribal officials. Under this program,
    they have the authority to issue Clean Air Act Title V operating permits
    for the 35 major pollution sources located on their reservation as well
    as to inspect those sources and bring enforcement actions for
    noncompliance. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe also uses Clean Air
    Act section 105 grants to operate and maintain three state and local
    ambient air quality monitoring stations, some of the only air monitors
    in the region. Data from these stations are submitted to the EPA Air
    Quality Systems database for evaluating regional compliance with the
    national ambient air quality standards. Tribal officials said that clean
    air is a priority for the tribe, since ozone levels on the reservation have
    been increasing and are close to surpassing the national ambient air
    quality standard. 31 The tribe also used a Clean Air Act section 105
    grant to purchase vehicle-mounted methane detection equipment,
    paired with a special camera, to identify methane leaks invisible to the
    naked eye (see fig. 7). This equipment has been used to identify
    multiple large methane or natural gas leaks from underground
    pipelines that would have otherwise gone undetected and continued
    to emit methane into the atmosphere, according to tribal officials.




31Real-time air quality data from the three air monitoring stations are available on the
Southern Ute Indian Tribe website at https://www.southernute-nsn.gov/justice-and-
regulatory/epd/air-quality/ambient-monitoring/.




Page 22                                                    GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Figure 7: Methane Detection Equipment Funded with a Grant from the
Environmental Protection Agency Identifies Methane Leaks from Underground
Pipes




The tribe has also used grant awards to conduct extensive work to
implement its water programs. For example, through base
(noncompetitive) and competitive Nonpoint Source Implementation Clean
Water Act section 319 grants, the tribe has addressed stream bank
erosion (see fig. 8), which can affect water quality and threaten
infrastructure, such as homes and roads.




Page 23                                          GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Figure 8: Stream Bank Restoration Efforts on Spring Creek in Colorado




                                        •   Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. The Red Lake Band of
                                            Chippewa Indians in Minnesota combines several grants together in
                                            its Performance Partnership Grant, including a Clean Water Act
                                            section 106 grant, base Clean Water Act section 319 grant,
                                            competitive Clean Water Act section 319 grant, Clean Air Act section
                                            105 grant, Tribal Response Program section 128(a) grant, and GAP
                                            grant. Tribal officials whom we interviewed said that the PPG allows
                                            for funding flexibility, through which the tribe may shift money around
                                            as needed. These officials also said that combining grants reduces
                                            the matching requirement for some grants. In combination with grants
                                            from other agencies and groups, the EPA PPG assists the Red Lake
                                            Band of Chippewa in their efforts to monitor the air and water for 1
                                            million acres of trust land, as well as to conduct cleanup activities,
                                            according to tribal officials.




                                        Page 24                                         GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                           EPA and tribal officials we interviewed identified financial, staffing, and
EPA and Tribal             communication challenges related to using EPA grants to address tribal
Officials Identified       environmental concerns. 32 First, EPA and tribal officials we interviewed
                           stated that stagnant and declining funding levels in EPA grants have been
Several Challenges in      a key challenge affecting tribal environmental programs. Second, high
Using Grants, and          turnover in both EPA and tribal staff has been a challenge, according to
                           EPA and tribal officials we interviewed. Finally, EPA and tribal officials we
EPA Has Taken Some         interviewed identified several communication challenges, such as
Actions to Address         technology issues and unclear or outdated guidance, which make using
                           EPA grants to address tribal environmental concerns difficult. EPA has
Them                       taken some actions to address these ongoing challenges, such as
                           encouraging funding flexibility, developing training materials, and
                           consistently contacting and working with tribes.

EPA and Tribal Officials   According to EPA and tribal officials we interviewed, stagnant and
Identified Ongoing         declining funding levels have been a key challenge affecting tribes’ ability
                           to address their environmental concerns through EPA grants. This
Financial Challenges,
                           challenge was identified by officials from nine EPA regions, the five EPA
Which EPA Has Taken        headquarters offices that issued grants, and each of the 10 tribes and the
Some Actions to Address    intertribal consortium we interviewed that received grants for fiscal years
                           2014 through 2019. 33 For example, the amounts of EPA’s annual
                           appropriation directed by congressional committees to GAP and Clean Air
                           Act sections 103 and 105 grants and the amounts EPA has allocated
                           annually for Clean Water Act section 106 tribal grants have stagnated or
                           declined for fiscal years 2014 through 2019, as shown in figure 9.




                           32We interviewed 10 tribes and one intertribal consortium as well as each of the 10 EPA
                           regions and six EPA headquarters offices.
                           33As discussed above, Region 3 officials issued their first tribal grant in fiscal year 2018,
                           and the region is therefore not included in this count for this time frame.




                           Page 25                                                      GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Figure 9: Amounts of Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Annual
Appropriation Directed to the Indian General Assistance Program and Tribal Air
Quality Management and EPA’s Annual Allocation for Clean Water Act section 106
Tribal Grants, Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019




Note: These amounts are not adjusted for inflation and are reported in nominal values. Congressional
committee reports and explanatory statements accompanying EPA’s annual appropriation acts have
directed EPA to use specified amounts of the State and Tribal Assistance Grant (STAG) appropriation
for the Indian General Assistance Program and Tribal Air Quality Management. Tribal Air Quality
Management includes both Clean Air Act section 103 and section 105 grants to tribes. The committee
reports and explanatory statements also direct EPA to use a specified amount of the STAG
appropriation for all Clean Water section 106 grants to both states and tribes; the figure presents the
amount EPA has allocated for Clean Water Act section 106 tribal grants for fiscal years 2014 through
2019.


At the same time that amounts available for grants have declined or
stagnated, the number of tribes receiving EPA grants has increased,
according to EPA and tribal officials we interviewed. In 2014, there were
566 federally recognized tribes. By fiscal year 2019, that number had
risen to 573. The increase in tribes resulted in less for individual tribes at
the same time that the costs to operate programs were increasing,
according to officials from two EPA regions and three selected tribes. For
example, Region 10 officials we interviewed said that GAP grants have
been stagnant for a decade, while the number of tribes applying has
increased and tribes have seen an erosion in buying power due to



Page 26                                                          GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
inflation. These officials said that in fiscal year 2016, GAP grants were
$128,000 per tribe in Region 10; however, in fiscal year 2019, they were
$120,000. 34 According to officials from the Leech Lake Band in
Minnesota, grant awards have not allowed the tribe to ensure that staff
wages rise to match increases in the cost of living, in part because
additional tribes have become eligible to apply for these grants in recent
years, reducing individual grant amounts.

Furthermore, officials from six EPA regions and six tribes we interviewed
said that funding levels are not adequate to sustain certain programs. For
example, officials from Region 9 highlighted that awards for Clean Water
Act section 319 grants have never been adequate to run a Nonpoint
Source program because a tribe typically receives $30,000 annually,
which is not enough to support a staff member and program operations.
Officials from the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota
stated that several tribes in their region do not apply for Clean Water Act
section 319 grants because the grant amount does not offset the
administrative costs of applying.

According to officials from nine EPA regions and all 10 tribes and the
intertribal consortium whom we interviewed, there have been stagnating
and declining funding levels, which create negative effects, such as tribes
having to reduce their environmental protection efforts by delaying
projects and cutting staff hours. For example, the Southern Ute Indian
Tribe in Colorado told us they operate a brownfields program that can
only conduct one large project every 2 or 3 years because the award
amount per year is not enough to hire contractors and dispose of
hazardous materials. When projects have been delayed because the
grant amount is not enough to dispose of lead and asbestos, the tribe has
had to use limited resources to redo building assessments because the
assessments become invalid over time, even if nothing has changed.

In addition, the Environmental Manager for the Tohono O’odham Nation
told us that declining awards for air programs have affected the number of
hours staff can work. The Environmental Manager also said the decline
has resulted in cuts to projects that are tribal environmental priorities,
such as indoor air quality, which is critical for a desert nation. Officials we
interviewed from the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota


34According to officials from Region 10, in fiscal year 2020, the region was able to
increase funding levels from the 2019 level to $125,000.




Page 27                                                    GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
told us that the reduction of award amounts over time for Clean Water Act
section 106 grants—around a 40 percent decrease since 2004, according
to the tribe—has caused them to reduce staff and cut programs that are
tribal environmental priorities. 35 According to these officials, while threats
to natural resources have increased, water resources staff have been cut
by about a third, resulting in the tribe seeking competitive grants to
monitor its 1 million acres. As a result of working through competitive
grants, the tribe must use those resources only for work prioritized by
those grant sources and not necessarily the highest-priority tribal needs,
such as mercury testing for fish, or in supporting programs that have
existed for over 20 years, such as monitoring programs for establishing
tribal water quality standards.

EPA has taken some actions to respond to stagnating and declining
funding levels. For example, EPA officials said they promote the use of
PPGs, which provide tribes with flexibility to direct funds where they are
most needed. As noted earlier, for fiscal years 2014 through 2019, 197
federally recognized tribes and one other tribal entity used PPGs.
According to officials we interviewed from four tribes, funding flexibility
under PPGs is critical to leverage limited resources. In addition to using
PPGs to increase funding flexibilities, tribes, including three we
interviewed, use PPGs to reduce the matching requirement on certain
grants, since the matching requirement for a PPG is low: 5 to 10
percent. 36 For example, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota has
combined an Indoor Radon grant and Clean Air Act section 105 grant in
its PPG to reduce its required Indoor Radon match from 40 percent to 5
percent. Grants with high matching requirements can be cost prohibitive
for tribal programs because they require tribes to provide additional
resources from resource limited tribal governments, according to tribal
officials we interviewed.



35Red   Lake Band of Chippewa officials said they started tracking grant awards in 2004 for
Clean Water Act section 106 grants when it was $420,000, and now, adjusted for inflation,
the tribe receives about $250,000.
36Grants with a cost share greater than 5 percent have that cost share reduced to 5
percent for the first two years the grant is included in a PPG. After the first two years, the
Regional Administrator must increase the cost share up to a maximum of 10 percent of
the allowable costs of the work plan budget for each grant with a cost share greater than 5
percent if the Regional Administrator determines through objective assessment that the
PPG recipient meets socio-economic indicators that demonstrate the ability to provide a
greater cost share. 40 C.F.R. § 35.536(c). The Regional Administrator is authorized to
waive the cost share requirement in certain circumstances. 40 C.F.R. § 35.536(d).




Page 28                                                     GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
According to EPA officials and PPG regulations, the purpose of a PPG is
to combine funds from more than one grant into a single grant with a
single budget, and the program is designed to provide tribes with flexibility
to direct resources where they are most needed and provide savings by
streamlining administrative requirements. However, EPA regions
implement PPGs differently, with some regions allowing for funding
flexibility and others restricting the movement of funds between grants in
a PPG. More specifically, in some regions, EPA requires tribes with PPGs
to track each grant included with separate budgets and work plans, which
justify the eligibility of each activity. According to tribal officials we
interviewed in two EPA regions, EPA project officers require GAP awards
to be tracked separately in a PPG and used only for GAP-eligible
activities, which typically do not include implementation activities. For
example, according to EPA regional officials, under a GAP grant, awards
can be used to test homes and businesses for radon but cannot be used
to mitigate or remediate radon issues when they are found. However,
according to EPA’s OCIR, which oversees PPGs, and EPA’s AIEO, which
oversees GAP, if a GAP grant is combined in a PPG with a grant that
allows for implementation activities, any activities eligible under either
grant are eligible for any funding in the PPG.

When asked about the discrepancy between what some project officers
are requiring of tribes and the funding flexibilities provided in the PPG
program, EPA AIEO and OCIR officials noted that EPA formed a PPG
Work Group in 2017 to study the use of PPGs. According to these
officials, the Work Group has issued an internal report to clarify PPG
goals and to provide findings and recommendations for improvements.
Additionally, OCIR officials said they are developing training for project
officers about the proper use of tribal PPGs and expect the training to be
available in 2021. According to EPA officials, the current guidance
available to tribes and project officers working with tribes is a best
practices document from 2011 that does not clarify funding flexibility when
a GAP grant is included in a PPG. 37 By clarifying in its best practices
guidance that PPGs should combine grants into a single budget with
flexible funds to support tribal environmental concerns, EPA could help
address inconsistencies between EPA regions, as well as address
challenges caused by funding shortfalls and reduce administrative
burdens for EPA and tribes.



37EPA, Best Practices Guide for Performance Partnership Grants with Tribes, EPA 140-B-
11-001 (Washington, D.C.: March 2011).




Page 29                                                GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
In addition to unclear guidance on funding flexibility in a PPG, we
identified inconsistencies in documentation on which grants are eligible
for inclusion. EPA provided us with or referenced four different sources
for lists of eligible grants during interviews, none of which were
comprehensive or up to date. Specifically:

•      EPA regulations, which were last updated in 2009, identify nine grants
       that are eligible for inclusion in PPGs but say the EPA Administrator
       may describe subsequent additions, deletions, or changes to eligibility
       in guidance or regulation. 38 Since 2004, EPA has published Federal
       Register notices announcing that five additional grants are eligible for
       inclusion. 39
•      EPA’s 2011 PPG best practices guidance lists 19 eligible grants, but
       this list does not include some of the grants the Federal Register
       notices announced were eligible, such as the 2016 notice announcing
       that Multipurpose Categorical grants were eligible for inclusion.
•      EPA’s OCIR provided us with a list with 18 eligible grants that is
       similar to a list on the EPA.gov website; however, the 18 do not
       include three grants listed as eligible elsewhere, such as the Pesticide
       Applicator Certification and Training grant and Pesticide Program
       Implementation grant which are included in the EPA regulation and
       the 2011 PPG best practices guidance. EPA officials said they
       updated the eligibility list on their website in April 2020, but the list is
       incomplete as of October 1, 2020.
•      EPA’s OCIR also directed us to the General Services Administration’s
       CFDA website, which says 20 grants are eligible in some places and
       19 in another and provides a link to the list on the OCIR website.
Additionally, one grant program that EPA announced in a Federal
Register notice as eligible for PPG inclusion, Multimedia Sector Program




3840   C.F.R. § 35.533.
3969 Fed. Reg. 51756 (Aug. 20, 2004) (adding Environmental Information Exchange
Network grants, Multimedia Sector Program grants, and Brownfields CERCLA section
128(a) grants); 80 Fed. Reg. 65224 (Oct. 26, 2015) (adding Beaches Environmental
Assessment and Coastal Health Act grants); 81 Fed. Reg. 22262 (Apr. 15, 2016) (adding
the Multipurpose Categorical grants, which were established by the Consolidated
Appropriations Act, 2016).




Page 30                                                GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
grants, is not included in any of these lists. 40 Furthermore, according to
EPA officials, the regulation identifying the list of grants eligible for PPG
has a typo. 41 Specifically, the regulation references grants identified in 40
C.F.R. § 35.101(a)(2)-(10) as eligible for inclusion in a PPG. According to
EPA, this regulation should instead reference 40 C.F.R. § 35.501(a)(2)–
(10), which includes an additional grant, the Water Quality Cooperative
Agreement (Clean Water Action section 104(b)(3)), that is not listed in 40
C.F.R. § 35.101(a)(2)-(10) or on OCIR’s website, but is listed in the 2011
best practices guidance as eligible for inclusion in a PPG. When EPA
issued the regulation in 2001, it referenced 40 C.F.R. § 35.501 but EPA
changed this regulation in 2009, without explanation, to reference 40
C.F.R. § 35.101 instead. 42 An EPA OCIR official told us they plan to
revise this regulation to restore the reference 40 C.F.R. § 35.501(a)(2)-
(10). Once the regulation is revised, EPA will need to add Water Quality
Cooperative Agreements to the list of grants eligible for inclusion in a
PPG on OCIR’s website so that the website is comprehensive and up to
date.

These inconsistencies can impact which grants tribes apply for if they are
not aware of which grants can be included in their PPGs and could also
require EPA and tribal staff to spend additional time identifying which
grants are eligible for inclusion. For example, officials from one tribe we
interviewed said that they would like to have an Indoor Radon grant, but
because that type of grant was not eligible for inclusion in a PPG, the
matching requirements made it unfeasible. However, we found that
Indoor Radon grants are listed as eligible for PPGs in three of the four
sources EPA provided or referenced; therefore, we believe the tribe was
misinformed.




40In October 2020, EPA noted that the Multimedia Sector Program was not included in the
OCIR list because the program ended. However, although the program has not received
an appropriation in recent years, the program could receive an appropriation in the future
and all the lists of eligible grants except the 2011 PPG best practices guidance include
Multipurpose grants, which have not received an appropriation every year since being
established in fiscal year 2016.
4140   C.F.R. § 35.533(a).
4274 Fed. Reg. 28443, 28444 (June 16, 2009). This rule added the State Response
Programs and Tribal Response Programs under section 128(a) of the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act as among grants eligible for
inclusion in a PPG. id. at 28443.




Page 31                                                  GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                              EPA’s mission statement states that EPA works to ensure that tribal
                              governments have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively
                              participate in managing human health and environmental risks. 43
                              According to Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government,
                              agency management should internally and externally communicate the
                              necessary quality information to achieve the entity’s objectives. 44 Without
                              EPA publishing an accurate and up-to-date list of eligible grants for PPGs
                              that is easily accessible to tribes and project officers, tribes may not be
                              able to take full advantage of the funding flexibility of PPGs to help them
                              participate in managing human health and environmental risks on tribal
                              lands.

EPA and Tribal Officials      EPA and tribal officials we interviewed also identified ongoing staffing
Identified Ongoing Staffing   issues, related to EPA and tribal staff turnover and workloads, as key
                              challenges for tribes in addressing their environmental concerns through
Challenges, Which EPA
                              EPA grants.
Has Taken Some Actions
to Address                    According to officials from eight of the EPA regions and eight of the tribes
                              we interviewed, turnover of EPA grants staff and heavy workloads for
                              these staff have created additional work for already overworked tribal
                              staff. For example, officials from the Pueblo de San Ildefonso said that
                              when EPA staff change, grant documents are often lost and need to be
                              resubmitted. According to 2019 EPA workforce data, EPA is understaffed
                              for grant specialists—who process the administrative side of grants—
                              across the agency by about 15 percent. 45 In addition, EPA officials said
                              that a 2019 agency realignment moved staff into different positions, which
                              created additional work for existing staff, who had to train staff new to
                              working with tribes. According to EPA regional officials, training grant
                              specialists in regions with a high number of tribes and grants is especially
                              taxing for existing staff because of their high workload relative to other
                              regions. For example, Region 10 grant specialists said they might work
                              with 30 tribes and have 140 grants to manage, while Region 8 grant

                              43According to EPA.gov, the mission statement of EPA includes ensuring access of
                              accurate information to tribal governments, as seen here:
                              https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/our-mission-and-what-we-do
                              44GAO-14-704G.

                              45This was also recently found by an EPA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report that
                              stated grant specialists’ workload and staff shortages prevented goals from being met and
                              that this management challenge is consistent with findings and recommendations from
                              EPA OIG and GAO-17-144. EPA OIG, EPA Did Not Accurately Report Under the Grants
                              Oversight and New Efficiency Act and Needs to Improve Timeliness of Expired Grant
                              Closeouts, Report No. 20-P-0126 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 31, 2020).




                              Page 32                                                  GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
specialists said they work with an average of around four to five tribes
and manage about 60 grants. According to EPA officials in two regions,
their regional offices have started to develop onboarding materials for
grant specialists new to working with Indian tribes in order to help them
acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to become proficient in their
positions more quickly and efficiently, such as checklists that will help
grant specialists as they work through the grant process. However,
according to EPA regional officials, not all regions have these materials or
are planning to develop them. The Region 10 grants management
officer—the senior EPA representative who oversees grant specialists—
said that while there is interest in developing these materials, the
workload of individual grant specialists, who are the experts for these
grant programs, inhibits working on special projects, such as developing
onboarding tools.

Additionally, 2019 EPA workforce data on grant project officers—who
oversee the programmatic and technical aspects of grants—indicate
similar workload and turnover challenges. From 2018 to 2019, the
number of staff serving as project officers declined from 806 to 776 for all
EPA grants. Because of EPA staff turnover in Region 6, the Pueblo de
San Ildefonso worked with four different project officers and two different
grant specialists assigned for one grant in fiscal years 2014 through 2017.
Officials in Region 10 said that the heavy workload in their region is due
to EPA staff turnover and the high number of tribes and tribal grants.
Officials said that in fiscal year 2019, each Region 10 project officer had
an average of about 13 PPGs, while project officers in other regions had
six or fewer. This relatively high number of PPGs is challenging because
PPGs may include between three and seven grants that require
deliverables to be separately tracked, although PPGs only appear to be
one grant in workload tracking documents, according to Region 10 staff. 46
According to EPA regional officials, materials for onboarding project
officers exist or are under development in some, but not all, regional
offices.

EPA’s strategic plan for fiscal years 2018 through 2022 includes an
objective that the agency improve efficiency and effectiveness, including
to alleviate challenges associated with fluctuating levels of expertise



46According to Region 10 officials, this is in addition to the between 17 and 22 grants each
project officer manages with GAP grants.




Page 33                                                   GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
across agency programs. 47 Additionally, Standards for Internal Control in
the Federal Government state that management should design control
activities to achieve objectives and respond to risks; effective
management of an entity’s workforce is essential to achieving results and
an important part of internal control. 48 The standards further state that
only when the right personnel for the job are on board and are provided
with the right training and tools, among other things, is operational
success possible. By developing and nationally distributing onboarding
materials to grant specialists and project officers new to working with
Indian tribes and tribal grants, EPA can better meet its objective to
improve efficiency and effectiveness, by alleviating challenges associated
with fluctuating levels of expertise among grant staff.

According to officials from nine EPA regions and five of the tribes we
interviewed, staff turnover in tribal environmental program offices is also
high. Some of these officials said that hiring and training new staff can be
a time-consuming process in part because of the remote location of these
positions or the complex and technical work being performed. For
example, officials in one EPA region explained that due to the low pay
and remote locations, tribal staff turnover can result in the hiring of
applicants with limited experience, which results in EPA providing time-
consuming, one-on-one training. Some EPA offices and regions have
developed or are working on materials to more efficiently train new tribal
staff and reduce the impact of tribal turnover. For example, the Office of
Air and Radiation has developed training on grants management that is
specifically for tribal professionals working with air media and funds this
training annually. In addition, Region 9’s grant specialists have developed
a grants management handbook for tribal staff. Furthermore, according to
officials in Region 7, they are developing onboarding materials, including
a checklist for new tribal air technicians. However, many of these
onboarding materials are region specific or exist only for some
environmental media, such as air, but not for others, such as water or
hazardous waste.

EPA’s strategic plan for fiscal years 2018 through 2022 includes a goal to
have more effective partnerships, with a long-term goal of increasing the
number of grant commitments—planned actions with measurable

47EPA, Working Together: FY2018-2022 U.S. EPA Strategic Plan (Washington, D.C.:
February 2018).
48GAO-14-704G.




Page 34                                              GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                           performance indicators and deadlines—achieved by tribes, while reducing
                           the burden on tribes. 49 By developing and nationally distributing
                           onboarding materials to new tribal staff specific to the environmental
                           media with which they work, EPA and tribal environmental programs can
                           more efficiently train new hires and reduce training burdens on tribal staff,
                           thereby helping tribes and EPA better fulfill their grant commitments.

EPA and Tribal Officials   EPA and tribal officials we interviewed also identified communication
Identified Ongoing         challenges related to technology and deadlines, and EPA regional
                           officials have been working to address these challenges in several ways.
Communication
                           However, EPA and tribal officials we interviewed also identified ongoing
Challenges, Which EPA      communication challenges related to outdated and unclear guidance,
Has Taken Some Actions     which have created inconsistencies in EPA grant requirements and
to Address                 eligibility determinations.

                           Regarding technology, officials we interviewed in six EPA regions said
                           that a tribe’s connectivity, such as internet and phone access—
                           sometimes due to the tribe’s remoteness—can create communication
                           challenges. In addition, officials from five EPA regions and seven of the
                           tribes we interviewed said that they faced issues with the Grants.gov
                           website and the functionality of applying and receiving grant applications
                           through that system, which has caused some tribes to have to submit
                           grant documentation multiple times. For example, officials from one tribe
                           in Region 6 said that EPA often reports that it did not receive all the
                           necessary documents from Grants.gov, and requires the tribe to resubmit
                           them. One tribal official in Region 10 explained that the time-out function
                           of the Grants.gov system is frustrating because the system does not save
                           progress in completing applications, and uploading a completed
                           application can take an entire day because the tribe has to restart its
                           application multiple times. An official we interviewed from a tribe in
                           Region 9 said that Grants.gov is not user friendly and that the search bar
                           is not always helpful in finding EPA funding opportunity numbers, which
                           are required for any grant application.

                           In response to these technology challenges, EPA regional officials have
                           been working to improve communication with Indian tribes in several
                           ways. For example, EPA regional officials said that being persistent and
                           using multiple channels of communication can help address some of the
                           issues with connectivity when communicating with tribes. To address
                           issues with Grants.gov, in some situations, EPA has provided waivers for

                           49EPA,    Working Together: FY2018-2022 U.S. EPA Strategic Plan.




                           Page 35                                                 GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
tribes to apply directly to EPA outside of the Grants.gov system. In
addition, after hearing that some tribes had difficulty searching for EPA
grants on the Grants.gov website, Region 9 officials said they updated
their grant application guidance to bypass the website’s search engine.
Region 9 officials said that they are now working to disseminate, to all
tribes in their region, guidance on how to avoid the Grants.gov search bar
issue, as well as other grant application guidance.

Regarding deadlines, officials from one EPA region and six of the tribes
we interviewed said EPA sometimes provides information about grant or
consultation opportunities too late for tribes to effectively act on it. For
example, according to tribal officials, state and local officials started an
effort supported by EPA to map wetland toxicities in areas around the
Pueblo de San Ildefonso. However, the grant award specified that testing
could not be conducted on tribal lands. By the time EPA informed the
Pueblo of a separate grant they could apply for to do the same mapping
on tribal lands and add it to the larger study, it was too late to apply, and
the study ultimately resulted in maps with no data for tribal land areas. To
address this communication issue, EPA regional officials said that in
addition to frequent communication with individual tribes, they also hold
Regional Tribal Operations Committee (RTOC) meetings that bring all
tribes, or tribal representatives, in a region together to discuss issues.
Tribal officials from three tribes we interviewed said that they rely on
RTOC meetings to hear not only from EPA but also from other tribes in
the region about what EPA grants are available and what is involved in
applying for the grants. RTOC meetings are held regularly, which helps
address deadline concerns as tribes and EPA frequently connect and
discuss upcoming opportunities. For example, Jicarilla Apache officials
we interviewed said they were able to take advantage of a grant
opportunity after learning about it from another tribe at a RTOC meeting;
the grant they received was used to remove 6,000 used tires from their
reservation.

Although EPA has taken some steps to improve communication with
tribes, challenges remain because of outdated and unclear guidance.
Officials from eight of the nine tribes we interviewed that use EPA’s
guidance documents for quality assurance project plans (QAPP)—written
documents that describe the tribe’s plans for collecting and using
environmental data—and GAP highlighted challenges with outdated and




Page 36                                          GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
unclear guidance. 50 For example, tribal officials from the Pueblo de San
Ildefonso explained ongoing concerns over the QAPP guidance in
communicating EPA’s documentation requirements. Pueblo officials said
that one project officer requested Standard Operating Procedures with
specific action levels for chemicals in a water quality assurance project
plan, but another project officer wanted action levels for different
chemicals, and when the tribe added them, the project officer then
requested the information in a different format. 51 According to the tribe,
the rewriting and back and forth took months before the tribe’s QAPP was
approved by EPA. The current guidance for EPA QAPPs is from 2002
and 111 pages long; however, according to Pueblo officials, it does not
cover all the documentation that EPA would like to see included in a
QAPP for approval. 52

In another example of challenges caused by unclear guidance, the
Southern Ute Indian Tribe has had difficulty determining activity eligibility
under GAP. According to these tribal officials, their understanding is that
maintenance activities are allowable under GAP, and AIEO officials told
us they agreed. However, what is considered a maintenance activity is
unclear because “maintenance” is not defined in the GAP guidance, and
this ambiguity can create inefficiencies. For example, officials from the
Southern Ute Indian Tribe said they spend a lot of time trying to
determine eligibility based on project officer interpretations; their efforts
include writing memorandums with legal citations and rewriting and
redeveloping work plans. These officials said they recently requested
using part of their GAP award for air monitoring maintenance—a request
that was initially denied by a Region 8 project officer. In contrast, tribal
officials in Region 9 said they have been encouraged to use GAP for air
monitoring support because of the declining air grants in that region. After
3 weeks of communication back and forth, EPA approved the funding

50These are commonly used guidance documents. EPA awarded at least 610 new grants
under Clean Water Act section 106 and Clean Air Act sections 103 and 105 that require
QAPPs and at least 645 new grants under GAP for fiscal years 2014 through 2019.
Because these grants can be included in a PPG, we were unable to determine the exact
number based on IGMS data, but the reported numbers are the minimum amount of new
grant awards for those grant programs.
51Action levels for chemicals are toxicity measures to indicate when certain actions must
be taken to protect human health if a certain concentration amount is reached.
52EPA, EPA Guidance for Quality Assurance Project Plans, EPA QA/G-5 (Washington,
D.C.: December 2002). According to EPA QAPP guidance, Standard Operating
Procedures may be in an appendix or the procedures may be referenced if they are easily
accessible to reviewers.




Page 37                                                   GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
request by the Southern Ute Indian tribe to have GAP support
maintenance activities, according to tribal officials.

Officials we interviewed from six EPA regions also said that the eligibility
definitions in the current GAP guidance are unclear, with some officials
elaborating that the guidance is contradictory and has redundant
requirements causing administrative burdens. EPA officials said that
AIEO is in the process of developing new GAP guidance but did not
provide any documentation on the effort or an estimated time frame for
completing the guidance. AIEO officials we interviewed said that they are
reluctant to define the term “maintenance” in any updated guidance
because doing so may restrict currently eligible activities. However, under
the current guidance, maintenance activities are already restricted
because of narrow interpretations of the unclear guidance. For example,
an official from a tribe in Region 9 said the tribe was told that activities to
maintain technical capacity are ineligible for GAP. Furthermore, according
to officials from the Pueblo de San Ildefonso of Region 6, they have been
told that vehicle maintenance is prohibited as an eligible activity under
GAP. According to EPA regional officials, however, the eligibility
prohibition on vehicles is that vehicles cannot be leased from the General
Services Administration through EPA grants. Other vehicle maintenance
is allowable, according to these officials, yet this is not clear in GAP
guidance. 53

EPA’s strategic plan for fiscal years 2018 through 2022 includes a goal to
develop more effective partnerships, which includes initiatives to clarify
the agency’s statutory roles and responsibilities and reduce burdens on
tribes. 54 Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government state
that agency management should internally and externally communicate
the necessary quality information to achieve the entity’s objectives. 55 By
developing and distributing updated guidance for project officers and
tribes for QAPPs and GAP that clarifies documentation requirements and
grant eligibility definitions, EPA could more effectively communicate with
tribes regarding requirements and eligibility, thereby helping EPA meet its
goal of developing more effective partnerships.



53EPA officials told us that OMB’s Uniform Guidance (2 C.F.R. pt. 200) informs grantees
of allowable costs.
54EPA,    Working Together: FY2018-2022 U.S. EPA Strategic Plan.
55GAO-14-704G.




Page 38                                                 GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
              EPA provides a wide variety of grants to Indian tribes to address
Conclusions   environmental concerns and works closely with tribes to protect human
              health and the environment. However, financial, staffing, and
              communication challenges can complicate tribes’ efforts to address their
              environmental concerns through grants. Tribes and EPA use
              Performance Partnership Grants to enhance funding flexibility and reduce
              administrative burdens, but PPG best practices guidance and grant
              eligibility are unclear. In some regions, EPA grant project officers require
              tribes to track PPG grants separately or do not allow tribes to move funds
              between grants when needed. By clarifying in best practices guidance
              that PPGs should combine funds into a single budget with flexible funds,
              EPA could help address challenges caused by funding shortfalls,
              increase funding flexibility, and reduce administrative burdens for tribes
              and EPA. We also identified inconsistencies in documentation on which
              grants are eligible for inclusion in PPGs. There is no current, accurate list
              available for reference. Without an accessible and accurate list of grants
              eligible for PPG inclusion, tribes may not be able to take full advantage of
              the funding flexibility of PPGs to help them manage human health and
              environmental risks on tribal lands.

              The workload and staffing levels for EPA grant staff, especially in regions
              with a high number of tribes and grants, can make it difficult for staff in
              those regions to train new staff when there is high turnover. According to
              EPA grant staff, to mitigate this challenge, some EPA regions have
              developed or are developing onboarding materials for staff who are new
              to working on tribal grants, but such materials do not exist in every EPA
              region. By developing and nationally distributing onboarding materials to
              grant specialists and project officers new to working with Indian tribes and
              tribal grants, EPA can address the challenges associated with fluctuating
              levels of expertise among grant staff and better meet its objective of
              improving the efficiency and effectiveness of tribal grant programs.
              According to EPA and tribal officials we interviewed, staff turnover for
              tribes is also high, and retraining new staff is time consuming. Some EPA
              regions have onboarding materials for new tribal staff, including checklists
              for grants for specific environmental media, such as air; however, other
              regions do not. By developing and nationally distributing onboarding
              materials to new tribal staff specific to the environmental media with
              which they work, EPA and tribal environmental programs can more
              efficiently train new hires and reduce training burdens on tribal staff,
              thereby helping tribes and EPA better fulfill their grant commitments.

              In addition, commonly used EPA guidance documents for quality
              assurance project plans and the Indian Environmental General


              Page 39                                          GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                      Assistance Program are outdated and unclear. In practice, outdated or
                      redundant documentation requirements and unclear guidance for
                      eligibility have created administrative burdens and resulted in inconsistent
                      eligibility restrictions, according to several tribal and regional officials we
                      interviewed. By developing and distributing updated QAPP and GAP
                      guidance for project officers and tribes that clarifies documentation
                      requirements and eligibility definitions, EPA could more effectively
                      communicate with tribes regarding requirements and eligibility, thereby
                      helping EPA meet its goal of developing more effective partnerships.

                      We are making the following five recommendations to EPA:
Recommendations for
Executive Action      The Associate Administrator of EPA’s Office of Congressional and
                      Intergovernmental Relations should update Performance Partnership
                      Grant (PPG) best practices guidance for tribes to clarify, for EPA and
                      tribal staff, how PPGs operate, including that tribes may use PPG funds
                      for any activity that is eligible under any grant eligible for inclusion in
                      PPGs. (Recommendation 1)

                      The Associate Administrator of EPA’s Office of Congressional and
                      Intergovernmental Relations should update the list of grants eligible for
                      inclusion in a Performance Partnership Grant so that all grants the office
                      has determined eligible, including those identified under current or any
                      revised regulation as eligible, are listed and ensure the list is publicly
                      available on the EPA website. (Recommendation 2)

                      The Director of EPA’s Office of Grants and Debarment, working with each
                      region’s grant management office, should develop and nationally
                      distribute onboarding materials for grant specialists and project officers
                      new to working with Indian tribes that includes guidance specific to
                      working with tribes and tribal grants. (Recommendation 3)

                      The Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of International and Tribal
                      Affairs, working with national program offices that oversee grants to
                      tribes, should develop and nationally distribute onboarding materials for
                      grants management, such as initial checklists, grant application guidance,
                      or other materials related to specific environmental media (e.g., air, water,
                      hazardous waste) to assist new tribal staff in applying for grants and
                      conducting grant work. (Recommendation 4)

                      The Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and
                      Radiation, the Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Water, and the
                      Director of EPA’s American Indian Environmental Office should update


                      Page 40                                           GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                  and nationally distribute guidance for project officers and tribes that
                  clarifies documentation requirements and eligibility definitions for quality
                  assurance project plans and the Indian Environmental General
                  Assistance Program. (Recommendation 5)

                  We provided a draft of this report to the Environmental Protection Agency
Agency Comments   for review and comment. EPA provided written comments, which are
                  summarized below and reproduced in appendix III. EPA also provided
                  technical comments, which we incorporated, as appropriate.

                  In its written comments, EPA stated that it agreed with certain aspects of
                  our findings, conclusions, and recommendations and disagreed with other
                  aspects. EPA noted that it disagrees with any implication in the report that
                  it is not adequately supporting tribal environmental programs through its
                  grant awards to tribes and tribal entities, and believes the considerable
                  success in tribes’ implementation of delegated federal programs is an
                  indication of this success; EPA also noted it believes the report’s
                  conclusion that stagnant funding equals inadequate funding is not
                  supported by the findings. The report provides multiple examples of how
                  tribes have used EPA grants to support capacity building for developing
                  their environmental programs and to implement these programs that
                  address numerous environmental concerns, including examples of
                  delegated federal programs. At the same time, as stated in the report,
                  EPA officials from nine EPA regions and the five EPA headquarters
                  offices that issued grants told us that stagnant and declining funding
                  levels have been a key challenge affecting tribes’ ability to address their
                  environmental concerns through EPA grants. As described in the report,
                  the overall total amount awarded by region remained nearly the same for
                  fiscal years 2014 through 2019, while the number of grantees slightly
                  increased. In addition, officials from six EPA regions said that funding
                  levels are not adequate to sustain certain programs. As our
                  recommendations indicate, we believe EPA can take further actions to
                  support tribes in addressing their environmental concerns through EPA
                  grants.

                  Regarding the recommendations, EPA disagreed with the first and
                  second recommendations because it believes the agency has already
                  taken the actions we recommend. Specifically, for the first
                  recommendation, EPA stated that OCIR’s National Program Guidance,
                  which is updated every two years, adequately addresses the
                  recommendation that EPA update PPG guidance for tribal and EPA staff
                  to demonstrate how PPGs operate, including on eligible activities. We
                  agree that OCIR’s National Program Guidance contains the correct


                  Page 41                                          GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
information on eligible activities in PPGs. However, as stated in the
report, EPA and tribal officials told us that they consult EPA’s PPG best
practices guidance, not the OCIR guidance, to determine activity eligibility
and develop PPG applications. We adjusted the language of the
recommendation to clarify that it is EPA’s PPG best practices guidance
that is the focus of the recommendation. For the second
recommendation, EPA stated that it has updated the list of grants eligible
for PPGs for tribes on its website, and therefore disagrees that the
recommendation is needed. However, as detailed in the report, several
grants are still missing from the OCIR website list. Therefore, we continue
to believe that updating the list of eligible grants in the PPG best practices
guidance and OCIR website will help ensure that tribes can take full
advantage of the funding flexibility of PPGs to reduce administrative
burdens.

EPA agreed with the last three recommendations and described actions it
plans to take in response to these recommendations. For example, EPA
plans to update documentation requirements and eligibility definitions in
its new QAPP guidance as part of the regional review process, which is
expected to be completed in September 2021.

As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce the contents of
this report earlier, we plan no further distribution until 30 days from the
report date. At that time, we will send copies of this report to the
appropriate congressional committees and the Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, the report will be available
at no charge on the GAO website at http://www.gao.gov.




Page 42                                          GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
If you or your staff members have any questions about this report, please
contact us at (202) 512-3841 or gomezj@gao.gov or ortiza@gao.gov.
Contact points for our Office of Congressional Relations and Public
Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made
key contributions to the report are listed in appendix IV.




J. Alfredo Gómez
Director, Natural Resources and Environment




Anna Maria Ortiz
Director, Natural Resources and Environment




Page 43                                        GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
List of Requesters

The Honorable Bernie Sanders
Ranking Member
Committee on the Budget
United States Senate

The Honorable Thomas Udall
Vice Chairman
Committee on Indian Affairs
United States Senate

The Honorable Raúl M. Grijalva
Chairman
Committee on Natural Resources
House of Representatives

The Honorable Ruben Gallego
Chairman
Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States
Committee on Natural Resources
House of Representatives

The Honorable Peter Aguilar
House of Representatives

The Honorable Donald S. Beyer, Jr.
House of Representatives

The Honorable Tony Cárdenas
House of Representatives

The Honorable Yvette D. Clarke
House of Representatives

The Honorable William Lacy Clay
House of Representatives

The Honorable Jared Huffman
House of Representatives

The Honorable Daniel T. Kildee
House of Representatives


Page 44                                     GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
The Honorable Derek Kilmer
House of Representatives

The Honorable Ann Kirkpatrick
House of Representatives

The Honorable Alan S. Lowenthal
House of Representatives

The Honorable Ben Ray Luján
House of Representatives

The Honorable Betty McCollum
House of Representatives

The Honorable Gwen Moore
House of Representatives

The Honorable Grace F. Napolitano
House of Representatives

The Honorable Frank Pallone, Jr.
House of Representatives

The Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard
House of Representatives

The Honorable Raul Ruiz, M.D.
House of Representatives

The Honorable Linda T. Sanchez
House of Representatives

The Honorable Mark Takano
House of Representatives

The Honorable Norma J. Torres
House of Representatives




Page 45                               GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Methodology


Methodology

              You asked us to review the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)
              grants to tribes. This report examines (1) the amount and type of grants
              EPA awarded to tribes for fiscal years 2014 through 2019; (2) how tribes
              have used these grants; and (3) challenges tribes and EPA identified in
              addressing environmental concerns through grants, and EPA’s actions to
              address these challenges.

              To examine the grant amounts EPA has awarded tribes, we worked with
              officials from EPA’s Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) and
              American Indian and Environmental Office (AIEO) to gather information
              about grants that EPA awards directly to tribes. We compared grant
              award data from EPA’s Integrated Grants Management System (IGMS),
              which OGD manages, and data gathered by AIEO for fiscal years 2014
              through 2019. Based on conversations with OGD, we determined that
              data from IGMS, which includes information for grants awarded directly to
              tribes and other tribal entities during our time frame, was the best data to
              use for our purposes, because it did not include double-counting and is
              the official database of record for EPA. 1 IGMS included information such
              as the amount and type of the grant and grantee name. 2 To learn more
              about the grant types EPA has awarded tribes, we reviewed descriptions
              of the grants in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance for each
              grant type awarded to tribes and other tribal entities. 3 To assess the
              reliability of the data, we reviewed documentation, such as the IGMS
              database dictionary; interviewed EPA OGD officials about the database,
              including how data are entered into the system and quality controlled; and
              conducted logic testing to identify obvious errors. We determined that
              these data were sufficiently reliable for our purposes of identifying the
              grant amounts and types EPA has awarded directly to tribes.

              We then analyzed the data to determine the total number of new grants,
              types of grants, and grant amounts awarded directly to tribes and other

              1IGMS    is EPA’s management information system for grant programs. Funds that were not
              awarded directly to tribes by EPA and funds included in interagency agreements, which
              transfer funds to other federal agencies to use for the tribes’ benefit or provide to the
              tribes, were not included in these data. We did not verify whether each recipient was
              eligible to receive the grant it was awarded.
              2The  data for determining an applicant type as an Indian Tribe are self-reported by grant
              recipients.
              3Other  tribal entities include intertribal consortia; nonprofits created by corporations
              established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act; and tribal housing
              authorities, among others.




              Page 46                                                      GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




tribal entities for fiscal years 2014 through 2019. 4 For the purpose of our
analysis, we considered tribes to be the grant recipients that received
EPA grant awards for fiscal years 2014 through 2019 who self-reported
as “Indian Tribe” in the IGMS data. This included 539 federally recognized
Indian tribes, including 12 bands or political subdivisions of federally
recognized Indian tribes, and 45 other tribal entities. We treated the 12
bands or political subdivisions of federally recognized tribes as additional
tribes because they received grants and self-reported to EPA as an
Indian tribe. These include the six bands of the Minnesota Chippewa
Tribe (Bois Forte Band (Nett Lake), Fond du Lac Band, Grand Portage
Band, Leech Lake Band, Mille Lacs Band, and White Earth Band); the
four bands of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada
(Battle Mountain Band, Elko Band, South Fork Band, and Wells Band);
and the two political subdivisions of the Passamaquoddy Tribe (Indian
Township Reservation and Pleasant Point Reservation). In total, this
added 12 tribes to our analysis. Other tribal entities included intertribal
consortia and tribal housing authorities that self-identified as “Indian
Tribe” in the IGMS data.

To examine how tribes have used EPA grants, we obtained
documentation and interviewed officials from 10 tribes and one intertribal
consortium, and conducted site visits with three of the 10 tribes.
Specifically, using IGMS data, we selected a nongeneralizable sample of
tribes and an intertribal consortium with a range of (1) geographic
locations, (2) amount and type of EPA grants received, and (3) size and
capacity of the tribal environmental programs. 5 The tribes and intertribal


4IGMS  tracks all grant transactions throughout the life of the grant. On a multiyear award,
funding may only be awarded in specific years, especially the first year. To determine the
most accurate grant amounts available, we identified all grants for fiscal years 2014
through 2019, with at least one action taken during that time frame. EPA, based on a
previous GAO recommendation in GAO, Grants Management: EPA Could Improve
Certain Monitoring Practices, GAO-16-530 (Washington, D.C.: July 14, 2016), is working
to update interagency agreement tracking and expects a new system to be implemented
by December 2020.
5We  selected tribes in different EPA regions and who have different environments, such
as desert or mountain land bases. We also selected tribes with a range of EPA grant
amounts and grant program types from a tribe who received only one small EPA grant
from one EPA grant program to a tribe who receives over a million dollars annually in EPA
grant funding from a number of EPA grant programs. We selected tribes with a range of
land sizes, and the type and range of work they do from a tribe who has focused on water
management for around 500 acres to a tribe that monitors the air, water, and land for
about 1 million acres.




Page 47                                                    GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




consortium we spoke with in-person or over the phone, or obtained
written responses via email, are:

•   Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians, California;
•   Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley in California;
•   Colorado River Indian Tribes of the Colorado River Indian
    Reservation, California and Arizona;
•   Jicarilla Apache Nation, New Mexico;
•   Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota (a band of the Minnesota
    Chippewa Tribe);
•   Morongo Band of Mission Indians, California;
•   Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, which consists of 20 tribes in
    Washington;
•   Pueblo de San Ildefonso, New Mexico; 6
•   Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota;
•   Southern Ute Indian Tribe of the Southern Ute Reservation, Colorado;
    and
•   Tohono O’odham Nation of Arizona.
We selected six of these tribes and the intertribal consortium listed here
using the sample criteria to conduct in-depth interviews using a standard
set of questions and reached out to them. Four tribes, the Augustine
Band of Cahuilla Indians in California, the Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the
Owens Valley in California, the Colorado River Indian Tribes in California
and Nevada, and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in California,
contacted us after learning about our review through our outreach efforts
and fit within our selection criteria. We conducted interviews using the
same standard set of questions for these four tribes.

To help identify tribes for site visits and interviews, and to gain a broader
understanding of the tribal use of EPA grants, we attended two
conferences where we informed tribes about our review and gathered
interested tribal contacts. The conferences also helped us understand
what information EPA shares with tribes about EPA grants, and tribal
questions and concerns about EPA grants. We attended the Institute for
Tribal Environmental Professionals Annual Conference in Palm Springs,

6The Bureau of Indian Affairs lists the name of the Pueblo de San Ildefonso, New Mexico,
as the Pueblo of San Ildefonso, New Mexico.




Page 48                                                 GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




California, in August 2019, and the Annual EPA Region 9 Tribal
Operations Committee Meeting and Conference in Maricopa, Arizona, in
October 2019. The tribal activities discussed in this report are only a
sample of the ongoing efforts we heard about in interviews and at
conferences.

We also conducted site visits to three tribes in Colorado and New Mexico
in January 2020. We selected these tribes for our site visits to ensure
variation in geographic location and EPA region, diversity of grant types
and amounts of EPA grants received, and different sizes and capacities in
the tribal environmental programs. During our site visits, we interviewed
tribal officials, such as tribal environmental program directors, program
coordinators, and technical specialists. We observed projects and
programs with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Colorado, Jicarilla Apache
Nation in New Mexico, and the Pueblo de San Ildefonso in New Mexico.
We toured air and water monitoring sites in New Mexico and observed
logistical difficulties, such as distances between monitoring sites, faced by
tribal officials while they are working on EPA grant programs. In Colorado,
we also toured three brownfields sites and met with technical specialists
in every media program area (i.e., air, water, brownfields, etc.). We
obtained related documentation, as available, from tribal and EPA officials
familiar with tribes’ work at these selected sites. The results of our site
visits and interviews with selected tribes are not generalizable to all tribes
and tribal entities that have received EPA grants.

To examine challenges EPA and tribal officials identified in addressing
environmental concerns through grants, as well as EPA’s actions to
address these challenges, we obtained documentation from and
interviewed EPA officials with the Office of Air and Radiation; the Office of
Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations; the Office of Chemical
Safety and Pollution Prevention; the Office of International and Tribal
Affairs including the American Indian Environmental Office; the Office of
Land and Emergency Management; the Office of Water; and all 10 EPA
regional offices. We received written responses from EPA’s Office of the
General Counsel. We also obtained documentation from and interviewed
officials from each of the 10 selected tribes and the intertribal consortium
discussed above about the challenges they face in using EPA grants and
the actions EPA has taken in addressing these challenges. We also
gathered information from tribes that presented on challenges related to
EPA grants at the two conferences we attended. We used the information
gathered at the conferences to inform our question set for in-depth
interviews and to connect with and identify tribes for future interviews.
After conducting all the interviews, we analyzed the responses to identify


Page 49                                          GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




the most frequently cited challenges, which are discussed in the third
objective.

To assess the actions EPA has taken, we compared EPA’s policies,
procedures, and guidance with Standards for Internal Control in the
Federal Government. 7 We determined that the information and
communication, and control activities components of internal control were
significant to this objective, along with the underlying related principles
that management should internally and externally communicate
necessary quality information to achieve its objectives and that
management should design control activities to achieve objectives and
respond to risks. We assessed the content of EPA’s policies, procedures,
and guidance against these principles. We also reviewed actions EPA
has taken and compared them to EPA’s current strategic plan for fiscal
years 2018 through 2022. 8

We conducted this performance audit from July 2019 to October 2020, in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
conclusions based on our audit objectives.




7GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO-14-704G
(Washington, D.C.: September 2014).
8EPA, Working Together: FY2018-2022 U.S. EPA Strategic Plan (Washington, D.C.:
February 2018).




Page 50                                              GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Appendix II: EPA Grant Awards to FederallyAppendix II: EPA Grant Awards to Federally
                                          Recognized Tribes and Other Tribal Entities,


Recognized Tribes and Other Tribal Entities,
                                          Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019




Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019
                                          For fiscal years 2014 through 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency
                                          (EPA) awarded grants to federally recognized tribes and other tribal
                                          entities through 43 grant programs. This includes grant programs that are
                                          exclusive to federally recognized tribes and, in some cases, intertribal
                                          consortia, and general grant programs for which federally recognized
                                          tribes, other tribal entities, and others are eligible to apply. Table 3 shows
                                          the total amount of grant awards to tribes and other tribal entities for each
                                          of these 43 grant programs, during this time frame, based on data from
                                          EPA’s Integrated Grants Management System (IGMS). 1

Table 3: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grants Awarded Directly to Federally Recognized Tribes and Other Tribal
Entities, Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019

Grant programa name        Grant program description                                                            Total grant awards to
(Catalog of Federal                                                                                            tribes and other tribal
Domestic Assistance                                                                                             entities,b fiscal years
code)                                                                                                              2014 through 2019
                                                                                                                               (dollars)
Performance Partnership    Assistance to states, territories, tribes, and intertribal consortia through a                 331,900,000
Grant Program (66.605)     grant delivery tool that allows these recipients to combine eligible State and
                           Tribal Assistance Grants into a single grant with a single budget. A
                           Performance Partnership Grant can reduce administrative transaction costs,
                           provide the flexibility to direct resources toward the highest priority
                           environmental problems, and support cross-media approaches and initiatives.


                                          1IGMS    is EPA’s management information system for grant programs. We identified all
                                          grants awarded by EPA directly to tribes for fiscal years 2014 through 2019 where at least
                                          one grant-related action occurred during that time frame. The data for determining
                                          applicant type as an “Indian Tribe” are self-reported by grant recipients. These totals do
                                          not include any EPA funds that are provided to tribes by other entities, such as another
                                          federal agency or a state, or used by those entities for projects that benefit tribes because
                                          IGMS does not include data about interagency agreements or grant subrecipients. For
                                          example, the Clean Water Indian Set-Aside Grant Program data discussed in the table
                                          include the $3.6 million in grants provided by EPA directly to tribes; however, according to
                                          EPA officials from the Office of Water, the program also transferred approximately $180
                                          million to the Indian Health Service through interagency agreements for fiscal years 2014
                                          through 2019. These funds were used to undertake sanitation projects selected by EPA in
                                          coordination with the Indian Health Service and tribes. The Drinking Water Infrastructure:
                                          Tribal Set-Aside Program grant data in the table include the $13.5 million in grants
                                          provided by EPA directly to tribes; however, according to EPA officials from the Office of
                                          Water, the program also transferred approximately $107.9 million to the Indian Health
                                          Service through interagency agreements for fiscal years 2014 through 2019. These funds
                                          were used to undertake drinking water infrastructure projects selected by EPA in
                                          coordination with the Indian Health Service and tribes. Similarly, EPA provided
                                          approximately $103.4 million for fiscal years 2014 through 2019 to the state of Alaska’s
                                          Department of Environmental Conservation to award grants to tribes under the Alaska
                                          Native Villages and Rural Communities Grant program, according to EPA officials from the
                                          Office of Water; this is not included in the table because it was not provided from EPA
                                          directly to tribes. We did not verify whether each recipient was eligible to receive the grant
                                          it was awarded.




                                          Page 51                                                    GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                                              Appendix II: EPA Grant Awards to Federally
                                              Recognized Tribes and Other Tribal Entities,
                                              Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019




Grant programa name           Grant program description                                                               Total grant awards to
(Catalog of Federal                                                                                                  tribes and other tribal
Domestic Assistance                                                                                                   entities,b fiscal years
code)                                                                                                                    2014 through 2019
                                                                                                                                     (dollars)
Indian Environmental          Assistance to tribes and intertribal consortia to build tribal capacity to                        284,400,000
General Assistance Grant      administer environmental regulatory programs and provide technical
Program (66.926)              assistance in the development of multimedia programs. Supports activities
                              such as planning, developing, and establishing the capability to implement
                              programs administered by EPA, including the development and
                              implementation of solid and hazardous waste programs.
Superfund State, Political    Assistance to states, territories, tribes, and intertribal consortia to conduct site               61,600,000
Subdivision, and Indian       characterization activities at potential or confirmed hazardous waste sites,
Tribe Site-Specific           undertake response planning and implementation actions at sites on the
Cooperative Agreement         National Priorities List—which includes some of the most seriously
Program (66.802)              contaminated sites—to clean up hazardous waste found to pose hazards to
                              human health and effectively implement the statutory requirements of the
                              Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act,
                              section 121(f).
State and Tribal Response     Assistance to states and tribes to enhance response programs, such as by                           55,300,000
Grant Program (66.817)        establishing and maintaining a public record of sites, inventorying brownfield
                              sites,c establishing legal authorities for environmental programs, and
                              addressing contaminated brownfield sites through assessment and cleanup,
                              hiring and training staff, creating procedures for meaningful community
                              involvement and for site-specific work and conducting activities to reduce the
                              number of and revitalize contaminated sites. Activities can also support
                              capacity to inventory underground storage tank sites, develop an integrated
                              solid waste management plan, and develop and implement oversight and
                              enforcement of the tribe’s environmental programs.
Water Pollution Control -     Assistance to states, tribes, intertribal consortia, and other groups to establish                 49,000,000
Clean Water Act section       and maintain adequate measures for prevention and control of surface and
106 Grant Program             ground water pollution from both point and nonpoint sources.
(66.419)
Puget Sound Protection        Assistance to tribes and intertribal consortia of the Greater Puget Sound                          43,300,000
and Restoration Tribal        Basin to protect and restore the Puget Sound. This work includes activities
Implementation Assistance     such as efforts to support salmon recovery plans.
Grant Program (66.121)
Air Quality - Clean Air Act   Assistance to tribes to support tribal efforts to understand, assess, and                          33,900,000
section 103 Grant Program     characterize air quality and to design methods and plans to protect and
(66.038)                      improve air quality on tribal lands through surveys, studies, research, training,
                              investigations, and special-purpose activities.
Air Pollution Control - Clean Assistance to states, tribes, intertribal consortia, and other groups to plan,                     16,200,000
Air Act section 105 Grant     develop, establish, improve, and maintain adequate programs for the
Program (66.001)              continuing prevention and control of air pollution and for the implementation of
                              national primary and secondary air quality standards.
Drinking Water                Assistance to states, territories, and tribes to finance infrastructure                            13,500,000
Infrastructure: Tribal Set-   improvements for public drinking water systems.
Aside Grant Program
(66.468)




                                              Page 52                                                       GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                                            Appendix II: EPA Grant Awards to Federally
                                            Recognized Tribes and Other Tribal Entities,
                                            Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019




Grant programa name          Grant program description                                                            Total grant awards to
(Catalog of Federal                                                                                              tribes and other tribal
Domestic Assistance                                                                                               entities,b fiscal years
code)                                                                                                                2014 through 2019
                                                                                                                                 (dollars)
Nonpoint Source              Assistance to states, tribes, and intertribal consortia for implementing EPA-                   13,000,000
Implementation - Clean       approved nonpoint source water pollution management programs.
Water Act section 319
Grant Program (66.460)
Environmental Information    Assistance to states, tribes, and other groups to foster better environmental                   10,800,000
Exchange Network Grant       management and decision-making through increased access to timely and
Program (66.608)             high-quality environmental information.
National Clean Diesel     Assistance to states, tribes, and other groups to support retrofits to reduce                        8,800,000
Emissions Reduction Grant emissions for buses (including school buses), medium heavy-duty or heavy
Program (66.039)          heavy-duty diesel trucks, marine engines, locomotives, or nonroad engines or
                          diesel vehicles or equipment used in construction, handling of cargo
                          (including at ports or airports), agriculture, mining, or energy production.
Great Lakes Restoration      Assistance to states, tribes, and other groups to restore and maintain the                        7,500,000
Initiative Grant Program     chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin
(66.469)                     ecosystem.
Direct Implementation        Assistance to tribes and intertribal consortia to work with EPA to directly                       7,100,000
Tribal Cooperative           implement federal environmental programs required or authorized by law in
Agreements (66.473)          the absence of an acceptable tribal program.
Underground Storage Tank Assistance to states, territories, tribes, and intertribal consortia to develop and                   6,800,000
Prevention, Detection, and implement underground storage tank programs and for leak prevention,
Compliance Grant Program compliance, and other activities.
(66.804)
Brownfields Assessment       Assistance to states, tribes (except in Alaska), and other groups to inventory,                   5,800,000
and Cleanup Cooperative      characterize, assess, and conduct planning and community involvement
Agreement Program            related to brownfield sites, capitalize a revolving loan fund and provide
(66.818)                     subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites, and carry out
                             cleanup activities at brownfield sites that are owned by the grant recipient.
Consolidated Pesticides      Assistance to states, territories, and tribes to participate in a cooperative                     5,400,000
Enforcement Cooperative      agreement program to support and strengthen their pesticide compliance
Agreement Program            programs, including pesticide compliance monitoring, inspection, and
(66.700)                     enforcement activities.
State Public Water System Assistance to states and tribes with primary enforcement responsibility for the                      5,200,000
Supervision Grant Program public water system supervision program to implement a public water system
(66.432)                  supervision program.
Clean Air Act Surveys,       Assistance to state, local, tribal governments, intertribal consortia, and other                  3,800,000
Studies, Research,           groups to support surveys, studies, research, investigations, demonstrations,
Investigations,              and assistance relating to the causes, effects (including health and welfare
Demonstrations, and          effects), extent, prevention, and control of air pollution. This includes topics
Special Purpose Activities   such as air quality, acid deposition, global programs, indoor environments,
Grant Program (66.034)       radiation, mobile source technology, and community-driven approaches to
                             transportation and emissions reduction.




                                            Page 53                                                      GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                                              Appendix II: EPA Grant Awards to Federally
                                              Recognized Tribes and Other Tribal Entities,
                                              Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019




Grant programa name           Grant program description                                                               Total grant awards to
(Catalog of Federal                                                                                                  tribes and other tribal
Domestic Assistance                                                                                                   entities,b fiscal years
code)                                                                                                                    2014 through 2019
                                                                                                                                     (dollars)
Clean Water State             Assistance to states and tribes to plan, design, and construct wastewater                            3,600,000
Revolving Funds               treatment facilities; provide low-cost financing to eligible entities within tribal
Capitalization Grant          lands for water quality projects, including all types of nonpoint source,
Program (66.458)              watershed protection or restoration, and estuary management projects; as
                              well as to conduct more traditional municipal wastewater treatment projects.
Leaking Underground           Assistance to states, territories, tribes, and intertribal consortia to oversee and                  2,600,000
Storage Tank Trust Fund       correct actions associated with petroleum releases from federally regulated
Corrective Action Program     underground storage tanks, as well as for enforcement activities related to
(66.805)                      such corrective action.
Regional Wetland Program      Assistance to states, tribes, intertribal consortia, and other groups to build                       2,400,000
Development Grant             wetland programs. A secondary focus is to build local (e.g., county or
Program (66.461)              municipal) programs.
Science To Achieve            Assistance to states, tribes, and other groups to stimulate and support                              1,700,000
Results Research Grant        scientific and engineering research that advances EPA’s mission to protect
Program (66.509)              human health and the environment. Science To Achieve Results supports
                              research on the environmental and public health effects of air quality,
                              environmental changes, water quality and quantity, hazardous wastes, toxic
                              substances, and pesticides.
Surveys, Studies,             Assistance to states, territories, tribes, and other groups to support water                         1,600,000
Investigations,               protection programs, operator certification programs, tribal capacity
Demonstrations, and           development programs, and for the administration of drinking water system
Training - section 1442 of    infrastructure.
the Safe Drinking Water Act
Grant Program (66.424)
Hazardous Waste               Assistance to tribes and intertribal consortia for developing and implementing                       1,500,000
Management for Tribes         hazardous waste programs; building capacity to improve and maintain
Grant Program (66.812)        regulatory compliance; and developing solutions to address hazardous waste
                              management on tribal lands.
Congressionally Mandated      Assistance to states, territories, tribes, and other groups to implement special                     1,400,000
Projects Grant Program        congressionally directed projects or programs identified in EPA’s annual
(66.202)                      appropriations act, committee reports incorporated by reference into the
                              annual appropriations act, and other statutes mandating that EPA provide
                              financial assistance agreements to designated recipients for projects or
                              programs.
Superfund State and Indian    Assistance to states, territories, and tribes to conduct Comprehensive                               1,000,000
Tribe Core Program            Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act activities that are
Cooperative Agreements        not assignable to specific sites but that support a recipient’s site-specific
(66.809)                      response program. Examples include developing procedures for emergency
                              response actions and remediation of environmental and health risks,
                              establishing legal authorities and enforcement support, hiring and training
                              staff, and activities to support EPA and recipient interaction.
Beach Monitoring and        Assistance for coastal and Great Lakes states, territories, and tribes to                              1,000,000
Notification Implementation develop and implement monitoring and notification programs for coastal
Grant Program (66.472)      recreation waters adjacent to beaches or similar points of access that are
                            used by the public.




                                              Page 54                                                        GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                                              Appendix II: EPA Grant Awards to Federally
                                              Recognized Tribes and Other Tribal Entities,
                                              Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019




Grant programa name           Grant program description                                                              Total grant awards to
(Catalog of Federal                                                                                                 tribes and other tribal
Domestic Assistance                                                                                                  entities,b fiscal years
code)                                                                                                                   2014 through 2019
                                                                                                                                    (dollars)
State Indoor Radon Grant      Assistance to states, territories, tribes, intertribal consortia, and other groups                    980,000
Program (66.032)              to promote radon risk reduction through activities to increase radon testing,
                              mitigation, and radon-resistant new construction through Title III of the Toxic
                              Substances Control Act, the Indoor Radon Abatement Act, section 306.
Research, Development,        Assistance to states, territories, tribes, and other groups to support research,                      820,000
Monitoring, Public            development, monitoring, public education, training, demonstrations, and
Education, Outreach,          studies relating to the protection of public health and the environment from
Training, Demonstrations,     pesticides and potential risk from toxic substances. Also supports projects for
and Studies Grant Program     safer use of pesticides, including worker protection, certification and training
(66.716)                      of pesticide applicators, protection of endangered species, tribal pesticide
                              programs, integrated pest management, and environmental stewardship.
Pollution Prevention Grant    Assistance to states, territories, tribes, and intertribal consortia to implement                     620,000
Program (66.708)              pollution prevention technical assistance services for businesses and to
                              promote training in pollution prevention and source reduction techniques.
Toxic Substances Control      Assistance to states, territories, and tribes to develop and implement                                490,000
Act Title IV State Lead       authorized programs that can certify contractors engaged in lead-based paint
Certification of Lead-Based   remediation activities and accredit training programs for lead-based paint
Paint Professionals Grant     activities; certify contractors engaged in renovation, repair, and painting
Program (66.707)              activities that disturb painted surfaces in most target housing; and require
                              distribution of lead-hazard information prior to renovation (prerenovation
                              education program).
Southeast New England         Assistance to states, territories, tribes, intertribal consortia, and other groups                    460,000
Coastal Watershed             to develop and support the Southeast New England Program for coastal
Restoration Grant Program     watershed restoration. The program is geographically based and intended to
(66.129)                      serve as a collaborative framework for advancing ecosystem resiliency;
                              protecting and restoring water quality, habitat, and ecosystem function; and
                              developing and applying innovative policy, science, and technology to
                              environmental management in southeast coastal New England.
State Underground Water       Assistance to states, territories, and tribes to foster the development and                           450,000
Source Protection Grant       implementation of underground injection control programs under the Safe
Program (66.433)              Drinking Water Act.
Surveys, Studies,             Assistance to states, territories, tribes, intertribal consortia, and other groups                    410,000
Investigations,               to support the coordination and acceleration of research, investigations,
Demonstrations, and           experiments, training, demonstrations, surveys, and studies relating to the
Training Grant Program        causes and elimination of water pollution.
and Cooperative
Agreements - section
104(b)(3) of the Clean
Water Act (66.436)
Multipurpose Program        Assistance to states, territories, and tribes eligible under Clean Water Act                            300,000
Grants to States and Tribes 518(e) to implement high-priority activities, including the processing of
(66.204)                    permits, which complement programs under established environmental
                            statutes. These grants are awarded to assist with the implementation of
                            environmental programs.




                                              Page 55                                                       GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                                                               Appendix II: EPA Grant Awards to Federally
                                                               Recognized Tribes and Other Tribal Entities,
                                                               Fiscal Years 2014 through 2019




 Grant programa name                      Grant program description                                                                                          Total grant awards to
 (Catalog of Federal                                                                                                                                        tribes and other tribal
 Domestic Assistance                                                                                                                                         entities,b fiscal years
 code)                                                                                                                                                          2014 through 2019
                                                                                                                                                                            (dollars)
 Environmental Policy and                 Assistance to states, territories, tribes, and other groups to support analyses,                                                  280,000
 Innovation Grant Program                 studies, evaluations, workshops, conferences, and demonstration projects
 (66.611)                                 designed to reduce the generation of pollutants and to conserve natural
                                          resources.
 Environmental Justice                    Assistance to tribes and other groups to support communities dealing with                                                         230,000
 Small Grant Program                      environmental justice concerns through projects designed to empower and
 (66.604)                                 educate communities to better understand environmental and public health
                                          issues and to identify ways to address environmental justice issues at the
                                          local level. The long-term goals of the program are to help build the capacity
                                          of the affected communities and create self-sustaining, community-based
                                          partnerships that will continue to improve local environments in the future.
 Healthy Communities Grant Assistance to states, tribes, intertribal consortia, and other groups to support                                                                 220,000
 Program (66.110)          activities that provide education, outreach, or training in the Target Program
                           Areas: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island,
                           and Vermont.
 Environmental Education                  Assistance to states, territories, tribes, and other groups to support projects to                                                 60,000
 Grant Program (66.951)                   design, demonstrate, and disseminate practices, methods, or techniques
                                          related to environmental education and teacher training.
                                          As required by Public Law 101-619, this grant program provides financial
                                          support for environmental education projects implemented by tribal education
                                          agencies to increase public awareness and knowledge about environmental
                                          issues and provide the skills that participants need to make informed
                                          environmental decisions and take responsible actions toward the
                                          environment.
 Urban Waters Grant                       Assistance to states, territories, tribes, and other groups to protect, manage,                                                    56,000
 Program (66.440)                         and restore urban waterways.
 Gulf of Mexico Grant                     Assistance to states, tribes, and other groups to develop, implement, and                                                          25,000
 Program (66.475)                         demonstrate innovative approaches related to the causes, effects, extent,
                                          prevention, reduction, and elimination of water pollution in the Gulf of Mexico.
 Solid Waste Management                   Assistance to states, territories, tribes, intertribal consortia, and other groups                                                 11,000
 Assistance Grant Program                 to characterize and assess open dumps; develop waste management plans
 (66.808)                                 and tribal codes and regulations; develop and implement alternative solid
                                          waste management activities and facilities (including equipment acquisition);
                                          and develop and implement cleanup, closure, and postclosure programs for
                                          open dumps in Indian Country.
Source: GAO analysis of Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Code grant program listings and EPA Integrated Grants Management System data. | GAO-21-150
                                                               a
                                                                For the purposes of this report, the term “grant program” includes grants and cooperative
                                                               agreements awarded to federally recognized Indian tribes; other tribal entities; and other eligible
                                                               groups.
                                                               b
                                                                Other tribal entities include intertribal consortia; nonprofits created by corporations established
                                                               pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act; and tribal housing authorities, among others.
                                                               These are included in grants to tribes because these grant recipients self-reported as an “Indian
                                                               Tribe” in the Integrated Grants Management System data on applicant type. GAO did not verify
                                                               whether each recipient was eligible to receive the grant awarded.
                                                               c
                                                                 Brownfield sites are properties that may have hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants.
                                                               Brownfield sites may also be contaminated by controlled substances or petroleum.




                                                               Page 56                                                                         GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Appendix III: Comments from the
              Appendix III: Comments from the
              Environmental Protection Agency


Environmental Protection Agency




              Page 57                           GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Appendix III: Comments from the
Environmental Protection Agency




Page 58                           GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Appendix III: Comments from the
Environmental Protection Agency




Page 59                           GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Appendix III: Comments from the
Environmental Protection Agency




Page 60                           GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments


Acknowledgments

                  J. Alfredo Gómez, (202) 512-3841 or gomezj@gao.gov
GAO Contacts
                  Anna Maria Ortiz, (202) 512-3841 or ortiza@gao.gov

                  In addition to the contacts named above, Barbara Patterson (Assistant
Staff             Director), Natalie Block (Analyst-in-Charge), Kelsey Sagawa, Jeanette
Acknowledgments   Soares, and Nicole Weiss made key contributions to this report. Also
                  contributing to this report were John Delicath, Cindy Gilbert, and Sara
                  Sullivan.




(103628)
                  Page 61                                        GAO-21-150 EPA Grants to Tribes
                         The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and investigative
GAO’s Mission            arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional
                         responsibilities and to help improve the performance and accountability of the
                         federal government for the American people. GAO examines the use of public
                         funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses,
                         recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed
                         oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO’s commitment to good government
                         is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability.

                         The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no cost is
Obtaining Copies of      through our website. Each weekday afternoon, GAO posts on its website newly
GAO Reports and          released reports, testimony, and correspondence. You can also subscribe to
                         GAO’s email updates to receive notification of newly posted products.
Testimony
Order by Phone           The price of each GAO publication reflects GAO’s actual cost of production and
                         distribution and depends on the number of pages in the publication and whether
                         the publication is printed in color or black and white. Pricing and ordering
                         information is posted on GAO’s website, https://www.gao.gov/ordering.htm.
                         Place orders by calling (202) 512-6000, toll free (866) 801-7077, or
                         TDD (202) 512-2537.
                         Orders may be paid for using American Express, Discover Card, MasterCard,
                         Visa, check, or money order. Call for additional information.

                         Connect with GAO on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.
Connect with GAO         Subscribe to our RSS Feeds or Email Updates. Listen to our Podcasts.
                         Visit GAO on the web at https://www.gao.gov.

                         Contact FraudNet:
To Report Fraud,
                         Website: https://www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm
Waste, and Abuse in
                         Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7700
Federal Programs
                         Orice Williams Brown, Managing Director, WilliamsO@gao.gov, (202) 512-4400,
Congressional            U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7125,
Relations                Washington, DC 20548

                         Chuck Young, Managing Director, youngc1@gao.gov, (202) 512-4800
Public Affairs           U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149
                         Washington, DC 20548

                         James-Christian Blockwood, Managing Director, spel@gao.gov, (202) 512-4707
Strategic Planning and   U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7814,
External Liaison         Washington, DC 20548




                            Please Print on Recycled Paper.