oversight

Toxic Substances: EPA's Chemical Testing Program Has Made Little Progress

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-04-25.

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

                       TOXIC SUBSTANCES
                       EPA’s Chemical
                       Testing Program Has
                       Made Little Progress

                                                 a
                                       IN I
                                        141613




                  “,

GAO/RCED-90-112
Resources, Community,   and
Economic Development    Division

B-232917

April 25,199O

The Honorable Mike Synar
Chairman, Environment, Energy,
  and Natural Resources
  Subcommittee
Committee on Government Operations
House of Representatives

Dear Mr. Chairman:

As you requested, we evaluated the Interagency Testing Committee’s and Environmental
Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementation of the chemical testing program set forth under
section 4 of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. This report contains recommendations
and matters for congressional consideration aimed at improving the progress of the chemical
testing program.

As arranged with your office, unless you publicly release its contents earlier, we plan no
further distribution of this report until 30 days after the date of this letter. At that time, we
will send copies of the report to the appropriate congressional committees; the
Administrator, EPA; and the Director, Office of Management and Budget.

This work was performed under the direction of Richard L. Hembra, Director, Environmental
Protection Issues, (202) 275-6111. Other major contributors to this report are listed in
appendix I.

Sincerely yours,



    ’/@&wy
4
J. Dexter Peach
Assistant Comptroller General
                                  Executive Summary




                                  neither ITC nor EPA has produced a list of those that do not require test-
                                  ing. Moreover, EPA has compiled complete test data for only six chemi-
                                  cals since the enactment of TWA and has not finished assessing any of
                                  them. The testing program has made little progress primarily because
                                  EPA was slow to get started, but other problems remain, which, if not
                                  corrected, will further limit progress. These problems are as follows:

                              l   ITC lacks crucial data it needs to make recommendations. In addition, its
                                efforts may have been hampered by its members’ poor attendance at
                                monthly meetings.
                              . After proposing test rules, EPA continues to take an average of more
                                than 2 years to make them final, which is more than the 12- to l&month
                                time frame GAO recommended in 1984.
                              l More importantly, the testing program lacks overall objectives and a
                                strategy for achieving them.



Principal Findings

ITC Lacks Data and Has            ITC has designated 386 chemicals for testing since it began making rec-
Poor Member Participation         ommendations in 1977, or an average of about 32 chemicals per year.
                                  ITC'S efforts have been hampered by a lack of data it needs to justify
                                  recommendations. Throughout its chemical review efforts, ITC has had
                                  to use outdated production data because current data were not availa-
                                  ble. In addition, ITC has had difficulty obtaining exposure data because
                                  they are generally not readily available from chemical manufacturers
                                  and processors unless specifically requested.

                                  ITC'S progress may also have been impeded by its members’ poor attend-
                                  ance at monthly meetings. Members provide the expertise needed to
                                  review chemicals and must vote on which chemicals to recommend for
                                  testing. In a survey of ITC'S monthly meetings held between January
                                  1986 and April 1989, GAO found that the average attendance was about
                                  61 percent.


EPA Continues to Be Slow          As of the end of fiscal year 1989, EPA had required testing for about 39
in Issuing Final Test Rules       percent of the 386 chemicals that ITC had designated. It has made pre-
                                  liminary decisions to require testing for about 36 percent of the chemi-
                                  cals and has decided not to test about 25 percent. As GAO discussed in a
                                  June 1984 report entitled EPA'S Efforts to Identify and Control Harmful


                                  Page 3                            GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
                    Executive Summary




                    pace at which it plans to address these chemicals. As a result, EPA offi-
                    cials are unclear about the program’s direction and priorities. The
                    agency itself has reported that the absence of explicit written documen-
                    tation concerning such matters as program direction has contributed sig-
                    nificantly to the lack of productivity and the misdirection of EPA'S
                    overall chemical review efforts under X%X, including the testing
                    program.


                    To improve the progress of the chemical testing program, we recom-
Recommendations     mend that the Administrator of EPA do the following:

                    Exercise EPA'S data-gathering authority on ITC'S behalf under TSCA to
                    obtain the data that ITC needs to make recommendations.
                    Work with ITC to improve its member participation,
                    Place a high priority on issuing final test rules by ensuring that ade-
                    quate staff resources are devoted to completing test rules within a rea-
                    sonable time, such as the 12- to l&month time frame that GAO
                    recommended in 1984.
                  . Develop overall objectives for the testing program and a strategy for
                    achieving the objectives. These should identify, among other things, the
                    universe of chemicals EPA needs to address and the pace at which it
                    plans to address these chemicals.


                    To ensure that the chemical testing program achieves what the Congress
Matters for         intended, the Congress may want to require EPA to develop a comprehen-
Congressional       sive plan setting forth objectives, a strategy, and time frames, and sub-
Consideration       mit the plan to the Congress for approval.


                        discussed the matters in this report with EPA officials, who generally
Agency Comments     GAO
                    agreed with our findings and conclusions. However, as requested, GAO
                    did not obtain official agency comments on a draft of this report.




                    Page 6                            GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
                                                                                             h




Executive Summ~


                   More than 60,000 chemicals are in commerce in the United States. Some
Purpose            of these, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBS) and asbestos, have
                   been shown to cause tumors, birth defects, or cancer. Other chemicals
                   may be just as harmful, but adequate data do not exist to make that
                   determination, Section 4 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (rsc~)
                   authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require indus-
                   try to test potentially harmful chemicals for the purpose of developing
                   data on their health and environmental effects. Section 4 also created
                   the Interagency Testing Committee (ITC) to recommend to EPA chemicals
                   that should receive priority attention for testing.

                   Concerned about the lack of progress, the Chairman, Environment,
                   Energy, and Natural Resources Subcommittee, House Committee on Gov-
                   ernment Operations, asked GAO to evaluate ITC'S and EPA'S implementa-
                   tion of the chemical testing program set forth under section 4 of TSCA.


                   The Congress enacted TSCA in October 1976 to provide comprehensive
Background         regulatory authority over chemicals that were not covered by existing
                   legislation. The act applies to all chemicals except those in eight product
                   categories that are covered by other laws: pesticides, tobacco, nuclear
                   material, firearms and ammunition, food, food additives, drugs, and
                   cosmetics.

                   One important section of TscA-section 4-authorized       EPA to require
                   chemical manufacturers and processors to test potentially harmful
                   chemicals. EPA must show that existing data are insufficient to deter-
                   mine whether the chemicals in fact have toxic consequences and that
                   testing is needed to make that determination. Section 4 also created ITC,
                   which is composed of representatives from eight federal agencies
                   involved in environmental and health issues. ITC must report semiannu-
                   ally to EI’A and include a list of no more than 50 chemicals designated for
                   testing. EPA must respond to these chemical designations within 1 year
                   by proposing a test rule or explaining its reasons for not doing so in the
                   Federal Register. TSCAestablished no time requirements for EPA in issu-
                   ing a final test rule.


                   The chemical testing program has made little progress. It has identified
Results in Brief   for testing less than 1 percent of the more than 60,000 chemicals in the
           \y
                   TSCAinventory. Although not all 60,000 chemicals may need to be tested,




                   Page 2                            GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
                         Executive Summary




                         Chemicals in USe(GAO/RCED-84-100, June 13, 1984),EPA was slowtoimple-
                         ment the chemical testing program. GAO also noted that EPA, at that time,
                         had issued no final test rules and was taking too long (over 3 years) to
                         make a proposed rule final. GAO recommended that, after proposing test
                         rules, EPA make them final within a reasonable time, such as 12 to 18
                         months.

                         Although EPA is now generally meeting the l-year statutory deadline for
                         responding to ITC, the agency continues to be slow in issuing final test
                         rules. EPA took an average of more than 27 months in completing 12 of
                         the 15 test rules it proposed in response to chemical designations ITC had
                         made since GAO'S 1984 report. It met the 12- to l&month time frame for
                         only 1 of the 12 rules. EPA has not completed the remaining three pro-
                         posed rules; two of these are over 2 years old. In addition, as of Ihi end
                         of fiscal year 1989, EPA still needed to complete four rules that it initi-
                         ated before June 1984.

                         GAO believes that issuing final test rules is as important  as issuing pro-
                         posed rules. Until a final rule is issued, testing does not begin and indus-
                         try does not develop the data needed to determine the health and
                         environmental effects of potentially harmful chemicals. Since EPA has
                         been slow to issue final rules, the health and environmental effects of
                         thousands of chemicals remain unknown. Chemicals that have not yet
                         been tested include aryl phosphates and glycidol and its derivatives,
                         which are suspected of causing cancer or gene mutations or have the
                         potential for widespread environmental and human exposure. These
                         chemicals are used as plasticizers, in hydraulic fluids, in lubricants, or in
                         epoxy glues. While EPA initiated test rules for them in 1983, it still has
                         not issued final rules to begin their testing.


Testing Program Lacks    GAO believes that federal agencies need to establish objectives and strat-
Overall Objectives and   egies for adequate internal control of their programs. Objectives and
                         strategies provide, among other things, focus, direction, and a perspec-
Strategy                 tive on the magnitude of the tasks that a program faces. They also help
                         to identify priorities and resource needs.

                         EPA has established various policies and procedures for implementing
                         the chemical testing program. However, it has not developed overall
                         objectives for the program or a strategy for achieving them. In particu-
                         lar, it has not identified which of the 60,000 chemicals in TSCA’Sinven-
                         tory most likely need testing and which do not. Nor has it identified the



                         Page 4                             GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
Contents


Executive Summary                                                                                     2

Chapter 1                                                                                            8
Introduction            TSCA and Section 4 Chemical Testing Provisions                               8
                        The Chemical Testing Program and Chemical Review                             9
                            Procedures
                        Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                          11

Chapter 2
Insufficient Data and   Status of ITC’s Chemical Recommendations
                        ITC Has Had Difficulties Obtaining Current Production
Poor Member                  and Exposure Data
Participation Impede    Participation by ITC Members Is Poor                                        15
                        Conclusions                                                                 16
ITC’s Progress          Recommendations                                                             16

Chapter 3                                                                                           17
                                                                                                    17
EPA Continues to Be     Status of EPA’s Responses to ITC’s Recommendations
                        EPA Was Initially Slow to Respond to ITC’s                                  18
Slow in Issuing Final        Recommendations and Issue Final Test Rules
Test Rules              EPA Is Generally Meeting l-Year Deadline but Is Still                       19
                             Slow to Issue Final Test Rules
                        Conclusions                                                                 21
                        Recommendation                                                              22

Chapter 4                                                                                           23
                                                                                                    23
Chemical Testing        Importance of Establishing Overall Program Objectives
                            and a Strategy for Achieving Them
Program Lacks Overall   EPA’s Policies and Procedures Do Not Identify Overall                       23
Objectives and a            Program Objectives or Strategy
                        Conclusions                                                                 24
Strategy                Recommendation                                                              25
                        Matters for Consideration by the Congress                                   25

Appendix                Appendix I: Major Contributors to This Report                               26




                        Page 6                           GAO/RCED-99-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
         Contents




Tables   Table 1.1: Steps in ITC’s and EPA’s Chemical Review                          11
              Procedures
         Table 3.1: EPA’s Responses to ITC’s Recommendations                          17
         Table 3.2: EPA’s Initial Responses to Recommendations                        19
             Made After June 1984
         Table 3.3: Length of Time EPA Took to Complete Test                          20
             Rules for Chemicals Recommended Since June 1984

Figure
         Figure 2.1: Number of Chemicals Recommended by ITC                           14




         Abbreviations

         ECAD       Existing Chemical Assessment Division
         EPA        Environmental Protection Agency
         GAO        General Accounting Office
         ITC        Interagency Testing Committee
         ms         Office Of Toxic Substances
         PCBS       polychlorinated biphenyls
         Tsc4       Toxic Substances Control Act


         Page 7                           GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
Chapter 1

Introduction


                     More than 60,000 chemicals are in commerce in the United States.
                     Although laws existed before 1976 to control hazardous chemicals in
                     food, drugs, air, water, and soil, they did not address all chemicals. Con-
                     sequently, chemical substances- such as polychlorinated biphenyls,
                     commonly known as PCBS,and asbestos-went unregulated. PCBSand
                     asbestos have been shown to cause tumors, birth defects, or cancer.

                     Recognizing the need for legislation to address chemicals not covered by
                     existing legislation, the Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control
                     Act (TSCA) in October 1976. One important section of TscA-section 4-
                     authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require chemi-
                     cal manufacturers and processors to test chemicals in commerce that
                     may be harmful. Section 4 also created the Interagency Testing Commit-
                     tee (ITC) to recommend to EPA chemicals that should receive priority
                     attention.


                     The primary purpose of TSCA is to ensure that chemicals in commerce do
TSCA and Section 4   not present an “unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environ-
Chemical Testing     ment.” TSCA authorized EPA to gather and assess information on the
Provisions           effects of chemicals and regulate those found to present unreasonable
                     risks. TKA does not apply to eight product categories that are covered
                     by other laws: pesticides, tobacco, nuclear material, firearms and ammu-
                     nition, food, food additives, drugs, and cosmetics.

                     One of EPA'S initial tasks under TSCA was to compile an inventory of all
                     chemical substances that the nation manufactures, processes, or
                     imports, All chemicals listed in the TSCA inventory are classified as
                     “existing chemicals” or “chemicals in commerce.” All chemicals not
                     listed in the inventory are new chemicals and are subject to premanufac-
                     ture notification requirements established under another section of TWA.
                     (This report does not address new chemicals.) The inventory, first pub-
                     lished in 1979 and periodically updated, contains more than 60,000
                     chemicals in commerce.

                     Section 4 of TXA authorized EPA to require chemical manufacturers and
                     processors to test potentially harmful chemicals in commerce for the
                     purpose of developing data on their health and environmental effects.
                     To require testing, EPA must determine that (1) the chemical may pre-
                     sent an unreasonable risk (e.g., because it is structurally similar to
                     another chemical that is known to be harmful), or it is produced in sub-
                     stantial quantities (e.g., more than 1 million pounds produced annually)
                     and may result in substantial or significant human exposure (e.g., over


                     Page 8                            GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
                       Chapter 1
                       Introduction




                       1,000 individuals) or environmental release; (2) the data are insufficient
                       for determining the chemical’s effects; and (3) testing is necessary to
                       develop adequate data. EPA must notify companies of testing require-
                       ments by publishing test rules in the Federal Register. In issuing a test
                       rule, EPA must specify the chemical to be tested, test standards, and
                       schedules for submission of data.

                       Section 4 also established the Interagency Testing Committee (ITC) and
                       authorized it to semiannually recommend to EPA chemicals that should
                       be given priority consideration for testing. ITC was to consist of repre-
                       sentatives from eight federal entities involved in environmental and
                       health issues: EPA, the Department of Labor, the Council on Environmen-
                       tal Quality, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health,
                       the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National
                       Cancer Institute, the National Science Foundation, and the Department
                       of Commerce. No individual representative may serve as an ITC member
                       for more than 4 years. In identifying chemicals for recommendation, ITC
                       must consider, among other things, production and exposure levels and
                       give priority consideration to those that might cause cancer, gene muta-
                       tions, or birth defects. ITC must report semiannually to EPA and include a
                       list of no more than 50 chemicals designated for testing.

                       Section 4 requires EPA to respond to ITC'S chemical designations within 1
                       year by proposing a test rule or explaining its reasons for not doing so in
                       the Federal Register. It established no time requirements for EPA in issu-
                       ing a final test rule.


                       To implement section 4 of TWA, EPA established the chemical testing pro-
The Chemical Testing   gram shortly after TSCA was enacted. The program encompasses ITC'S
Program and Chemical   and EPA'S chemical review activities.
Review Procedures      To carry out its responsibilities, ITC has developed a chemical review
                       procedure that consists of two major phases: an initial screening and an
                       in-depth review. The purpose of the screening process is to identify
                       chemicals that could be harmful, such as (1) those that are produced in
                       large quantities (e.g., more than 1 million pounds) and thus have the
                       potential for widespread human exposure or environmental release and
                       (2) those that are structurally similar to chemicals already found to be
                       harmful. ITC convenes experts in the fields of toxicology and environ-
                       mental chemistry for this task. Chemicals not identified by the experts
                       are deferred until additional data indicate a need for further review.



                       Page 9                            GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
                                                                           .
Chapter 1
Introduction




In the in-depth review phase, ITC representatives evaluate in detail the
potentially harmful chemicals identified in the initial screening. In addi-
tion to the statutory members, representatives from various agencies
have been invited by ITC to assist it in its in-depth chemical review: the
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Consumer Prod-
uct Safety Commission, the Department of Agriculture, the Department
of Defense, the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service,
the Food and Drug Administration, the National Library of Medicine,
and the National Toxicology Program. These “liaison” members are not
mandated by TKX and therefore cannot vote on which chemicals to rec-
ommend, but they may otherwise fully participate in ITC'S chemical
review.

The statutory and liaison members meet monthly to decide which chemi-
cals are of most concern and should be recommended to EPA. In making
the chemical recommendations, they consider a number of factors, such
as the quantities manufactured, the number of individuals exposed to
the chemical, the extent of environmental release, and the kind of test-
ing that is needed. ITC assumes that the greater the production of a
chemical and level of exposure, the greater the potential for harm. The
members also review available studies on the chemicals under consider-
ation to determine whether they may cause cancer, birth defects, or
gene mutations.

After receiving ITC'S recommendations, EPA reviews the chemicals to
determine whether they meet the criteria set forth under section 4 for
testing. If the criteria are met, EPA decides what test data are needed; if
the criteria cannot be met, EPA makes a decision not to test. According to
the chief of the testing program, in determining what test data are
needed, EPA primarily looks for chemical effects in three areas: (1)
human health, (2) environment, and (3) chemical fate. Testing for
human health effects includes testing for acute and chronic effects, gene
mutations, cancer, birth defects, and neurotoxicity. Environmental test-
ing primarily focuses on the chemical’s effects on aquatic life. Testing
for chemical fate involves assessing the chemical’s characteristics, such
as its ability to be absorbed in water.

Table 1.1 summarizes the basic steps by which ITC and EPA review chem-
icals for testing.




Page 10                           GAO/RCED90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
                                      Chapter 1
                                      Introduction




Table 1.1: Steps in ITC’s and EPA’s
Chemical Review Procedures                                                                                                   _----~
                                      I-K                Reviews available data on chemicals in TSCA’s inventory, including data on
                                                         production and exposure levels and chemical properties to identify a more
                                                         manageable subset of chemicals for in-depth review.

                                                         Reviews in depth chemicals of concern
                                                         Recommends chemicals for priority testing in a report to EPA.
                                      EPA                Receives and publishes ITC’s report and issues notices to industry to
                                                         submit information, such as available health and safety studies, on the
                                                         chemicals recommended.
                                                         Invites and responds to public comments on ITC’s recommendations              and
                                                         holds public meetings.
                                                         Reviews information submitted by industry and the public and decides
                                                         whether to test.
                                                         Issues proposed test rule and responds to public and industry comments
                                                         Issues final test rule.a
                                      “In a few cases, when EPA reached a consensus among affected chemical manufacturers and/or pro-
                                      cessors and interested parties on the required testing, EPA issued a consent agreement instead of a
                                      test rule because it believed this approach used fewer resources, took less time, and obtained test data
                                      sooner than a test rule. However, according to the chief of the chemical testing program, for the most
                                      part, EPA has proceeded with rulemaking because of difficulties in getting agreement from all parties.


                                      Companies generally take about 2 to 5 years to complete the testing. EPA
                                      officials then assess the data and make a final decision about the chemi-
                                      cal’s disposition. They may decide, for example, to forward it to another
                                      TSCAprogram for further review and possible regulation, or they may
                                      decide to take no further action.


                                      On August 8, 1988, the Chairman, Subcommittee on Environment,
Objectives, Scope,and                 Energy, and Natural Resources, House Committee on Government Oper-
Methodology                           ations, requested GAO to assist the Subcommittee in its comprehensive
                                      review of EPA'S implementation of TSCA. As agreed with the Chairman’s
                                      office, we evaluated the chemical testing program, focusing on ITC'S
                                      efforts in making recommendations and EPA'S efforts in responding to
                                      ITC'S recommendations. We determined whether ITC'S and EPA'S policies
                                      and criteria are consistent with section 4 provisions; whether ITC and
                                      EPA are following their policies and criteria as prescribed; what the sta-
                                      tus of the chemical testing program is; and whether any problems ham-
                                      per the program’s progress and what can be done to solve them.

                                      To determine whether ITC'S and EPA'S policies and criteria are consistent
                                      with section 4 provisions, we reviewed relevant Federal Register notices,



                                      Page   11                                      GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
Chapter 1
Introduction




policy pamphlets, and procedural manuals; ITC’S chemical recommenda-
tion reports; EPA’S annual TSCA reports; and other pertinent information.
We discussed ITC’S and EPA’S policies and criteria with ITC members, EPA
officials,2 and EPA’S legal counsel involved with TSCA. Furthermore, we
compared the prescribed policies and criteria with the provisions in sec-
tion 4.

To determine whether ITC and EPA are following their prescribed policies
and criteria, we examined ITC’S and EPA’S chemical review procedures.
We also discussed with ITC members and EPA officials their views on the
procedures for implementing section 4 requirements.

To determine the status of the chemical testing program, we identified
the number of chemicals ITC recommended, the number of recommenda-
tions EPA responded to, the number of chemicals EPA issued test rules for,
and the number it decided not to test. We also identified the results of
the program, such as the number of chemicals for which test data have
been received and the number of final decisions EPA has made on those
chemicals. However, we did not determine the validity of EPA’S decisions
to test or not test.

To determine whether any problems hamper the program’s progress and
what can be done to solve them, we assessed the adequacy of the data
ITC and EPA use, their criteria for reviewing chemicals, and their objec-
tives and strategies for implementing the chemical testing program. We
also obtained views about the program from ITC members, EPA officials,
the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Chemical Manufacturers
Association to identify any concerns they might have.

We conducted our work between May and November of 1989 in accord-
ance with generally accepted government auditing standards. We dis-
cussed with EPA officials the factual information in the report. However,
as requested by the Chairman, Subcommittee on Environment, Energy,
and Natural Resources, House Committee on Government Operations, we
did not obtain written agency comments on a draft of this report.




“The EPAofficials we talked to included thosein the Office of Toxic Substances((IIS) under the
Assistant Administrator for Pesticidesand Toxic Substances,which is responsiblefor implementing
all TSCAprovisions;the Existing ChemicalAssessmentDivision @CAD)under Cl’& which is respon-
sible for addressingexisting chemicalsunder TSCA;and the Test RulesDevelopmentBranch under
EXXD,which has the lead responsibility for the chemicaltesting program.



Page 12                                    GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
Chapter 2

Insufficient Data and Poor Member
Participation Impede ITC’s Progress

---
                  To recommend chemicals to EPA for testing, ITC needs data on their pro-
                  duction and exposure levels. In addition to being legislatively required
                  to consider such data, ITC needs the information to determine the chemi-
                  cals’ potential harm to humans and the environment and to determine
                  whether the chemicals should be given priority for testing. Since T%X
                  was enacted, however, ITC has had problems obtaining current produc-
                  tion and exposure data. According to ITC’S executive secretary, these
                  problems have impeded ITC’S progress in recommending chemicals.

                  ITC also suffers from poor member participation.ITC members are
                  needed at monthly meetings to review chemicals, provide valuable input
                  on chemicals under consideration, and vote on which chemicals should
                  be recommended for testing. We found that the average rate of attend-
                  ance at ITC’S monthly meetings held between January 1986 and April
                  1989 was about 61 percent. This poor attendance may have further
                  slowed the chemical review process and limited the number of chemical
                  recommendations ITC could make.


                  Since October 1977, when ITC issued its first report to EPA, ITC has recom-
Status of ITC’s   mended 386 chemicals for testing.’ This represents an average of
Chemical          approximately 32 chemicals recommended per year and less than 1 per-
Recommendations   cent of the more than 60,000 chemicals in EXA’S inventory. As figure 2.1
                  illustrates, most of the chemicals were recommended in the first 4 years.




                  ‘In this report, we usethe term “ITC recommendations”to refer to chemicalsITC designatesfor an
                  EPAresponsewithin 1 year.



                  Page 13                                    GAO/RCED-SO-112
                                                                           EPA’sChemical Testing Program
                                                    Chapter 2
                                                    Insufficient Data and Poor Member
                                                    Participation Impede WC’s Progress




Figure 2.1: Number of Chemicals Recommended by ITC
299   Number     of chomlcalo   ncommonded

160




      1sn          1978                      1981     1982      1983     1984      1985      1986       1987    19ea    1989
      Calendar    year

                                                    Note: Data obtained as of the end of fiscal year 1989.

                                                    After 1980, the number of chemical recommendations dropped signifi-
                                                    cantly because, in general, ITC stopped recommending categories of
                                                    chemicals. EPA informed ITC in 1982 that it could not count categories as
                                                    one recommendation, since they often contained large numbers of chem-
                                                    icals and thus could circumvent the statutory 50-chemical limit. How-
                                                    ever, the number of recommendations may also have dropped after 1980
                                                    because ITC had difficulty obtaining production and exposure data.


                                                    ITC has had to use outdated production data because of problems in
ITC Has Had                                         obtaining current data. Before 1979, ITC was able to obtain only limited
Difficulties Obtaining                              production data on chemicals from whatever existing chemical data-
Current Production                                  bases were available because complete data for the more than 60,000
                                                    chemicals in the TSCA inventory did not exist. In 1979, EPA issued its first
and Exposure Data                                   mu inventory, which included production data that ITC subsequently
                                                    used. However, ITC found that production levels for a number of chemi-
                                                    cals had changed significantly since the data were obtained; conse-
                                                    quently, it could not rely on the 1979 inventory data. EPA has since
                            ”                       updated the TSCA inventory data, but according to an EPA official respon-
                                                    sible for the inventory, the update was limited to data on chemicals pro-
                                                    duced in 1985.


                                                    Page 14                                         GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
   C




                       Chapter 2
                       Insufficient Data and Poor Member
                       Participation Impede ITC’e Progress




                       In addition, ITC has had difficulty obtaining adequate exposure data. In
                       general, such data are not readily available from chemical manufactur-
                       ers and processors unless specifically requested. In 1980, EPA and ITC
                       identified 2,226 chemicals that they believed might be harmful. To help
                       ITC obtain current exposure data for its in-depth review, EPA proposed a
                       rule under section 8 of TSCA requiring chemical manufacturers to submit
                       this information. (Section 8 authorizes EPA to require manufacturers and
                       processors to maintain records and submit any information EPA needs to
                       effectively enforce the act.) However, in the final rule, issued under sec-
                       tion 8 in 1982, EPA required data for only 250 chemicals. EPA reduced the
                       number, in part, because of the reporting burden on industry.

                       According to ITC’s executive secretary, because ITC was limited by the
                       reduced number of chemicals covered in the final rule, it chose to obtain
                       additional needed information on its own by researching whatever was
                       available in published literature. In this way, ITC obtained data on an
                       additional 250 chemicals. However, as of the end of our audit work in
                       November 1989, ITC still did not have exposure information for more
                       than 1,700 chemicals. According to one former ITC representative, all
                       1,700 chemicals still need to be reviewed and need exposure data.

                       According to the ITC chairman, the lack of current production and expo-
                       sure data has prevented ITC from making more recommendations in
                       recent years. He believes this continues to be a problem.


                       In addition to having data problems, ITC has problems with member par-
Participation by ITC   ticipation. As stated in chapter 1, ITC consists of representatives from
Members Is Poor        eight federal entities involved in environmental and health issues and
                       liaison representatives from another eight agencies, who, at ITC’S invita-
                       tion, assist in the in-depth chemical reviews. ITC relies on both its statu-
                       tory members and its liaison members to review potentially harmful
                       chemicals identified through the screening process and to provide valu-
                       able input at ITC’S monthly meetings, where chemicals are discussed and
                       statutory members vote on which chemicals to recommend to EPA.

                       Between January 1986 and April 1989, attendance by statutory mem-
                       bers at ITC’S monthly meetings averaged about 61 percent. Attendance
                       by liaison members averaged even less-54 percent. We found that
                       reviews of chemicals had to be postponed several times because mem-
                       bers were not present to provide the needed input. According to a for-
                       mer ITC executive secretary, attendance at the monthly meetings has
                       been a problem because ITC representatives have other responsibilities.


                       Page 16                               GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
                  Chapter 2
                  Insufficient Data and Poor Member
                  Participation Impede ITC’s Progress




                  ITC’s review of chemicals has been hampered by the lack of current pro-
Conclusions       duction data. In addition, although EPA has obtained some data for ITC
                  under a section 8 rule, ITC still lacks exposure data for approximately
                  1,700 chemicals that were identified as early as 1980 as chemicals of
                  concern. ITC’S executive secretary believes that the lack of current pro-
                  duction and exposure data has impeded ITC’S progress in reviewing
                  chemicals.

                  The lack of a full commitment from ITC members may have further
                  slowed ITC’S chemical review process and limited the number of chemical
                  recommendations ITC could make. We believe that since EPA is ultimately
                  responsible for implementing the chemical testing program and since the
                  program’s success depends, in part, on ITC’S member participation, EPA
                  needs to work with ITCto improve its member participation and, thus,
                  the progress of the chemical testing program.


                  We recommend that the Administrator of EPA exercise EPA’S data-gather-
Recommendations   ing authority on ITC’S behalf under section 8 of TSCA to obtain the data
                  that ITC needs to make recommendations. This can be done in phases so
                  that industry is not overburdened. We also recommend that the Admin-
                  istrator work with ITC to improve its member participation,




                  Page 16                               GAO/RCED60-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
Chapter 3

EPA Continues to Be Slow in Issuing Final
Test Rules

                                      As we reported in June 1984, EPA was initially slow in responding to
                                      ITC’S recommendations and issuing final test rules, and we recommended
                                      that EPA make test rules final within a reasonable time, such as 12 to 18
                                      months.’ Since our 1984 report, EPA has continued to be slow in issuing
                                      final test rules, taking an average of more than 2 years. The delays may
                                      have been partly due to recent high staff turnover. More significantly,
                                      though, EPA is concentrating its efforts on issuing proposed rules, rather
                                      than final rules, to ensure that the agency is responding to ITC’S recom-
                                      mendations within the l-year statutory deadline. Until a final test rule
                                      is issued, testing does not begin and industry is not developing the data
                                      needed to determine the health and environmental effects of potentially
                                      harmful chemicals. These delays, if not corrected, will continue to limit
                                      EPA’s progress in implementing the testing program.



                                           has responded to all of ITC’S chemical designations. As of the end of
Status of EPA’s                       EPA
                                      fiscal year 1989, ITC had recommended 386 chemicals. EPA required test-
Responsesto ITC’s                     ing for approximately 39 percent of the 386 recommended chemicals,
Recommendations                       made preliminary decisions to test about 36 percent, and decided not to
                                      test about 25 percent (see table 3.1). EPA decided not to test 98 chemicals
                                      (all of which were recommended before December 1984) for a combina-
                                      tion of reasons: they were already being tested by the National Toxicol-
                                      ogy Program, the National Cancer Institute, or industry; their
                                      production or exposure levels were limited; and/or adequate data
                                      already existed to characterize their health and environmental effects.

Table 3.1: EPA’s Responses to ITC’s
Recommendations                                                                                             Number of
                                      EPA’s response                         ..___-                         chemicals          Percent of total
                                      Testing    required                                                           151”                        39
                                                                                                                  ___._____                     ~.~~
                                      Preliminary      decision to require testing                                  137                         36--
                                                       ~_..____...   -___--                       __---                              __--..
                                      Decision      not to require testing                                            98--------__             25
                                      Total                                                                         388                       100
                                      “For several chemicals or categories of chemicals, EPA made multiple decisions, requiring certain types
                                      of testing but not others or testing of a few but not all chemicals in a category. For the purposes of this
                                      report, we counted a multiple decision as one decision in favor of testing for the chemical or the entire
                                      category of chemicals.




                                      ‘EPA’sEfforts to Identify and Control Harmful Chemicalsin Use(GAO/RCED-84-100,June 13,
                                      1984).



                                      Page 17                                          GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
                         Chapter 3
                         EPA ContInuea to Be Slow in Issuing Final
                         Test Rules




                         As we reported in June 1984, the chemical testing program had a slow
EPA Was Initially        start. EPA did not respond to any of ITC'S recommendations until 1980,
Slow to Respond to       more than 2 years after ITC began making recommendations. As a result,
ITC’s                    the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the agency for failure to
                         respond within the l-year statutory deadline. The outcome of the suit
Recommendations and      was a court order in January 1981 putting EPA on a 3-year schedule to
Issue Final Test Rules   respond to ITC'S recommendations. By the end of calendar year 1983, EPA
                         had responded to the backlog of more than 300 chemicals and had begun
                         to respond within the statutory l-year deadline to new
                         recommendations.

                         As we also noted in the 1984 report, EPA had not at that time issued any
                         final rules requiring manufacturers or processors to test chemicals. This
                         was over 6 years after ITC had recommended its first chemical for test-
                         ing and over 3 years after EPA had proposed its first test rule. According
                         to the Chief of the Test Rules Development Branch at that time, the pri-
                         mary reason for the delays was that resources were shifted to meet the
                         January 1981 court-ordered schedule and personnel were not available
                         to carry out the tasks of completing proposed test rules. Such tasks
                         included obtaining and addressing public comments, reviewing addi-
                         tional data EPA received after announcing a proposed rule, and making
                         appropriate changes to the proposed rule. The Branch Chief also told us
                         that issuing a final rule was fairly simple and that 12 to 18 months was
                         a reasonable amount of time to make a test rule final. Accordingly, we
                         recommended that EPA complete test rules within a reasonable time,
                         such as 12 to 18 months.




                         Page 18                                     GAO/RCED-90-112EPA'sChemicalTestingProgram
     C




                                        Chapter 3
                                        EPA Continues to Be Slow in Issuing Find
                                        Test Rules




                                        EPA is now generally meeting the l-year statutory deadline. Since our
EPA Is Generally                        June 1984 report, ITC designated 19 chemicals for testing. EPA generally
Meeting l-Year                          met the l-year requirement for all but one, for which EPA took about 13
Deadline but Is Still                   months to respond (see table 3.2).
Slow to Issue Final
Test Rules
Table 3.2: EPA’s Initial Responses to
Recommendations Made After June         Ctw&cal     recommended by                      Date        Date of EPA’s     Elapsed time
1994                                                                            recommended             response             (days)
                                        Anthraquinone
                                        _.....-.-___                                 11/29/84            11/06/85                   342
                                        2-Chloro-1,3-butadiene                       11/29/84            00/26/85                   270
                                        Cumene
                                        -..                                          u/29/84             11/06/85                   342
                                        Mercaptobenzothiazole                        11/29/84            11/06/85                   342
                                        Octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane
                                        ..-.~~-___                                   u/29/84             10/30/85                   335
                                        Pentabromoethylbenzene ..~____~_             i i 129184          u/13/85            ___-.-~ 349
                                        Sodium N-methyl-N-
                                            oleoyltaurine
                                        __--~                                        i i 129184          11/06/85                -.-342
                                        Methylcyclopentane                           05/21/85            05/15/86                   359
                                        Tetrabromobisphenol A                        05/21/85            05/15/86        -359
                                        Trie;e;ene glycol monomethyl
                                                                                     05121 I85
                                                                                       I   a
                                                                                                         05/15/86
                                                                                                           I   I
                                                                                                                                   359
                                        Triethylene glycol monoethyl
                                            ether
                                        -.-.--                                       05/21/85            05/l 5186                 359
                                        Triethylene glycol monobutyl
                                            ether
                                          ____--___                                  05/21/85            05/15/86                  359
                                        Cyclohexane                                  05/l 9186           05/20/87                  366
                                        2,6-Di-tert-butyl
                                        ----                   phenol                05/19/86            06/25/87       -          402
                                        Tributyl phosphate                           11/14/86            11t~2187                  363
                                        lsopropanol                   _____--        05/20/87            03/16/88                  301
                                        Methyl tert-butyl-____-ether                 05/20/87            03/31/88                  316
                                        1,6-Hexamethylene
                                            diisocyanate
                                             .-.-. ___-..__.-..-                     05/20/88            05117189                  362
                                        Crotonaldehyde                               1 l/16/88           11/09/89                  358


                                        However, EPA continues to take an average of more than 2 years to com-
                                        plete its test rules. For the 19 chemicals ITC designated for testing since
                                        June 1984, EPA issued 15 proposed rules2 EPA took an average of more
                                        than 27 months to complete 12 of these 15 test rules and met the 12- to
                                        l&month time frame for only 1 of the 12 rules (see table 3.3). EPA has

                                        “EPA decidednot to test two of the remainingfour chemicalsrecommended(Z-chloro-1,3-butadiene
                                        and sodiumN-methyl-N-oleoyltaurine)and proceededwith consentagreementsfor the other two
                                        (methyl tert-butyl ether and crotonaldehyde).



                                        Page 19                                     GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
--   __-..-.   l..l...l   .   _.l_l.   “.“I.   .I.I   .       ..-   II_   ..-   “.---.”




                                                                                          Chapter 3
                                                                                          EPA Continues to Be Slow in Issuing Final
                                                                                          Test Rules




                                                                                          not completed the remaining three proposed rules; two of these are over
                                                                                          2 years old.

Table 3.3: Length of Time EPA Took to
Complete Test Rules for Chemicals                                                         Cl$ical     recommended by            Date of proposed                     Date of                     Elapsed time
Recommended Since June 1984                                                                                                                   rule                completion                         (months)
                                                                                          Anthraquinone                                     11/06/85                       06/04/87                         18+
                                                                                          Cumene                                            11/06/85                       07127188                         32+
                                                                                          Mercaptobenzothiazole
                                                                                          -_.____-.-                                        11/06/85                       09/07/88                         34+
                                                                                          Octamethvlcvclotetrasiloxane                      1O/30/85                       01/10/89a                        38+
                                                                                          Pentabromoethylbenzene
                                                                                           _____
                                                                                               - ..___. -- -... .--                         11113185      __--             I I /22/88b                      36-k
                                                                                          Methylcyclopentane                                05/l 5186                      02/05/88                         20+
                                                                                          Tetrabromobisphenol A ..-.____                    05/15/86                       07/06/87                         13+
                                                                                          Trie;e;ene glycol monomethyl
                                                                                                           -~-~ --___.          ~-          05/l 5186                 04/03/89”
                                                                                                                                                              __-______                                     34+
                                                                                          Trieielene glycol monoethyl
                                                                                                                                            05/l 5186                      04/03/89c                        34+
                                                                                          Triethylene glycol monobutyl
                                                                                             ether                                          05/l 5186                      04/03/89c                        34+
                                                                                                                                                                                       d
                                                                                          kyclohexane                                       05/20/87
                                                                                                                                                                                       d
                                                                                          2,6-Di-tert-butylphenol -~    ----
                                                                                                                                            06/25/87    ~~~        _---.         .__       -... -~~~   ~~~~~ ..__~
                                                                                          Tributyl phosphate ~~      ~~~._____~.- -__...    11112187                       08/l 4189                        21+
                                                                                          lsopropanol          ~~- ~~-~____~ _ __--         03/l 6188    -.-_____          I 0123189                        19+
                                                                                          1,6-Hexamethylene
                                                                                                                                                                                       d
                                                                                             diisocyanate                                   05/17/89
                                                                                          “EPA reached a consent agreement for this chemical
                                                                                          “EPA withdrew the proposed rule for this chemical because it was undergoing review under the “signlfi-
                                                                                          cant new use rule” for new chemicals. EPA proposed this new use rule in 1987 as a follow-up tool to
                                                                                          require manufacturers of existing chemicals that have a significant new use, such as substantially
                                                                                          increased production, to comply with TSCA’s premanufacture notice requirements.
                                                                                          ‘EPA decided on a combination of consent agreement and final rule for these three chemicals

                                                                                          “EPA had not completed rules for these chemicals as of the end of our audit work


                                                                                          Furthermore, as of the end of fiscal year 1989, EPA still needed to com-
                                                                                          plete four rules that it had initiated before June 1984. These rules were
                                                                                          for the following chemicals or groups of chemicals: aryl phosphates,
                                                                                          glycidol and its derivatives, phenylenediamines,:3 and methylolurea.

                                                                                          Because EPA was initially slow to respond to ITC’S recommendations and
                                                                                          continues to be slow in issuing final test rules, it did not issue its first
                                                                                          final test rules until December 1985, more than 8 years after ITC began
                                                                                          making recommendations and 9 years after TSCA was enacted. Since it
                                                          Y




                                                                                          “WA issueda final test rule for phenylenediaminesin November1989.



                                                                                          Page 20                                          GAO/RCED-SO-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
  .

                  Chapter3
                  EPA Continues to Be Slow ln Issuing Final
                  Test Rules




                  takes about 2 to 5 years to develop test data, EPA did not begin receiving
                  complete test data until May 1988. According to EPA officials, as of the
                  end of fiscal year 1989, EPA had received complete test data for only six
                  chemicals and had not finished assessing any of them for possible fur-
                  ther action,

                  According to the Chief of the Test Rules Development Branch at the
                  time of our review, EPA has continued to be slow in issuing final test
                  rules because of recent high staff turnover. He stated that in fiscal year
                  1988,6 of the Branch’s 20 professional staff members, or 30 percent,
                  left the testing program; in fiscal year 1989,8 additional members, or 40
                  percent, left. As a result, the completion of rules had to be postponed
                  until experienced staff members were available to work on them. The
                  Branch Chief acknowledged that under normal circumstances 12 to 18
                  months would be a reasonable time for making a proposed test rule
                  final.

                  Also, the Branch Chief noted that EPA is placing a high priority on issu-
                  ing proposed rules, rather than final rules, to ensure that it is respond-
                  ing to ITC'S recommendations within the l-year statutory deadline.
                  However, we believe that issuing final test rules is as important as issu-
                  ing proposed rules. Until a final rule is issued, testing does not begin and
                  the data needed to determine the health and environmental effects of
                  potentially harmful chemicals are not being developed. Because EPA is
                  slow to issue test rules, the health and environmental effects of
                  thousands of chemicals remain unknown. For example, aryl phosphates
                  and glycidol and its derivatives still have not been tested. Aryl
                  phosphates (used as plasticizers, in hydraulic fluids, and in lubricants)
                  are produced in quantities exceeding millions of pounds per year and
                  have the potential for substantial human exposure and environmental
                  release. Glycidol and its derivatives (used in epoxy glues) are produced
                  in quantities exceeding 1,000 pounds per year and have exposure esti-
                  mates of over 100,000 workers; they are suspected of causing cancer
                  and gene mutations. ITC recommended aryl phosphates and glycidol and
                  its derivatives for testing more than 10 years ago. EPA initiated test rules
                  for these chemicals in 1983, but has still not issued final rules.


                      was initially slow to implement the chemical testing program. It did
Conclusions   ”
                  EPA
                  not finish addressing the backlog of ITc-recommended chemicals and
                  begin meeting the l-year statutory deadline for responding to ITC'S rec-
                  ommendations until the end of calendar year 1983. Although EPA is now
                  generally meeting the l-year statutory deadline for responding to ITC'S


                  Page 2 1                                    GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
                 Chapter 3
                 EPA Continues to J3eSlow in Issuing Final
                 Test Rules




                 recommendations, it continues to be slow in issuing final test rules. GAO
                 recommended in 1984 that EPA issue a test rule within 12 to 18 months
                 after proposing it; however, since then, the agency has continued to take
                 an average of more than 2 years to make its proposed rules final and
                 has still not made final some test rules it initiated before 1984.

                 While EPA blames high staff turnover for this problem, it is also placing
                 a higher priority on issuing proposed test rules than on issuing final
                 rules. By doing so, EPA continues to be slow to begin the testing needed
                 to determine the health and environmental effects of potentially harm-
                 ful chemicals.


Recommendation   issuing final test rules by ensuring that adequate staff resources are
                 devoted to completing test rules within a reasonable time, such as the
                 12- to 18-month time frame we recommended in 1984.




                 Page 22                                     GAO/RCED-SO-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
Chabter 4

Chemical Testing Program Lacks Overall
Objectives and a Strategy

                        GAO  believes that objectives and strategies are needed for adequate
                        internal control of federal programs. Although EPA has established vari-
                        ous policies and procedures for implementing the chemical testing pro-
                        gram, it has not established any overall objectives or a strategy for
                        achieving those objectives. In particular, it has not identified the uni-
                        verse of chemicals that it needs to address or the pace at which it plans
                        to address these chemicals. Without these matters defined, EPA officials
                        are unclear about the chemical testing program’s direction and
                        priorities.


                        Overall objectives and a strategy for achieving them are key elements in
Importance of           any federal program. They provide focus and direction and help estab-
Establishing Overall    lish priorities. In addition, they provide the agency a perspective on the
Program Objectives      magnitude of the tasks it faces and help identify resource needs. They
                        can also provide timing for expected results and benchmarks for mea-
and a Strategy for      suring program performance. Furthermore, specified objectives and a
Achieving Them          strategy can provide the Congress with a sense of what can be achieved
                        with the level of resources committed.

                        In GAO'S Standards for Internal Controls in the Federal Government, we
                        pointed out the importance of having objectives and strategies. The
                        report presents the Comptroller General’s internal control standards,
                        which executive agencies are to follow in establishing and maintaining
                        systems of internal control, as required by the Federal Managers’ Finan-
                        cial Integrity Act of 1982. Internal controls are the combination of poli-
                        cies and procedures managers use to help ensure that their agencies,
                        programs, or functions are effective and efficient. The report specifi-
                        cally identifies objectives and strategies as internal control standards.


                        In implementing the chemical testing program, EPA has developed vari-
EPA’s Policies and      ous policies and procedures that basically reiterate and further define
Procedures Do Not       the requirements cited in section 4 of TSCA. For example, in 1980 EPA
Identify Overall        issued a proposed statement of policy and procedures for implementing
                        the testing program. It stated that "EPA has two primary objectives: (1)
Program Objectives or   to require testing of selected high priority chemicals to determine relia-
Strategy                bly whether or not such substances pose an unreasonable risk to health
                        or the environment; and (2) to make such testing requirements as effi-
                        cient and cost effective as possible.”

                        In implementing the testing program, EPA also developed the Project
                        Managers Handbook. This handbook describes the project manager’s


                        Page 23                           GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
              Chapter 4
              Chemical Testing Program Lacks Overall
              Objectives and a Strategy




              role in EPA'S test-rulemaking process. For example, it supplies specific
              language that project managers should use in the Federal Register
              notices and illustrates how to assess the adequacy of chemical studies in
              determining whether a test rule should be issued.

              However, EPA'S policies and procedures do not identify overall objectives
              for the chemical testing program. Such objectives would define the uni-
              verse of chemicals EPA needs to address (i.e., the portion of the 60,000
              chemicals in TSCA’S inventory that most likely need testing and those
              that do not) and the pace at which EPA plans to address these chemicals.

              According to the Chief of the Test Rules Development Branch at the
              time of our review, EPA has essentially relied on ITC to identify chemicals
              for testing and has not developed a program plan that identifies the pro-
              gram’s overall objectives and a strategy for achieving them. The Branch
              Chief responded that to do so would draw staff away from the develop-
              ment of test rules.

              Without overall objectives and a strategy defined, EPA officials are
              unclear about the direction and priorities of the chemical testing pro-
              gram. Officials are uncertain about whether the testing program’s goal is
              to gather a little information on as many chemicals as possible or to
              require more extensive testing for a few chemicals more highly sus-
              pected of posing an unreasonable risk.

              In a 1988 draft report entitled Existing Chemical Review Program: Oper-
              ations Manual, EPA identified its own lack of clear direction in its overall
              review of existing chemicals under TSCA, which includes the chemical
              testing program. The draft report discussed the differences among staff
              and management about the goals of EPA'S chemical review efforts. The
              potential goals suggested were: (1) gather and compile chemical data, (2)
              develop chemical information management and dispersion systems, (3)
              identify chemicals that need to be regulated, and (4) reduce the risk of
              chemicals through all available mechanisms. The report stated that the
              absence of explicit written documentation concerning such matters as
              program direction has contributed significantly to the lack of productiv-
              ity and misdirection of EPA'S overall review of existing chemicals.


                   has developed various policies and procedures in implementing the
Conclusions   EPA
              chemical testing program. However, it has not established overall objec-
              tives for the chemical testing program and a strategy for achieving
              those objectives. In particular, EPA has not established the universe of


              Page 24                                  GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
   L




                       Chapter 4
                       Chemical Testing Program Lacks Overall
                       Objectives and a Strategy




                       chemicals that EPA needs to address or the pace at which             EPA   plans to
                       address these chemicals.

                       We believe that EPA needs to establish overall objectives and a strategy
                       for the chemical testing program. They are needed not only to ensure
                       adequate internal control but also to provide clear and consistent direc-
                       tion and priorities for the program staff. Clear direction is important to
                       ensure the most efficient and effective use of staff time, especially when
                       staff turnover is high, as in the chemical testing program.

                       There are still other benefits to having overall program objectives and a
                       strategy. They can provide a perspective on the magnitude of the tasks
                       ahead, timing for expected results, and benchmarks for measuring prog-
                       ress. They can also help identify resource needs.


                       We recommend that the Administrator of EPA develop overall objectives
Recommendation         for the chemical testing program and a strategy for achieving those
                       objectives. These should identify, among other things, the universe of
                       chemicals EPA needs to address and the pace at which it plans to address
                       these chemicals.


                       To ensure that the chemical testing program achieves what the Congress
Matters for            intended, the Congress may want to require EPA to develop a comprehen-
Consideration by the   sive plan setting forth objectives, a strategy, and time frames, and sub-
                       mit the plan to the Congress for approval.
Congress




                       Page 26                                  GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
Appendix I

Major Contributors to This Report


                        Peter F. Guerrero, Associate Director, (202) 262-0600
Resources,              J. Kevin Donohue, Assistant Director
Community, and          Irene P. Chu, Evaluator-in-Charge
                        Peter J. Espada, Evaluator
Economic
Development Division,   Charles T. Ega, Evafuator .
                        Sharon E. Butler, Writer-Editor
Washington, D.C.




             Y




(081(449)               Page 26                          GAO/RCED-90-112 EPA’s Chemical Testing Program
.-..   “-.-f---_-_I_.-__-”   ..-.-   -.“._-ll”_“ll l   -...   _--l--l.-   -___-,.   ~.lll-.---   -l-“.l._   ^-.-_   ,