oversight

Superfund: Duration of the Cleanup Process at Hazardous Waste Sites on the National Priorities List

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-09-24.

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

      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548
                                                                --   .



      Resources, Community, and
      Economic Development Division

      B-277797


      September 24, 1997


      The Honorable Bud Shuster
      Chairman, Committee on Transportation
       and Infrastructure
      House of Representatives

      Subject:   Sunerfund: Duration of the Cleanun Process at
                 Hazardous Waste Sites on the National Priorities List

      Dear Mr. Chairman:

      In congressional testimony in February 1997l and in a March 1997 report,2 we
      discussed the tune that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took to
      complete the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in its Superfund program. We
      said that the cleanup of sites completed in fiscal year 1996 had taken an
      average of 10.6 years. We also said that the length of time to complete
      cleanups at sites had increased over the history of the program. In responding
      to our report, EPA said that our analysis did not reflect recent improvements in
      the Super-fund program, which, it said, were speeding up the pace of cleanups.
      EPA presented data showing that some sites that were recently added to the
      National Priorities List (NPL) had been cleaned up in less time than that for
      earlier sites.3 Moreover, EPA said that it expected that the sites listed in 1993
      through 1996 would be cleaned up in an average of 8 years.


      ‘Superfind: Times to Assess and Clean Up Hazardous Waste Sites Exceed
      Program Goals (GAO/T-RCED-97-69, Feb. 13, 1997). Testimony before the
      Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and
      Regulatory Affairs, House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.
      ?!3uperfund: Times to Complete the Assessment and Cleanup          of Hazardous
      Waste Sites (GAO/RCED-97-20, Mar. 31, 1997).

      3We believe that the completed sites referred to by EPA are too small a segment
      of the recently listed sites to reliably indicate how long the cleanup of recently
      listed sites will take, on average. The great majority of recently listed sites are
      still in the cleanup process.
                                            GAOIRCED-97-238RDuration of Superfund Cleanups

                                  /??~~a
                                                          --   .
B-277797

You asked us to compare EPA’s estimate of future cleanup times with the
program’s historical performance. We did this by calculating, for the sites that
began the cleanup process in fiscal years 1986 through 1994, (1) how long it
took to clean up completed sites and (2) how long the uncompleted sites have
been in the cleanup process.

BACKGROUND

In 1980, the Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response,
Compensation, and Liability Act, known as Super-fund, to clean up highly
contaminated hazardous waste sites. EPA places the sites that qualify for long-
term Superfund cleanup action on the NPL. As of November 1996, 1,205 sites
were on the NPL.

Once listed on the NPL, a Superfund site may be divided into “operable units”
corresponding to different physical areas at the site or different environmental
media (such as soil or groundwater) to be cleaned up. Sites (or operable units,
if a site is subdivided) pass through various processing phases that include
studies of the sites’ risks, the selection and design of cleanup remedies, and the
implementation of the cleanup remedies. This last phase is called “remedial
action.” Some sites may complete remedial action faster than others, and still
others may not reach remedial action at all. The calculation of the duration of
the cleanup process from a site’s listing on the NPL through remedial action is
straightforward for any given site. However, until all sites have completed
remedial action, the average length of time needed to complete remedial action
for the NPL’s entire inventory will be uncertain. EPA has estimated that the
cleanup durations for sites listed in 1993 through 1996 will average 8 years.

RESULTS IN BRIEF

As of July 1, 1997, remedial action had been completed at 13 percent (95) of the
752 sites placed on the National Priorities List* in fiscal years 1986 through
1994. These remedial actions were completed in an average of 6.3 years after
the sites were listed. As of the same date, remedial action had not been
completed at 87 percent (657) of the sites listed in fiscal years 1986 through
1994. These uncompleted sites had been in the cleanup process an average of
8.1 years, that is, they had been listed on the National Priorities List an average
of 8.1 years earlier. Assuming that all remedial actions at these “in process”
sites had been completed on July 1, 1997, the average cleanup duration for all
sites listed on the National Priorities List during the g-year period would have



*At all operable units.
2                                     GAO/RCED-97-238R   Duration   of Superfimd   Cleanups
                                                            --      .

B-277797

been 7.9 years5 almost as long as EPA’s 8-year estimate of the cleanup time for
recently listed sites. But because such a large proportion of the sites listed in
the g-year period are still in process, the average cleanup time for these sites
will exceed 8 years, possibly by a substantial margin. Furthermore, for EPA to
meet its 8-year estimate for cleaning up recently listed sites will require much
faster cleanup times than the program has produced in the past.

CLEANUP ACTMTIES HAVE ALREADY TAKEN ALMOST 8 YEARS

In order to calculate the duration of the Super-fund process-from a site’s listing
on the NPL to its completion of remedial action-for the sites listed in fiscal
years 1986 though 1994, we allocated the sites into two groups according to
their cleanup status as of July 1, 1997. The first group contains those sites
whose entire set of operable units has completed remedial action. For these
sites, we calculated duration from the date of the site’s listing to the date of the
completion of the last remedial action at the site’s operable units.
Approximately 13 percent (95 of 752) of the sites listed in fiscal years 1986
through 1994 were in this group. The second group contains the 87 percent
(657 of 75.2) of the sites listed in fiscal years 1986 through 1994 where not all
operating units have completed remedial action. (See table 1.)




5Represents the weighted average of cleanup times for completed sites and
processing times for uncompleted sites.

3                                     GAOIRCED-97-238R   Duration       of Superfuud   Cleanups
                                                                  --   .
B-277797
Table 1: Averaae Durations for (11 Comoleted Sites From Listina to Comoletion of
Rsmedial Action and (21 Uncomoleted Sites From Listina to Julv 1, 1997. bv Fiscal
Year of Listinq




    1992                 0                                    0
    1993                 0                                   33                  4.7
    1994                 0                                   43                  3.1
    Total                95              6.3                 657                 8.1

aRepresents time from listing on the NPL to the completion    of remedial action at all
operable units.

bRepresents processing time from listing on the NPL to July 1, 1997, for sites where
remedial actions had not been completed at all operable units.




4                                        GAOIRCED-97-238R     Duration     of Superfund   Cleanups
B-277797

For the 95 sites where remedial action has been completed, the average
duration from listing to completion was 6.3 years. These 95 sites contained 115
operable units, all of which have completed remedial action. The 657 sites that
have at least one operable unit that has not completed remedial action had
already been in the Super-fund process for an average of 8.1 years as of July 1,
1997. Combining the weighted average durations for these two groups shows
the average time taken so far on cleanup activities-a combined duration of 7.9
years. Because of the amount of remaining cleanup work, the actual average
cleanup time can only exceed this combined average. For example, only 1 of
the 82 sites listed since fiscal year 1991 has been cleaned up, and 138 of the 170
sites listed in fiscal 1986 have not yet been cleaned up.

SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY

Our analysis was based on data supplied by EPA showing the cleanup status for
all sites listed on the NPL in fiscal years 1986 through 1994. The data came
from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability
Information System-EPA’s primary database for the Super-fund program. These
data showed the sites that had completed remedial action as of July 1, 1997,
and the processing stage of sites where remedial actions had not been
completed. We chose the fiscal year 1986-94 period for our analysis because
the last major legislative changes were made to the program in fiscal 1986 and
because few cleanups would have been completed on the sites listed after fiscal
1994.

We performed our work from June 1997 through September 1997 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards. We did not verify the
accuracy of the data EPA sent to us. However, the database came from EPA’s
Office of Emergency and Remedial Response, which is responsible for
Superfund cleanups.

AGENCY COMMENTS

We provided EPA with copies of a draft of this report for review and comment.
EPA maintains that cleanup time frames are and will be decreasing because
recent policy decisions will shorten the cleanup times for sites that were listed
more recently. EPA noted that our study ended in fiscal year 1994, reflecting
only the frrst year that the current reforms were implemented. EPA expressed
concern that our report does not focus on the recent improvements in the time
taken to clean up Superfund sites in comparison with the time taken to clean
up the sites listed in the early years of the program. EPA also noted that
insufficient time had passed to assess the impact of all of the current program
reforms and that anecdotal information will be the best available data for the
next 3 to 5 years. EPA’s comments appear in enclosure I.

5                                    GAO/RCED-97-238R   Duration   of Superfund   Cleanups
                                                           --   .
B-277797
Our objective was to estimate the cleanup times for all sites listed during the 9-
y&u- period, fiscal years 1986 through 1994, so that we could calculate (1) how
long it took to clean up the completed sites and (2) how long the uncompleted
sites have been in the cleanup process. Ex amining the impact of EPA’s recent
reforms was not within the scope of this review. Regarding EPA’s concern that
our analysis attempts to project future trends, we are not making such
projections; rather, our report presents the minimum average time-8 years-that
it would take for all sites currently in the inventory to be cleaned up.



As arranged with your office, unless you publicly announce its contents earlier,
we plan no further distribution of this report until 15 days after the date of this
letter. At that time, we will send copies to the Administrator of EPA. We will
also make copies available to others on request.

Please call me at (202) 512-6111if you or your staff have any questions about
this’report. Major contributors to this report were Alice Feldesman and
Mitchell Karpman.

Sincerely yours,




Peter F. Guerrero
Director, Environmental
 Protection Issues

Enclosure




                                       GAO/RCED-97-238R   Duration   of Superfund   Cleanups
                                                                                    --   ._
ENCLOSURE I                                                                                         ENCLOSURE I
          COMMENTS FROM THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

                        UNITED   STATESENVIRONMENTAL
                                                   PROTECTION
                                                            AGENCY
                                        WASHINGTON. D.C. 20460




                                                                                               OFFICE OF
                                                                                     SOLID WASTE AND EMERGENCY
                                                                                              RESPONSE


    PeterF. Guerrero
    Director
    Environmental Protection Issues
    U. S General Accounting Office
    Washington,DC 20548

    Dear Mr. Guetrero:

           Thank you for the opportunity to review and commenton the Draft Report entitled
    “Superfund: Duration of the CleanupProcessat HazardousWaste Sites on the National Priorities
    List (GAO/ RCED-97-238R) and the Draft Fact Sheet“EPA’s Fiscal Year 1998 SuperfUnd
    Budget.” This letter formally transmits our commentson thesedraft documents.

             EPA has shown improvementsin the time requiredto cleanup Superfund sites as reflected
    in the fact that more siteshave beencompletedin the past four yearsthan were completed in the
    first twelve years of the program. Our reform efforts havebeenkey to this success. However, as
    demonstratedin our attachedcomments,we are concernedthat not enough time has passedto see
    the results of all of our reforms in a statisticaily significantway in terms of averagetime savingsor
    cost. However, we feel the anecdotalresults demonstratedin the FY 1996 Superfund
    Administrative Reforms &ual Report are good measuresof the successof our reform efforts.
    In addition, we have provided a chart which demonstratesa trend toward reduced durations. We
    feel this is an analysiswhich appropriately depictsprogrammatictrends.

            EPA’s discussionswith GAO on the FY 1998President’sBudget request took place
    during the sametime period that significant datagathering for severalCongressionaloffices was
    underway. Our projection methodsestimatedan incrementalneedof approximately $650 million
    in FY 1998 to addressthe site backlog and acceleratecleanupin the Superfund program. The
    results of our more current site-by-site anaiysii’have demonstratedthat our budget projections
    were sound and validated our needfor the incrementalfunding. It is my understanding that your
    office has received this updated site specific information which supersedesthe resource estimates
    madeover a year ago and which should be the foundation for validating our FY 1998 budget
    request.

         Again we thank you for the opportunity to review these draft documents and hope our
    commentswill be strongly consideredas the report and fact sheetare finalized. Should you have



7                                                          GAO/RCED-97-238B       Duration    of Superfund       Cleanups
                                                                            --   ._
ENCLOSURE I                                                                               ENCLOSURE I




                                              -2-

      any questionsor concernsregardingthesecomments,pleasecontact Robin Richardsonat
     (703)603-8912.

                                          q&b.               L+$

                                             StephenD. Luftig
                                             Director
                                             Office of Emergencyand RemedialResponse

     Enclosures

     cc:   Timothy Fields, Jr.
           StevenA. Herman
           SallyanneHarper
           Cliff Rothenstein
           Barry Breen
           SteveTiber




 8                                                     GAOIRCED-97-238R     Duration    of Superfund   Cleanups
                                                                                              --   .

ENCLOSURE1                                                                                                  ENCLOSURE1

                                                   U.S. EPA Comment%
      Sum&mm            DURATION OF THE CLEANUP PROCESS AT B~AZARDOUS WASTE SITES ON THE
                   NATIONAL FRIOEUTIESLIST (GAOIRCED-97-238R, Job Code 140398)

            EPA estimatesthat cleanuptimeframesare and will be decreasingas more sites are
    cleanedup under the administrative reforms. However, the draft GAO report suggeststhat the
    time necessaryto complete site cleanupwill exceedcurrent EPA projections. GAO’s study ends
    in the 1994 fiscal year, reflecting only the first year of the current reforms implementation.Our
    commentsto GAO’s previous (March 1997) noted that insufficient time had passedto seeall of
    the quantifiable and statisticahy significantchangesin durations attributable to the three rounds of
    administrative reforms. EPA remainsconcernedwith the draft findings in the current report
    because,lacking this durations data, it is not possibleto adequatelyvalidate the impactsof all of
    the very important improvementsin the Super-fundcleanup process. Anecdotal information will
    be the bestavailable data for the next 3-5 years. Our concernsarise becausethis analysisattempts
    to project future trends basedon a universeof data which highlights earlier decisionprocesses.

            EPA recommendsutiliing the programguidanceon durations cited by GAO in the March
    report on durations and reviewing individual pipeline milestonedurations basedon the statt date
    of the activity in order to reflect the policies in place at the time the activity began. Below is a
    chart which displays the individual milestonedurations for eachdiscrete pipeline activity,
    demonstratingprogram trends in more detail than the current GAO report. Again, basedon these
    individual cleanup event durations, EPA estimatesthat cleanuptimeframesare and will be
    decreasing as more sitesare cleanedup under the administrative reforms.

               ,                                      Superfund
               I                Shorter Remedial   Clean-up   Projects at Superfund   Sites
               T    Dursrronr   "   r




            The truest current measuresof durationssuccesscan be seenin the site-specificexamples
    presentedin the FY 1996 Supetfimd Administrative Reforms Annual Report. Additionally, the
    SuperfLnd Reforms Project report displaysthe reductions in time and cost which have been
    realized through the reforms. Thesereports show real reductions in the time to achievecleanupat
    many Superfund sites.


(160398)

9                                                                      GAOIRCED-97-238R       Duration   of Superfund   Cleanups
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PRINTED ON a@          RECYCLED   PAPER
ENCLOSURE                                                                    ENCLOSURE


 11-153 Safe Streets Anti-Prostitution Legislative    ~November 9, 1995
 Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 11-154 Budget Support Legislative Review              November 9, 1995
 Emergency Act of 1995
 11-161 Establishment of the John A. Wilson            November 27, 1995
 Build& Foundation Emergency Act of 1995
 11-162 Acquisition of Space Needs For District       ~November 27; 1995
 Governmeut Officers and Employees Emergency
 Amendment Act of 1995
 11-167 Department of Corrections Employee             November 28, 1995
 Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Testing Emergency
 Act of 1995
 Total                                                ~76




(901694)



                               GAO/AIMD-96-45R       Information on Emergency Legislation

                                            18
.ENCLOSURE                                                                   ENCLOSURE


  .l-125 Council Contract Approval Emergency            July 28, 1995
  hnendment Act of 1995
  .l-133 Safe Streets Anti-Prostitution   Emergency     August 11, 1995
  hnendment Act of 1995
  U-137 Budget Support Emergency Act of 1995.           August 14, 1995
  11-138 Rktal of Public Structures in Public Space August 15, 1995
  Emergency Act of 1995
  11-140 415 12th Street, N.W., Lease Conditional       September 29, 1995
  Approval Emergency Act of 1995
  11-141 800 Ninth Street, S.W., Lease Approval         October 6, 1995
  Emergency Act of 1995
  11-142 Closing of a Portion of G Street, N.W., and    October 12, 1995
  a Portion of a Public Alley in Square 454, SO. 95
  t, Emergency Act of 1995
  11-143 Rental of Public Structures in Public Space October 23, 1995
  Zchgressional Review Emergency Act of 1995
  11-144 Solid Waste Facility Permit Emergency Act       October 23, 1995
  of 1995
  11-145 Community Development Corporations              October 23, 1995
  Money Lender License Exemption Emergency
  Amendment Act of 1995
  11-148 Real Property Tax Rates for Tax Year 1996 October 26, 1995
  Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
  11-149 Council Contract Approval Modification          October 27, 1995
  Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
  11-151 Health Senrices Planning and Certificate of     November 9, 1995
  Need Program Emergency Act of 1995
  11-152 Interference with Medical Facilities and        November 9, 1995
  Health Professionals Congressional Review
  Emergency Act of 1995


                                 GAO/AIMD-96-45R       Information on Emergency Legislation

                                               17
ENCLOSURE                                                                 ENCLOSURE


 11-103 Reorganization No. 2 of 1995 to Transfer
 to the Mayor Certain Discretionary Authority




 11-121 Equitable Relief for Vendors Emergency




 Review Emergency Act of 1995




                             GAO/AIMD-96-45R       Information on Emergency Legislation

                                          16
ENCLOSURE                                                                ENCLOSURE


 .l-78 Vending Site Lottery and Assignment          June 28, 1995
 4mendment Emergency Act of 1995
 ,l-79 Probate Reform Act of 1994 Emergency         June 28, 1995
 ktendment Act of 1995
 11-80 Unemployment Compensation Public             June 28, 1995
 khool Employees Emergency Amendment Act of
 1995
 11-84 Vendor Payment Emergency Act of 1995         June 30, 1995
 11-86 Juvenile Curfew Emergency Act of 1995        July 6, 1995
 11-87 HIV Testing of Certain Criminal Offenders    July 6, 1995
 Emergency Act of 1995
 11-96 Rental Housing Conversion and Sale Act of    July 19, 1995
 1980Reenactment and Amendment Congressional
 RecessEmergency Act of 1995
 11-97 Insurance Omnibus Congressional Recess       July 19, 1995
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 11-98 Pennsylvania Avenue Development Area          July 19, 1995
 Farks and Plaza Public Safety Congressional
 Recess Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 11-99 Industrial Revenue Bond Forward          July 19, 1995
 Commitment Program Authorization Congressional
 Recess Emergency Act of 1995
 11-100 Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1995 for the July 21, 1995
 Department of Human Services and Department of                                           _.
 Corrections Emergency Act of 1995
 11-101 Extension of the Moratorium on Retail        July 21, 1995                         _-
 Service Station Conversions Emergency
 Amendment Act of 1995
 11-102 Omnibus Sports Consolidation Act of 1994 July 21, 1995
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1995



                             GAO/AIMD-96-45R       Information on Emergency Legislation

                                             15
ENCLOSURE                                                               ENCLOSURE


 11-48 Insurance Omnibus Emergency Amendment       May 15, 1995
 Act of 1995
 11-49 Industrial Revenue Bond Forward             May 15, 1995
 Commitment Program Authorization Emeigency
 Act of 1995
 11-50 Pennsylvania Avenue Development Area        May 15, 1995
 Parks and Plaza Public Safety Emergency
 Amendment Act of 1995
 11-57 Areha Tax Payment Emergency Amendment       May 18, 1995
 Act of 1995
 11-58 Prohibition on the Transfer of Firearms     May 18, 1995
 Emergency Act .of 1995
 11-60 Extension of the Equal Opportunity for      June 13, 1995
 Local, Small, and Disadvantaged Business
 Enterprises Act of 1992 Congressional Review
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 11-61 District of Columbia Campaign Finance       June 13, 1995
 Reform and Conflict of Interest Emergepcy
 Amendment Act of 1995
 11-62 District of Cohmbia Board of Education      June 16, 1995
 Fees for Adult, Comrnuni~, and Continuing
 Education Courses Emergency Amendment Act of
 1995
 11-65 Public Safety Budget Support Emergency      June 19, 1995
 Amendment Act 6f 1995
 11-66 Prevention of Transmission of the Human     June 19, 1995
 Immunodeficiency Virus Amendment Act of 1992
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 11-75 Child Support Enforcement Emergency         June 19, 1995
 Amendment Act of 1995




                             GAOhUMD-96-45R      Information on Emergency Legislation

                                          14
ENCLOSURE                                                                ENCLOSURE


 11-15 Financial Accountability and Management      February 28, 1995
 kt Budget Submission Date Emergency
 Wendment Act of 1995
 11-20 Recreation Emergency Act of 1995             February 28, 1995
 11-25 Advisory Neighborhood Commission Special March 6, 1995
 Election’ Emergency Amendment Act of 1995     .
 11-29 Budget Implementation Emergency Act of       March 15, 1995
 1995
 1130 Extension of the Equal Opportunity for        March 15, 1995
 Local, Small, and Disadvantaged Business    ’
 Enterprises Act of 1992 Emergency Amendment
 Act of 1995
 11-33 District of Columbia Campaign Finance         March 22, 1995
 Reform and Conflict of Interest Act of 1974 .
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 11-35 Human Services Spending Reduction             April 11, 1995
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 1l-36 Emergency Assistance Clarification            April 11, 1995
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 1l-37 Budget Implementation Exemption               April 11, 1995
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 1l-42 Toll Telecommunication Emergency              April 17, 1995
 Amendment Act of 1995
 11-43 Merit Personnel Early Out Retirement          April 17, 1995
 Revisions Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 11-44 Omnibus Budget Support Emergency Act of       April 28, 1995
 1995
 11-47 Rental Housing Conversion and Sale Act of     May 4, 1995
 1980 Reenactment and Amendment Emergency
 Act of 1995



                              GAO/AIMD-96-45R      Information on Emergency Legislation

                                            13
ENCLOSURE                                                                     ENCLOSURE


Table 1.2: Emergencv Legislation Passed bv the Council of the District of
           ColumbiaJanuarv. 1995 to November. 191!5


                         Act                                 Effective Date
 11-1 Early Intervention Services Sliding Fee Scale   January 18, 1995
 Establishment Congressional Adjournment
 Emergency Act of 1995
 11-2 Day Care Policy Congressional Adjournment       January 18, 1995
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 11-3 Prevention of the Spread of the Human           January 18, 1995
 Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired
 Immunodeficiency Syndrome Congressional
 Adjournment Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 11-4 Child Support Enforcement CongressionaI         January 19, 1995
 Adjournment Emergency Amendment Act of 1995
 11-5 Armory Board Interim Authority                      January 19, 1995
 Congressional Adjournment Emergency
 Amendment Act of 1995
 1l-6 ,Medicaid Benefits Protection Congressional         February 8, 1995
 Adiournment Emergencv Act of 1995
 11-7 District Employee Benefits Free Clinic          February 8, 1995
 Extension Congressional Adjournment Emergency
 Amendment Act of 1995
 11-13 Budget Spending Reduction Congressional        February 28,1995
 Adiournment Emergencv Amendment Act of 1995
 11-14 Homestead Deduction Limitation                 February 28, 1995
 Applicability Date Emergency Amendment Act of
 1995                                                 I

                               GAO/AIMD-96-45R      Information on Emergency Legislation
ENCLOSURE                                                                 ENCLOSURE


 10-372 D.C. Resident Tax Credit Emergency           December 27, 1994
 Amendment Act of 1994
 10-384 Solid Waste Facility Permit Emergency Act    December 28, 1994
 of 1994
 10-389 Multiyear Budget Spending Reduction and      December 29, 1994
 Support Emergency Act of 1994
 Total                                               62




                             GAO/m-96-45R           Information on Emergency Legislation

                                          11
ENCLOSURE                                                                 ENCLOSURE


 lo-322 Child Support Enforcement Emergency          August 4, 1994
 Amendment Act of 1994
 10-324 Cost of Living Adjustment Extension for      August 18, 1994
 Public Safety Personnel Emergency Amendment
 Act of 1994
 10-325 Armory Board Interim Authority               October 14, 1994
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1994
 lo-326 Public Assistance and Day Care Policy        October 21, 1994
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1994
 10-327 Prevention of the Spread of the Human        October 21, 1994
 Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired
 Immtmodeficiency Syndrome Emergency
 Amendment Act of 1994
 10-328 Child Support Enforcement .CongressionaI     October 21; 1994
 Adjournment Emergency Amendment Act of 1994
 10-329 Early Intervention Services Sliding Fee      October 21, 1994
 Scale Establishment Congressional Adjournment
 Emergency Act of 1994
 10-330 Day Care Policy Congressional                October 21, 1994
 Adjournment Emergency Amendment Act of 1994
 10-339 Budget Spending Reduction Emergency          November 22, 1994
 Amendment Act of 1994
 10-362 District of Columbia Board of Education      December 15, 1994
 Sale, Renovation, Lease-back, and Repurchase of
 Franklin School Congressional Adjournment
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1994
 10-363 Commercial Piracy Protection Emergency       December 15, 1.994
 Amendment Act of 1994
 10-366 Second Tax Revenue Anticipation Notes        December 22, 1994
 Emergency Act of 1994



                             GAO/AMD-96-45R        Information on Emergency Legislation

                                          10
ENCLOSURE                                                                ENCLOSURE


 1
 I
 I
 3          tment and Amendment Emergency
 1
 1                            mprehensive Plan
 1kt of 1984 Land Use Element Emergency
 1k-n&dment Act of 1994

 1



 1
 LO-299 District of Columbia Board of Education
 1
 1

 ,

  N-311 American Architectural Foundation
 ,Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act
 /




           chool Emergency Amendment Act of
IL



                             GAOMMD-96-45R        Information on Emergency Legislation

                                           9
ENCLOSURE                                                                  ENCLOSURE


 10-240 Emergency Assistance Program                  May 12, 1994
 Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act
 of 1994
 10-249 American Architectural Foundation             May 18, 1994
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1994
 10-250 Public Utility Environmental Impact           May 19, 1994
 Statement Electrical Emergency Amendment Act
 of 1994
 10-252 Hacker’s License Requirements                 May 18, 1994
 Amendment Act of 1984 Emergency Amendment
 Act of 1994
 10-253 Medicaid Benefits Protection                  June- 17, 1994
 Congressional Review Emergency Act of 1994
 10-255 Omnibus Criminal Justice Reform               June 22, 1994
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1994
 10-256 Miner Building Conveyance Emergency           June 23, 1994
 Amendment A& of 1994
 10-25’7 Alcoholic Beverage Control Act and.Rules     June 23, 1994
 Reform Amendment Act of 1994 Emergency
 Technical Amendment Act of 1994
 10-263 Metrobus Commercial Advertising               June 24, 1994
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1994
 10-264 Unemployment Compensation Public              June 24, 1994
 School Employees Emergency ‘Amendment Act of
 1994
 10-267 General Obligation Bond Act of 1994           June 30, 1994
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1994
 10-268 Councilmembers’ Salary Freeze Emergency       July 5, 1994



c
 Amendment Act of 1994
 10-269 Recycling Fee and Illegal Dumping             July 7, 1994
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1994


                             GAO/AlMD-96-45R        Information on Emergency Legislation

                                            8
ENCLOSURE                                                              ENCLOSURE




            caid Benefits Protection Emergency




 10-220 Real Property Statutory and F’iling _
 Deadlines Conformity Emergency Amendment Act




                            GAOMMD-96-45R        Information on Emergency Legislation

                                          7
ENCLOSURE                                                                   ENCLOSURE


Table 1.1: Emergencv Legislation Passed bv the Council of the District of
           Columbia-Januarv. 1994 to December, 1994


                        Act                             Effective Date
 10-174 Health Care Provider Assessment               January 25, 1994
 Congressional Recess Emergency Amendment Act
 of 1994
 10-175 Alternative Fuels Technology                  January 25, 1994
 Congressional Recess Emergency Amendment Act
 of 1994
 10-176 South Africa Sanctions Congressional          January 25, 1994
 Recess Emergency Repeal Act of 1994
 10-177 Insurance Omnibus Congressional Recess        January 25; 1994
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1994
 10-178 Patient Counseling Congressional .Recess      January 25, 1994
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1994
 10-179 Rental Housing Act of 1985 Winter of 1994 January 25, 1994
 Emergency Amendment Act of 1994
 10-183 Health Care Provider Costs                     January 26, 1994
 Reimbursement Commitment Emergency
 Amendment Act of 1994
 10-184 Water Main Break Fund Establishment           January 28, 1994
 Congressional Recess Emergency Act of 1994
 10-185 District of Columbia Solid Waste              February 2, 1994
 Management and Multi-Material Recycling Act of
 1988 Congressional Review Emergency
 Amendment Act of 1994
 10-187 Modified Guaranteed Contracts                 February 16, 1994
 Congressional Recess Emergency Amendment Act
 of 1994



                              GAO/AIMD-96-45R      Information on Emergency Legislation

                                            6
B-271115

not evade any required congressionallay and wait requirements6 Finally, based
on our review of federal and District laws, we are not aware of anything
prohibiting the District from adopting an emergency act to waive competitive
procurement requirements for these two leases.
                                      -m-m-




We are sending copies of this letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Minority
Members of the Senateand House Committees on Appropriations and the
Rankfng Minority Member of your Subcommittee. If you need further
information, please contact me at (202) 612-9510or Hodge Herry, Assktant
Director, at (202) 6129469.




Enclosure




‘?he Home Rule Act does not require the District to submit individuakontracts
or leasesto the Congressfor approval. Nor does the Home Rule Act require the
District to pass an act before it may enter into an individual contract or lease.
The District has enacted requirements similar to that set forth in section 304(b), of
Public Law No. 104-8,with regard to the Mayor’s entering into certain leases or
contracts. D.C. Code Ann. Sets. 1-336(c) and l-1181.6a do not require the Council
to pass an act and have it lay and wait before the Congressbefore a lease or
contract may be entered into by the Mayor.

6                   GAO&J&ID-96-45R Information on Emergency Legislation
H-271115

whether the 134 emergency acts passed during this time f&me met the D.C.
Council’s established criteria.
LEASE DISPOSTION
The Council passed two emergency acts that exempted two leasesfrom certain
District laws requiring that property be leased in compliance with competitive
procurement procedures.3 The Council justified one emergencyaction on the
grounds that District employees needed to be relocated from buildings located on
land needed for the District Sports Arena Project! The Council justified the other
emergency action becauseunless the new lease was approved, the lease about to
expire would remain in effect, thus requiring the District to pay higher monthly
rentals6
Section 451 of the Home Rule Act as amended by Section 304(b) of Public Law
No 104-8,sec. 304(b), 109 Stat. 151 (1995), requires Council approval of contracts
involving expenditures of more than $1 million. The amendment authorizes
Council approval through inaction or failure to pass a resolution disapproving the
contract. A resolution is not an act; thus, it is not presented to the Mayor for
approval, nor does it have to be submitted to lay and wait before the Congress.
Thus, assuming that a lease is a “contract” for the purpose of the amended section
451, the Council’s’granting approval to the lease through an emergencyact did




these were the “800 Ninth Street Emergency Act of 1995”(Act 11-141,October 6,
1996,42 DCR 57046705) and the “415 12th Street, N.W, Lease Conditional
Approval Emergency Act of 1996” (Act 11-140,September29,1995, 42 DCR 6606-
6607), respectively.
‘The “800 Nhith Street, SW., Lease Approval EmergencyDeclaration Resolution of
1996”(Resolution 11-141,October 6, 1995,42 DCR 6610-6611).
&The“416 12th Street, N.W., Lease Conditional Approval Emergency Declaration
Resolution of 1996”(Resolution 11-138,September 28, 1995,42 DCR 66145516).

4                  GAO/AI&ID-96-&R Information on Emergency Legislation
      .




  B-271115

 Beginning in October 1996,under the District of Columbia Financial
 Responsibility and ManagementAssistanceAct of 1995(Public Law 104-8),the
 Financial Responsibility and Management&&stance Authority, commonly
 referred to as the Authority, is required during a control year’ to review and
 approve District acts for consistency witi the District’s financial plan and budget
 prior to the acts being submitted to the Congress. The Authority may take no
 more than 14 days to review a Distr.+ctact. However, the requirement for
 Authority approval does not apply to emergency acts.
 EMERGENCYACTS PASSED
 In calendar year 1994,the District passed 62 emergency acts. The Council
 initiated 68 emergencyacts, while the Mayor initiated 4 emergency acts. Twenty-
 one of the emergencyacts were adopted to take effect immediately in order to
 cover the period during which another District act containing similar provisions
 was required to lay and wait before the House of Representatives and the Senate.
 Forty-one emergencyacts were adopted to respond to other emergency situations.
 Of the 62 emergencyacts, the substance of 20 was also enacted into permanent
 legislation, and the substanceof 13 was also enacted into temporary legislation?
 The substanceof the remaining 29 emergency acts was not made into either
 permanent or temporary legislation.

  Yn 1995,the District passed 76 emergency acts. The Council initiated 68
  emergencyacts, while the mayor initiated 8 emergency acts. Twenty-two of the
  emergencyacts were adopted to take. effect immediately in order to cover the
  period during which another District act containing similar provisions was
  required to lay and wait before the House of Representatives and the -Senate
  before taking effect. FWty-fouremergency acts were adopted to respond to other
  emergencysituations. Of the 76 emergency acts, the substance of 6 was also
  enacted into permanent legislation, and the substance of 28 was enacted into
  temporary legislation. The substance of the remaining 42 emergency acts was not
- made into either permanent or temporary legislation. The enclosure to this letter
  lists the emergencylegislation covered in our review. We did not determine


  ‘A control year is any fkal year for which a financial plan and budget approved
  by the Authority under section 202 (b) of the 1995 act (public Law 10443)is in
  effect, and includes fiscal year 1996.
  vemporary legislation expires after 226 days.


  3                  GAO/m-9645R           Information on Emergency Legislation
 H-271115

 located on land that is needed to build the District’s Sports Arena Project. The
 other was passed to avoid paying higher monthly rental on an expiring lease than
 under the approved lease. The Council approved both leases through the passage
 of emergency acts.
, To respond to your request, we analyzed emergencyacts enacted from January
  1994through November 1996. We discussedthe results of our work with officials
  of the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations and the Secretary to the D.C.
  Council. They concurred with the information presented in this report. Our
  work was performed from August 1, 1996to December 1, 1995,in accordance
  with generally accepted government auditing standards.
 THE DISTRICT’SLEGISLATIVE PROCESS
The District of Columbia Self-Government.and Government Reorganization Act
(Home Rule Act), Public Law 93-198,as amended,.establishedprocedures for acts
passed by the Council to become law. Generally, the Council is authorized to
pass acts by a majority vote of members present and voting. All acts passed by
the Council must be presented to the Mayor for approval or disapproval. The
Mayor has 10 days to disapprove an act, otherwise it is deemed approved. The
Council has 30 days to override any Mayoral disapprovals.
Generally, once a District act has received the requisite approval of the Council
and the Mayor, it must be submitted to lay and wait before the House of
Represent+ives and the Senate for 30 or 60 days (depending on the substance of
the act) before it becomes law. The lay and wait period is required to provide
time for a joint resolution to be enacted into law disapproving the District act
when it is deemed warranted by the Congress. However, an emergency act is not
subject to the lay and wait requirement, but it is only effective for a.period of 90
days.
The Council may by a two-thirds vote of its members determine that an
emergency circumstance makes it necessaryto immediately pass an emergency
act. The Home Rule Act does not define what constitutes an “emergency               -
circumstance.” However, the Council has adopted a rule that defines an
“emergency”to mean a situation that “adversely affects the health, safety, welfare,
or economic well-being of a person for which legislative relief is deemed
appropriate and necessary by the CounciP and adherence to the ordinary
legislative process would result in an adverse delay.



2                   GAOKIMD-96-45R Information on Emergency Legislation
      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      Accounting and Information
      Management Division

       E271116

       February 21,1996

        The Honorable Thomas M. Davis III
        Chairman, Subcommittee on the
          District of Coiumbia
      . Committee on GovernmentReform
          and Oversight
        House of Representatives
       Dear Mr. Chairman:
       This letter responds to a request from your office to provide information on the
       n&ure and use of the District of Columbia’s authority to adopt emergency
       legislation during calendar years 1994and 1995. Speei&aRy, you asked that we
       (1) describe how legislation is enacted in the District, especially emergency
       legislation, (2) determine how many emergency bills were enacted in calendar
       years 1994and 1995and their disposition, and (3) ‘determine the disposition of
       two emergencyacts which exempted two leases from compliance with certain
       District laws regarding competitive procurement.
       An emergencyact is effective for only 90 days and is not subject to the
       congressionalreview that applies to most of the District’s legislation. We
       identified a total of 62 emergencyacts that were adopted in 1994tid 76
       emergencyacts that were adopted in 1995. These emergency acts were used to
       address a variety of situations which the D.C. Council and the Mayor deemed
       urgent, affecting, for example, revenues, expenses,or policy issues; waiving legal
       requirements; or granting the Council approval to take certain actions. In many
       instances, an emergencyact was passedin order to cover the period during which
       another District act containing similar provisions was undergoing the required
       congressionalreview. The enclosure to this letter lists the emergencylegislation
        we reviewed.
       You specifically asked about two emergency acts. One was passed to provide
       office space for District employeeswho were being relocated from buildings



                             GAO/AIMD-9645R Information on Emergency Legislation

                                   15 LPVB