oversight

Environmental Protection: Factors Contributing to Lengthy Award Times for EPA Grants

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-07-14.

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

                  United States General Accounting Office

GAO               Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee
                  on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies,
                  Committee on Appropriations, House of
                  Representatives

July 1999
                  ENVIRONMENTAL
                  PROTECTION
                  Factors Contributing to
                  Lengthy Award Times
                  for EPA Grants




GAO/RCED-99-204
      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      Resources, Community, and
      Economic Development Division

      B-282807

      July 14, 1999

      The Honorable James T. Walsh
      Chairman, Subcommittee on VA, HUD,
        and Independent Agencies
      Committee on Appropriations
      House of Representatives

      Dear Mr. Chairman:

      The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relies heavily on grants to
      carry out its mission of protecting human health and safeguarding the
      natural environment. These grants, which EPA awards to states, tribes,
      localities, and academic institutions, provide assistance for projects that
      range from conducting environmental research to constructing
      wastewater treatment facilities.1 A significant portion of EPA’s budget is
      used to fund grants. For fiscal year 1999, for example, EPA projected that it
      would use about $4 billion, or 53 percent of its $7.6 billion budget, for
      grants.

      EPA’s grant award process consists of a series of steps that generally
      begins when the agency receives its annual appropriation2 and ends when
      it awards a grant to a recipient. As part of this process, a grant applicant
      must prepare and submit a detailed grant application, and EPA and the
      grantee agree on a work plan that describes the tasks to be performed, as
      well as specific commitments and deliverables.

      EPA funds two broad categories of grants—“agency-requested” and
      “congressionally directed.” Agency-requested grants implement ongoing
      environmental programs and fund other executive-branch priorities.
      Congressionally directed grants originate in EPA’s appropriations acts and
      in the committee reports accompanying the acts. These acts and reports
      direct the agency to fund specific projects out of its appropriations.

      Because of your interest in the timeliness of EPA’s grant award process,
      you asked us to identify (1) the number and dollar value of the


      1
       In this report, the term “grants” includes both grants and cooperative agreements. Grants provide
      organizations with financial assistance to carry out programs without substantial federal involvement.
      Cooperative agreements provide financial assistance with substantial federal involvement. Both grants
      and cooperative agreements are included in the broader category of “assistance agreements.”
      2
       The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) makes EPA’s appropriations available through an
      allotment process. We used OMB’s allotment date as the starting point in calculating how long it takes
      EPA to award a grant.



      Page 1                                       GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
                   B-282807




                   agency-requested and congressionally directed grants awarded for fiscal
                   years 1995-98; (2) the median award time for both types of grants, as
                   measured by the number of days between the date of the fiscal year
                   appropriation and the date of the grant award; and (3) the major reasons
                   for lengthy awards.


                   From fiscal year 1995 through fiscal year 1998, the most recent years for
Results in Brief   which complete grant data were available, EPA awarded 12,861
                   agency-requested grants valued at approximately $8.4 billion and 950
                   congressionally directed grants valued at approximately $1.4 billion (see
                   fig. 1).




                   Page 2                           GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
                                             B-282807




Figure 1: Number and Dollar Amounts of Grants Awarded by EPA for Fiscal Years 1995-98

4,000       Number of grants                                                 3.5   Dollars in billions



3,500                                                                        3.0


3,000
                                                                             2.5


2,500
                                                                             2.0

2,000

                                                                             1.5
1,500


                                                                             1.0
1,000


                                                                             0.5
  500



        0                                                                    0.0

             1995              1996   1997            1998                         1995                  1996    1997          1998
             Fiscal years

                                                  Agency–requested

                                                  Congressionally directed


                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of EPA’s data.




                                             During fiscal years 1995-98, the median time that EPA took to award both
                                             agency-requested and congressionally directed grants, as measured by the
                                             number of days between the date of the fiscal year appropriation and the
                                             date of the grant award, was about the same for each type of grant (see fig.
                                             2).




                                             Page 3                                          GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
                                     B-282807




Figure 2: Median Number of Days to
Award Grants, Fiscal Years 1995-98   350   Median number of days
                                                                                           327   327
                                                     312

                                     300

                                              270
                                                                                                                 264    261
                                     250



                                     200



                                     150

                                                                      118
                                                                             104
                                     100



                                      50



                                       0

                                              1995                    1996                1997                   1998
                                              Fiscal years

                                                       Agency–requested

                                                       Congressionally directed



                                     Note: The median number of days is smaller for fiscal year 1996 than for the other fiscal years
                                     because of some unusual circumstances, including three government shutdowns that delayed
                                     EPA’s appropriations.

                                     Source: GAO’s analysis of EPA’s data.




                                     However, some grants took considerably longer to award. Specifically, EPA
                                     took at least twice the median number of days to award 409
                                     agency-requested grants valued at $48 million and 30 congressionally
                                     directed grants valued at $27 million. Some grants of both types took over
                                     600 days to award.

                                     Several factors can lengthen the time taken to award both
                                     agency-requested and congressionally directed grants. For example,



                                     Page 4                                        GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
                 B-282807




             •   grantees may not submit grant applications in a timely manner,
             •   EPA may find problems with grantees’ proposed work plans,
             •   grants may need to be awarded competitively, and
             •   grantees may not need funding immediately, even though funding is
                 available.

                 Awarding congressionally directed grants in a timely manner may involve
                 issues that do not generally arise for agency-requested grants. For
                 example, grantees may be unfamiliar with EPA’s grant award process, and
                 EPA may need to identify specific grantees when the appropriations
                 committees have not done so.


                 More than 55 EPA programs provide grants to states, tribes, localities, and
Background       other regional or local authorities to fund continuing environmental
                 programs, such as air pollution monitoring. These programs provide
                 assistance to governments, institutions, nonprofit organizations, and
                 private parties to contribute data, training, and research. EPA also provides
                 grant funding to state revolving loan funds that, in turn, provide financing
                 to municipalities for wastewater and drinking water facilities. Thus, EPA
                 accomplishes a large part of its mission by awarding grant funds for other
                 organizations to conduct environmental programs and projects. In fiscal
                 year 1998, EPA expected to obligate about $3.5 billion, or 47 percent of its
                 $7.4 billion budget, for grant funding.

                 Each fiscal year, EPA submits its budget request to the Congress,
                 identifying the amounts it intends to award as grants throughout the
                 coming fiscal year. This budget request does not provide for
                 congressionally directed grants. During their deliberations, the
                 congressional appropriations committees often direct EPA to set aside
                 grant funds for particular programs or purposes. A committee may identify
                 the grantee and the grant amount. For example, the House Appropriations
                 Committee’s conference report for fiscal year 1995 directs that a $2 million
                 grant be awarded to the Gulf of Maine Council. Alternatively, a committee
                 may identify a purpose without designating a grantee. For example, the
                 same committee report directs that $8.5 million be awarded for rural water
                 technical assistance activities. Generally, no additional appropriations are
                 provided specifically for funding or managing congressionally directed
                 grants.

                 As part of the yearly appropriations process, EPA prepares—within 30 days
                 of the enactment of its appropriations legislation—an operating plan for



                 Page 5                            GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
B-282807




approval by its appropriations committees. This plan explains how the
agency intends to implement its budget. Because the agency does not
usually receive advance notice for congressionally directed grants, it must
provide in its operating plan for funding and managing these grants. The
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) makes funds available to EPA
through an allotment process that allocates funds after they are
appropriated.

EPA’s headquarters and regional budget, program, and grant management
offices participate in the grant funding process. The budget office makes
funds available through its management of the agency’s operating plan; the
program offices allocate funding amounts and are responsible for
programmatic, scientific, and technical oversight; and the grant
management offices perform and document administrative reviews of
grantees’ application packages.

EPA’s headquarters budget office monitors the appropriations process and,
shortly after the beginning of a new fiscal year, identifies and assigns
responsibility for each congressionally directed grant to a specific EPA
headquarters program office or regional office. The program office, in
turn, may retain the responsibility for awarding the grant or assign this
responsibility to a regional office. If the responsibility is assigned, the
program office transmits the necessary funding to the regional office. EPA
officials told us that once a headquarters program office assigns
responsibility for a grant to a regional office, the program office does not
generally follow up on or monitor the status of the grant to see whether it
is made available in a timely manner. While EPA headquarters monitors
regional workload levels, it does not monitor the status of individual
grants unless a problem or issue arises. Because the program offices play a
pivotal role in the grant award process, they are encouraged to establish
an annual plan and schedule for awarding both agency-requested and
congressionally designated grants and to communicate that plan and
schedule to the appropriate budget and grant management offices.

In September 1992, EPA issued a policy statement for one category of
agency-requested grants—continuing environmental programs—requiring
that these grants be awarded “as quickly as possible after funds become
available.” Under the policy, the appropriate EPA program and grant
management offices must decide within 60 days of receiving a grant
application whether to approve, conditionally approve, or disapprove the




Page 6                           GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
                                         B-282807




                                         application.3 Within this period, EPA has 45 days to inform the applicant in
                                         writing of the status of the application. However, this EPA policy covers
                                         only about 20 percent of the agency’s grants. For other grants awarded by
                                         EPA headquarters, the agency has established a 60-day “customer service
                                         standard” for acting on grant applications—including applications for
                                         congressionally directed grants. According to EPA headquarters grant
                                         administration officials, EPA regional offices are also developing customer
                                         service standards.


                                         From fiscal year 1995 through fiscal year 1998, EPA awarded 12,861
EPA Grants for Fiscal                    agency-requested grants valued at approximately $8.4 billion and 950
Years 1995-98                            congressionally directed grants totaling about $1.4 billion (see table 1).
                                         During this period, the number of congressionally directed grants ranged
                                         from about 4.3 percent to 8.5 percent of the total number of grants
                                         awarded, and the dollar value of these grants ranged from 7 percent to 26
                                         percent of the total dollar value. In total, EPA awarded 13,811 grants valued
                                         at $9.9 billion during the 4-year period. EPA’s regional offices awarded 93
                                         percent of these grants (including the congressionally directed grants)
                                         valued at $9.2 billion.


Table 1: EPA’s Agency-Requested and Congressionally Directed Grants, Fiscal Years 1995-98
                          Agency-requested             Congressionally directed                                       Total
Fiscal year                 Number           Amount              Number               Amount                  Number                     Amount
1995                          3,580   $2,631,039,747                   160       $935,238,230                    3,740        $3,566,277,977
1996                          2,588     625,967,622                    214         94,682,988                    2,802            720,650,610
1997                          3,467    2,046,886,190                   276        172,940,849                    3,743         2,219,827,039
1998                          3,226    3,122,860,759                   300        232,283,174                    3,526         3,355,143,933
Total                        12,861   $8,426,754,318                   950    $1,435,145,241                    13,811        $9,861,899,560
                                         Source: GAO’s analysis of EPA’s data.




                                         For fiscal years 1995-98, the median time that EPA took to award both
Time Taken to Award                      agency-requested and congressionally directed grants was about the same
Grants                                   (see table 2). The time taken to award a grant is the number of days
                                         elapsed between the date OMB allots EPA’s fiscal year appropriation and
                                         the date EPA awards the grant. The median date is the midpoint in a
                                         sequentially ordered list; half of the grants are below the median number


                                         3
                                          EPA also requires that the program office “attempt to complete the review” [of the grantee’s
                                         application] within 3 weeks of receiving the application.



                                         Page 7                                       GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
                                       B-282807




                                       of days, and half are above. Because the sizes of the intervals vary widely
                                       from one type of grant to another, the median may be a more useful
                                       representation of the “typical” number of days than the average or mean.

Table 2: Median Number of Days Taken
to Award EPA Grants, Fiscal Years                                              Median number of days taken to award grants
1995-98                                Fiscal year                                  Agency-requested          Congressionally directed
                                       1995                                                            270                               312
                                       1996                                                            118                               104
                                       1997                                                            327                               327
                                       1998                                                            264                               261
                                       Note: The median number of days is smaller for fiscal year 1996 than for the other fiscal years
                                       because of some very unusual circumstances, including three government shutdowns that
                                       delayed EPA’s appropriations.

                                       Source: GAO’s analysis of EPA’s data.



                                       According to EPA officials, the time taken to award grants is influenced by
                                       the dates when EPA receives its appropriation, when the appropriations
                                       committees approve its operating plan, and when its program offices
                                       provide annual guidance to the regional offices on the agency-requested
                                       and congressionally directed grants to be awarded. Some EPA regional
                                       officials maintain that they must wait for an approved operating plan
                                       before making grant awards. The officials pointed out, for example, that
                                       although EPA’s fiscal year 1999 appropriations act was passed in October
                                       1998, the agency did not have an approved operating plan until late
                                       February 1999. The officials further indicated that the early assumptions
                                       about funding levels used to prepare the plan do not always carry forward
                                       to the final approved plan.

                                       While there was very little difference in the median time taken to award
                                       agency-requested and congressionally directed grants, some grants of both
                                       types—409 agency-requested grants valued at $48 million and 30
                                       congressionally directed grants valued at $27 million—took more than
                                       twice the median number of days to award. Some grants of both types
                                       took over 600 days to award. For each fiscal year from 1995 through 1998,
                                       figure 3 shows the percentage of grants awarded within specific time
                                       frames.




                                       Page 8                                       GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
                                                  B-282807




Figure 3: Percentage of Grants Awarded, by Time Taken for Awards, Fiscal Years 1995-98


                                 1995                                                                        1996
60   Percent of grants awarded                                             60 Percent of grants awarded


50                                                                         50


40                                                                         40


30                                                                         30


20                                                                         20


10                                                                         10


 0                                                                          0

      100 or fewer   101-200            201-300    301 or more                   100 or fewer      101-200      201-300       301 or more
      Number of days                                                             Number of days


                                 1997                                                                         1998
80 Percent of grants awarded                                                60   Percent of grants awarded


70
                                                                            50

60
                                                                            40
50

40                                                                          30

30
                                                                            20
20
                                                                            10
10

 0                                                                           0

       100 or fewer   101-200           201-300    301 or more                    100 or fewer     101-200          201-300   301 or more
       Number of days                                                             Number of days


                                                      Agency–requested

                                                      Congressionally directed


                                                  Source: GAO’s analysis of EPA’s data.




                                                  Page 9                                         GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
                           B-282807




                           Several factors influence the time taken to award grants, some of which
Major Reasons for          affect both agency-requested and congressionally directed grants and
Lengthy Awards             others of which are particular to congressionally directed grants. For
                           example, awards of both types of grants may be delayed when grantees do
                           not submit their grant applications on time or when EPA finds problems
                           with the grantees’ proposed work plans. EPA’s procedures for awarding
                           grants competitively, including procedures for soliciting and evaluating
                           grant proposals, also take time. Furthermore, grantees that have funding
                           available from a prior year often wait until they need additional funds to
                           apply for a new grant. Awards of congressionally directed grants may be
                           delayed when grantees are not familiar with EPA’s grant award process or
                           when EPA needs to identify grantees after funds have been congressionally
                           directed but grantees have not been designated.


Reasons Affecting Both     Grantees may increase the time taken to award grants if they are late in
Agency-Requested and       submitting their grant application packages to EPA or do not include
Congressionally Directed   complete work plans as a part of these packages. According to EPA, the
                           grant review process cannot begin until the agency receives the grantee’s
Grants                     application package, and the agency cannot approve the grant from a
                           technical standpoint unless the grantee has prepared an acceptable work
                           plan defining the tasks that will be accomplished. EPA officials said they
                           found it much easier to deal with the recipients of agency-requested
                           grants, who are familiar with the agency’s grant award procedures, than to
                           instruct new grantees in the intricacies of the process. One regional
                           official noted that because each fiscal year usually brings new
                           congressionally designated grantees, it is difficult for EPA to establish
                           ongoing relationships with them.

                           Arriving at an acceptable work plan involves negotiation between EPA and
                           the grantee. Sometimes, these negotiations can take several months.
                           According to EPA regional grant officials, it takes about 4 to 5 months for
                           the agency and a prospective congressionally designated grantee to
                           negotiate a work plan that meets congressional intentions for a specific
                           grant. Such a negotiation takes place after EPA has received its annual
                           grant appropriation. An EPA headquarters grant administration official said
                           that it can also take several months to negotiate an acceptable work plan
                           with the recipient of a continuing environmental program grant. However,
                           because of the long lead times, the official said, the parties can work
                           ahead, starting negotiations over the work plan before EPA receives its
                           annual appropriation. In September 1998, EPA’s Inspector General
                           reported, after reviewing 55 grant work plans, that the agency’s program



                           Page 10                          GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
B-282807




officers did not always negotiate work plans with well-defined
commitments. The Inspector General recommended increased training in
this area for EPA officials.

States’ concerns about the timing of EPA’s grant awards led EPA, in 1992, to
issue a policy memorandum on awarding grants for continuing
environmental programs. The memorandum cited two possible causes of
delays—confusion about when grant funds become available and
difficulties in obtaining approval of work plans. The memorandum also
noted that disagreements over EPA/state initiatives and requirements
delayed EPA and state program officials’ negotiations of work plans. Such
disagreements can hold up grant awards until all work plan issues have
been resolved and the work plans have been approved. To address this
problem, the policy memorandum established a requirement for EPA to
approve, conditionally approve, or disapprove an application for a
continuing environmental program grant (including the work plan) within
60 days of receiving the grant application package.

Also adding time to grant awards, according to EPA officials, are the
agency’s procedures for awarding grants competitively, including those for
soliciting and evaluating grant proposals. Although EPA has no overall
requirements for competition, some program offices award
agency-requested grants competitively to help ensure that only the best
proposals are funded. For example, EPA’s Office of Research and
Development conducts an independent scientific peer review of proposed
research grants, which, officials said, adds about 4 weeks to the grant
award process. Most of EPA’s congressionally directed environmental
justice and some environmental equity grants are also awarded
competitively.4 EPA officials say they must use an extensive scoring
process to determine the most eligible grantees for limited funds in this
area.

Still another reason for the time taken to award grants, disclosed by our
review of selected grant files, is that the recipients of both
agency-requested and congressionally directed grants do not always need
funding when grant funds become available. When grantees have not

4
 “Environmental justice” is defined by EPA as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all
people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development,
implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Fair treatment
means that no group of people, including racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic group should bear a
disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial,
municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and
policies.” EPA defines “environmental equity” as “equal protection from environmental hazards for
individuals, groups, or communities regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status.”



Page 11                                      GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
                           B-282807




                           liquidated all of their grant funds from the prior fiscal year, our review
                           showed, they sometimes postpone the submission of their applications for
                           new grant funds. For example, if a construction project was late in getting
                           started and grant funds are therefore left over from the prior fiscal year, a
                           grantee may postpone the submission of an application for an
                           agency-requested construction grant. Similarly, EPA grant officials noted, if
                           the recipient of a congressionally directed grant in one fiscal year is
                           designated as a grantee in the following fiscal year and the grantee has not
                           spent all of the funds from the first fiscal year, the grantee may postpone
                           the submission of a grant application until new funding is required.


Issues With                According to EPA officials, one of the major reasons for delays in awarding
Congressionally Directed   congressionally directed grants is that the grantees are not familiar with
Grants                     the federal grant application process. Even organizations identified as
                           grantees in the appropriations committees’ reports are required to submit
                           detailed grant applications and work plans. Not all grantees are aware of
                           this requirement. EPA officials said that they do not generally assist new
                           grantees in preparing their grant application packages and do not take a
                           proactive role in expediting grant awards. However, according to EPA grant
                           administration officials, the agency assists grantees that ask for help in
                           developing their work plans, to the extent appropriate. The officials
                           pointed out that the grantees are still responsible for preparing the plans.
                           Some EPA regions assist the grantees by providing workshops and training.
                           EPA officials pointed out that the agency has developed a grant-writing
                           tutorial, available on CD-ROM and the Internet, for new or small grantees.
                           However, one regional official noted that EPA’s grant application packages
                           do not generally indicate that such assistance is available.

                           EPA officials pointed out that, in some cases, a specific grantee may not be
                           identified in the appropriations committees’ reports; instead, the
                           committees simply direct that funding go to a particular area of interest. In
                           these cases, EPA must either identify the intended grantee through research
                           or competitively award the grant by soliciting and evaluating grant
                           proposals. Each of these steps adds time to the process. An EPA regional
                           official also said that administering congressionally directed grants is
                           difficult because EPA does not receive advance notice of them and has no
                           information to work with until the grants are designated in the
                           appropriations committees’ conference reports.

                           EPA grant administration officials said they take the award and
                           management of congressionally directed grants seriously. This view was



                           Page 12                           GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
                  B-282807




                  echoed by EPA regional officials, who indicated that every effort is made to
                  accommodate congressionally directed grants. However, the officials
                  noted, the agency does not receive additional staff and resources to
                  manage these grants. According to several EPA headquarters and regional
                  grant administration officials, congressionally directed grants are
                  sometimes seen as not furthering the agency’s mission or as not aligned
                  with its priorities.


                  We provided EPA with a draft of this report for review and comment. We
Agency Comments   discussed the draft report with the Director of EPA’s Office of Grants and
                  Debarment, who said EPA generally agreed with the findings in the report
                  and suggested that we clarify the applicability of EPA’s customer service
                  standard for processing and awarding grants. According to the Director,
                  this standard applies to EPA headquarters offices, and regional offices are
                  also developing such standards. We incorporated this and other technical
                  comments into the report.


                  To identify the number and dollar value of, and the median time taken to
Scope and         award, agency-requested and congressionally directed grants, we obtained
Methodology       data from EPA’s Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS),
                  including the most recent financial and award date information for fiscal
                  years 1995-98. The data provided by EPA were for newly awarded grants for
                  each of the 4 fiscal years and did not include any amendments to the
                  grants. We analyzed these data by calculating, for each grant, the number
                  of days between the date that OMB allotted funds to EPA and the date the
                  grant was awarded. The dates of allotment were provided to us by EPA’s
                  headquarters budget office. We used these dates in our calculations
                  because OMB must allot EPA’s appropriation before EPA can award grant
                  funds.

                  For some of EPA’s agency-requested grants, the number of days between
                  OMB’s allotment date and EPA’s grant award date, as indicated by IFMS
                  data, was erroneous because EPA uses a budget procedure called “forward
                  funding.” Under this procedure, EPA uses funds carried over from a prior
                  year for a grant, as well as new funding authority. While a grant may be
                  awarded in a short time, IFMS can overstate the time taken for the award
                  because it does not recognize that funds are being carried over to a new
                  fiscal year. IFMS does not separately identify forward-funded grants, and
                  EPA officials could not provide us with information that would allow us to
                  do so. These grants are included in our analysis and would influence any



                  Page 13                          GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
B-282807




calculations of average numbers of days. We therefore used the median, or
middle value of a data set, to describe the timeliness of a grant award.

Another factor influenced our calculation of the number and dollar value
of grants and of the median time taken to award them. For fiscal year 1996,
OMB’s allotment of funds to EPA, which would normally have occurred in
October or November 1995, did not occur until May 1996. The allotment
occurred later than usual because of special circumstances, including the
budget crisis of fiscal year 1996 and the associated government
shutdowns. Consequently, for fiscal year 1996, calculations using IFMS
data showed that the time taken to award some grants was “negative”
because the grants were awarded before the allotment date under
continuing budget resolutions. We eliminated all such grants from our
review. Therefore, the number of grants and the amounts associated with
agency-requested grants for fiscal year 1996 are understated.

To obtain information on the reasons for lengthy awards, we talked with
EPA officials at selected locations about the agency’s policy on timeliness
and about how the agency oversees the grant award process. Because
information on the reasons for lengthy awards is not available in IFMS, we
reviewed selected hardcopy grant files to identify reasons for the delays
and other information. This effort pointed to circumstances affecting
congressionally directed grants. We then reviewed the files for 23
congressionally directed grants and 26 agency-requested grants, which we
selected on the basis of the time taken to award the grants. We performed
our review at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and at the three EPA
regional offices that managed the most grants for fiscal years 1995-98—the
Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco offices. We also reviewed
documents related to EPA’s grant award process, such as regulations,
policies, and directives, as well as appropriations acts and associated
committee reports. We conducted our review from February through
June 1999 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards.


We are sending copies of this report to the Chairs and Ranking Minority
Members of the Senate and House Committees and Subcommittees with
responsibility for EPA’s grants. We will also send copies of this report to
Carol M. Browner, Administrator, EPA, and Jacob Lew, Director, Office of
Management and Budget. Copies will also be made available to others
upon request.




Page 14                           GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
           B-282807




           If you have any questions about this report, please contact me at
           (202) 512-6111 or John A. Wanska at (312) 220-7628. Key contributors to
           this assignment were Willie E. Bailey, Julian M. Fogle, James B. Hayward,
           and John D. Yakaitis.

           Sincerely yours,




           David G. Wood
           Associate Director, Environmental Protection
             Issues




(160464)   Page 15                         GAO/RCED-99-204 Timeliness of EPA Grant Awards
Ordering Information

The first copy of each GAO report and testimony is free.
Additional copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the
following address, accompanied by a check or money order
made out to the Superintendent of Documents, when
necessary. VISA and MasterCard credit cards are accepted, also.
Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address
are discounted 25 percent.

Orders by mail:

U.S. General Accounting Office
P.O. Box 37050
Washington, DC 20013

or visit:

Room 1100
700 4th St. NW (corner of 4th and G Sts. NW)
U.S. General Accounting Office
Washington, DC

Orders may also be placed by calling (202) 512-6000
or by using fax number (202) 512-6061, or TDD (202) 512-2537.

Each day, GAO issues a list of newly available reports and
testimony. To receive facsimile copies of the daily list or any
list from the past 30 days, please call (202) 512-6000 using a
touchtone phone. A recorded menu will provide information on
how to obtain these lists.

For information on how to access GAO reports on the INTERNET,
send an e-mail message with "info" in the body to:

info@www.gao.gov

or visit GAO’s World Wide Web Home Page at:

http://www.gao.gov




PRINTED ON    RECYCLED PAPER
United States                       Bulk Rate
General Accounting Office      Postage & Fees Paid
Washington, D.C. 20548-0001           GAO
                                 Permit No. G100
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use $300

Address Correction Requested