- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
In its March 2008 report, the Government Accountability Office concluded that the IRIS database is at serious risk of becoming obsolete because the EPA has not been able to routinely complete timely, credible assessments or decrease its backlog of 70 ongoing assessments.
According to the GAO report, a total of four assessments were completed in fiscal years 2006 and 2007. In addition, recent assessment process changes, as well as other changes the EPA was considering at the time of GAO’s review, further reduce the timeliness and credibility of IRIS assessments.
The report said the agency’s efforts to finalize assessments have been thwarted by a combination of factors, including two new required reviews of IRIS assessments by OMB and other federal agencies; EPA management decisions, such as delaying some assessments to await new research; and the compounding effect of delays; even one delay can have a domino effect, requiring the process to essentially be repeated.
GAO said the two new OMB/interagency reviews of draft assessments involve other federal agencies in the EPA’s IRIS assessment process in a manner that limits the credibility of IRIS assessments and hinders the agency's ability to manage them. For example, the OMB/interagency reviews lack transparency, and OMB required EPA to terminate five assessments EPA had initiated to help it implement the Clean Air Act.
The changes to the IRIS assessment process that EPA was considering, but had not yet issued at the time of the GAO review, would have added to the already unacceptable level of delays in completing IRIS assessments and further limited the credibility of the assessments, GAO said.
Read the entire study at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08810t.pdf.