Federal Manager's Daily Report

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The EPA has not done an analysis of its overall workforce needs as required by a 2017 government-wide policy, an IG report has said, listing that as one of the major management challenges facing the agency.

“The EPA’s ability to assess its workload–and subsequently estimate workforce levels necessary to carry out that workload–is critically important to mission accomplishment,” the IG said, adding that it and the GAO have issued 15 reports dating to 1987 on the issue.

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Over the last decade, the EPA’s workforce declined by some 2,500 positions–to about 15,000–due to budget restrictions, it noted. “Without a clear understanding of its workload, it is unclear whether this decline jeopardizes the EPA’s ability to meet its statutory requirements and overall mission to protect human health and the environment, or if the decline represents a natural and justifiable progression because the EPA has completed major regulations implementing environmental statutes and delegated many environmental programs to the states,” it said.

It added that since 2005, certain EPA offices have studied their own workloads–at least six such studies were performed by contractors at a cost of nearly $3 million–but “for the most part, the EPA has not used the findings and recommendations from these studies” on grounds that they were not feasible.

Other key management challenges listed in the report include improving: oversight of state agencies authorized to accomplish environmental goals; information security; data quality on program performance; and communication to the public of environmental and health risks.