A  BACKGROUND REPORT
                                   Program Evaluation  Division
                                   Office of Management  Systems
                                     and Evaluation
                                   Office of Policy  and  Resource
                                   Environmental Protection Agency
                                   September 3, 1982
                              J>S» Environmental Protect 1 ->r  lgs::cj
                              Library, Room 2404  PM-2II-A
                              401 M Sv.-PPpt- S.W.

            Coordination of Ground Water
            Activities at EPA Headquarters

            Executive Summary

            Within EPA Headquarters,  four Assistant Administrators' offices
t j          and several Program Offices  (including those  responsible  for
. H          the drinking water/underground injection control,  solid waste/
            hazardous waste, Superfund,  pesticides,  radiation,  and construc-
            tion grants programs)  perform similar  functions  related to
.  "          ground water protection and  have  responsibilities  that conflict
j            and overlap to  some extent.   The  various Program Offices  operate
            under different statutes  that provide  differing  mandates  for
  ;          ground water protection.   No single  official  below the Admini-
            strator's level has the authority to coordinate  these programs.

            EPA's objective presumably is to  make  its ground water protection
  ^          activities cohesive, i.e., logically interrelated,  consistent,
            complementary.   Toward that  end,  the Agency might  wish to ensure,
            for example, that its  ground water monitoring activities  are
            non-duplicative and consistent with  EPA (and  State)  priorities
            for problem assessment and preventive  action  or  that various
            remedial  actions affecting a single  aquifer are  based on  common
-  -_          assessments of  the problem and common  objectives for rectifying it
            (to the extent  permitted  by  law).

            There are basically two ways to achieve  the objective of  ensuring
            that Headquarters ground  water protection activities are  cohesive:
                 o  Publish a policy  laying out  the  general  principles
 ; •   -   ...-        underlying the Agency's activities  (e.g.,  States
                    have the primary  role; level of  protection should
 •4       ---"".      De based on current  and projected future uses) and
                    supplement it  with guidance  documents spelling out
                    how the Program Of fices will perform  common
                    functions (e.g.,  reviewing variance applications
                    and State-delegation requests) or deal with
                    common  issues  (e.g.,  definition  of ground  water,
                    appropriate extent of clean-up).

                 o  Publish a policy  laying out  general principles but
                    do not  develop guidance documents.  Program Offices
                    would develop  proposals for  dealing with programmatic
                    and regulatory issues on  the basis of their own
           • '       interpretations of the general principles  and
 —                  applicable laws,  but a coordinating official or group .
                    would have authority to review and/or reject the
                    Program Offices'  proposals.

 At the conclusion of Phase 2, the Agency should have in place
both operating guidance enabling HQ Program Offices to take'
consistent and complementary approaches to activities bearing
on ground water protection and a coordinating mechanism for
monitoring adherence to the Agency's policy and resolving
issues arising within or outside the scope of the published,i: .
guidance documents.                            -. ••  -.   :."i.  ?i--;

     o   Inconsistent approaches  to  regulating  similar
         sources of ground water  pollution under different. .
         EPA regulations.

     o   Inconsistent responses to a single ground water con-:
         tamination incident by different EPA program. off ices.

          Possible Administrative^/Political Effects:  : :  ;;;_-.

     o   Confusing and conflicting guidance to  State  and
         local governments trying to control pollution of
         ground water, thus making implementation and
         enforcement more difficult.

     o   Confusing and conflicting guidance to  industries,
         local governments, and individuals trying to comply
         with regulations, thus making voluntary compliance
         more difficult.

     o   Criticism of EPA by, and perhaps loss  of credibility
         with, States, regulated  industries, environmental
         groups, and the general public.

     While these problems may be more potential than  real
at this time, the likelihood of their becoming  a reality
will increase in the future, as implementation  progresses
in EPA programs.  In addition, programs such as Pesticides
predict a significant increase in identified contamination
incidents in. the future, due to better monitoring of ground
water, and increased pressure for multiple uses of the limited
ground water resource.

C.  What needs to be coord inated?

     In our interviews of EPA managers and. staff, we  found
no consensus on which specific activities related to ground
water need to be coordinated.  This lack of consensus is due
in part to the following factors:

     o  The various Program Offices are not sufficiently
        aware of each other1 s .activities to know whether
        there are conflicts,  inconsistencies, or duplication
       . of effort.   This isolation from the larger Agency
        context is both a result of lack of -coordination and
        information sharing,  and a reflection of the  lack of
        strong incentives to coordinate.


1_ !
1 EPA Piogidiu Offices
•J 1. drinking Hater (ODH)
. /.'" - ~ ~
j_ . (sole source aquifers; UIC;
V • • drinking water standards)
.; V/
..:,.. . —
• •* • -• - — -. • •
2. ttoter Program Cperations (CWPO
(sludgo 6 wststio watsr usft &nd
: • - - - - - - • • - disDOsal

jl - 3- -water enforcement (OWE)
- { - - - -.,.. _, . . -. -
- ' 4; - Solid Haste (OSW)
. -_,.--., ^ - -... (land Disposal of solid and
* . '. . ...... hazardous wastes) • ,
•' ' ' - -.
= -..-:-,. -
- -5i anergency & Remedial
. _• . , ... . Response (OERR)
^ ' (leaky abandoned land
disposal sites)

	 6. - 'pesticides Programs (QPP)
(pesticide use and disposal)
^ - — s
-: t - '
s~ ' '
"7. Radiation Piuguus (ORP)
(radioactive materials use
and disposal)
8. Toxic Substances (COS)
(PCS use and disposal)
Use of dri
of ground
"designation of
sole source
* restriction on
use of federal
dollars for
of facilities
en sole source


, r

sad Areas of lee
end of the
• standards
for drinking

• financial

- -•

• financial &
* enforcement
• direct
action to

jislative Authority
Sources of Pol.
of ground wat
• facility operating
permits _ • .
• enf oroenent
- -

"• financial assistance
• standards •

• enforcement
• facility operating .

° facility, operating "
permits " .._..._.
' enforcement-- -
• standards- . •, _ .
- - * -
r r ". - " " - - • -

0 registration of _
products and
producers" ~
• enforcement
• technical and - ' '
• standards f«ar - -" ' '
disposal . - -
• techncial assistance
• standards
• standards
° enforcement
• product labeling
and exemptions

LUC ion
:er : . " . - - •
_ , • . -
-_;•:• r - - - •_ - '
:-.'.- : : -'-.' — :

• - - - -
- - ~ - -

enf orcenent ~ ^
~ _ •. .. - - - . •
_ - _
1 financial & "
assistance- -
* enforcement
• direct action
to. remove/
• action
. ••
0 technical
• standards -
• technical

- - r
- . - .

. . . .
- - ...
- - :

~ -~ -
r T : .
.- •

f -. — .
"" *•

.' -.-
~ ^ •• •
- •--

     Another kind of program overlap occurs when the activities
or  requirements of  two different programs affect the same
aquifer.  For example, there is the potential for a situation
where  the Agency decides not to clean up a leaking landfill
site,  while drinking water wells on the same aquifer are
being  closed because the water no  longer meets  the standards
of  the Office of Drinking Water (ODW).  It is possible that
spending money to clean up .the leaking landfill in one part
of  the aquifer would reduce resources needed in another part
of  the aquifer to either treat the drinking water or find an
alternate source of drinking water.  EPA might  in this case
apply  different standards or approaches to the  same aquifer.
As  this hypothetical case shows, the activities of one program
could  affect another program's activities or effectiveness
in  dealing with the same aquifer.

     A third area of program overlap occurs when two EPA
programs have standards or activities that address the same
pollutant.  There is a constant tension in this area between
media-specific or source-specific programs that cover a wide
range  of pollutants (e.g., Office of Drinking Water and
Office of Solid Waste), and pollutant-specific programs that
focus  on a single pollutant or single type of pollutant
(e.g., Office of Pesticide Programs, Office of Radiation
Programs, and Office of Toxic Substances).  An .example is
the recent aldicarb contamination of an underground drinking
water  source on Long Island.  The Office of Pesticide Programs
and the Office of Drinking Water responded to that contamination
incident by issuing different estimates of the safety limit
for aldicarb in ground water; the result was conflicting
advice to the State authorities responsible for taking action.
This is a clear case of two Program Offices applying different
standards to the same pollutant.

3.  Duplication of effort
     In the aldicarb case, OPP and ODW conducted separate
assessments of the relative risk of that pesticide in ground
water, and subsequently established different safety limits.
Such action not only resulted in conflicting recommendations,
but also involved an unnecessary duplication of effort.

     There may also be duplication of specialized expertise
across programs.   If an adequate approach to ground water
protection requires staff with training and experience in
hydrogeology, soils, etc., it may be inefficient for such
specialized staff resources to be located in more than one
or two program offices.

 has recently been a similar attempt by technical staff to
 coordinate ground water activities and exchange information.
 The staff set up an inter-program committee, with formal
 agendas and minutes, but the effort stopped after six months
 because it had no authority or support from program managers.

      In general the Agency's coordination efforts have suffered
 from:   (1) inadequate information about pending activities
 of  other offices or of workgroups of interest, in time to
 contribute substantively and make changes; (2) little motiva-
 tion for any office to provide support to another office's
 program; and (3)  no effective means to resolve differences^—;—
 Coordination is a very difficult process to implement effee-   ~
 tively, and is viewed by Program offices an offering.few    ;
 rewards for the time and resources invested.       7"  -. •

 II.  CONCLUSIONS                                       ------   :r
 A.  Approaches to Coordination
  . ..  It is important to remember that the purpose of" estab-
 lishing a mechanism to coordinate Agency ground water activities.
 is to develop a cohesive and consistent approach.to ground water"
 protection throughout the Agency.   Coordination is npt an end  : ;
 in itself, but simply a means to an end.  Equally important,;;
 coordination takes time«and 'resources and, unless carefully ~   "
 designed, and controlled, the process can become burdensome,
 causing delay in meeting other important Agency objectives.  ~

  .    Accordingly,  there are two general approaches the Agency
 can_take to help ensure that the actions of the individual"
 offrciets with ground water responsibilities are consistent—and	
 reflect a cohesive policy:
 1.   Develop  clear and specific guidelines concerning the major
     issues that  affect the decisions and actions of various
    -offices,  combined-with a process to ensure that these
     guidelines are followed.                          .!..'!•"•

12.   Institute a  strong coordinating mechanism to monitor all
     Agency actions related to groundwater and identify and
     resolve  differences and inconsistencies as they occur.

     The  former approach requires more effort initially; in -order
 bo  anticipate and resolve issues before they generate' contradictory
 '•>r. duplicative actions and requirements, but minimizes; the '-;  .  ~~
 jeed for coordination later on.   The latter approach relies
 on  a more elaborate process to achieve the same end, utilizing
 more resources for on-going coordination.

Criteria  for  Effective  Coordination            : •

     Based  on our  interviews,  we have  identified.a number-
of  criteria that are  important for effective C9ordination.
These  apply both in Phase  2  and in the coordination of
onr-going  groundwater  activities, and are relevant regardless
of  the specific mechanism  selected.  Unless these elements.--..
are1 incorporated into a coordination scheme, the:results •  ---
will be less  than  successful.                  - -   - - ^ - -.-.•....
     The Administrator's  continuing  and visible interest-andr;
     support - Without  evidence  that coordination.is of;vital
     interest to  the Administrator,  Program Off ices. are.    _-.'
     unlikely to  take the effort seriously  and-to^invest: the
     resources required to coordinate their actions*£This - -..
     interest is  expressed in  various ways  - the selection
     of a mechanism, the  amount  of resources allocated; to..;
     coordination,  the  questioning of actions that  Ha^ve not
     received the "stamp  of approval" from  the coordinating
     body or are  not in accord with  established. ppjLicy;er4 -  --
     guidelines.  Directives from the Administrator and
     periodic reports can reinforce  the incentives  to keep-—:-
     coordination a high  priority.             __;-.--.  -- - --. : •• ~ .-
o  - -i Accountability - The person  in  charge  of  ensuring thatr:--
-  T-  coordination takes place,  or assigned  to  participate-  -  ?:_-
•••   in coordination activities,  must  be  held  accountable-  -,^-~:
..    for the quality of'his performance.  Coordinating must;---:
     constitute a legitimate part of his  job;  too^ofteB^  3    - -
-     coordination or workgroup  participation has  been  per-
     ceived as extra, and unwelcome, duty.  Several.people
.:    recommended that coordination be  includedcin performance . ,
     standards, both for the AA(s) in  charge and-staff.assigned-
-  > - • to coordination efforts, with measures forejudging -_--._ -
     success clearly defined.                  "   "           .

Q- •  :Resources Commensurate With  Responsibility - Coordination;:
     takes time and resources,  and this must be recognized
     in budget allocations and  in freeing staff time _to.:-^ r " 3 .-.

o -   Conflict Resolution - The  mechanism must  include  a means
     to resolve most conflicts  and disagreements, and  not  ::;:. -.
     continually rely on a higher level for decisions.

o ':-:Process Should Not Become  a  Bottleneck -  The = --_.::  -.-^  : -:
---:-;coordination -process could create significant delays,  _  -,--
     for the programs if it is  too cumbersome  or^is:npt ;kept  r -. -
--•   to a reasonable schedule.  However, coordination does,;   -t-
     take time,.and this should be reflected in-setting   . .
     schedules for program outputs.                 .    '

        5.   Provide central point of contact for external" "groups,~
            including other Federal agencies, States and local
            agencies, industry, and public interest groups.

        6.   Negotiate among programs and with Regions to try to
  :. . •      arrive at consensus on how to resolve substantive
            issues.                               ? --..   -   ':-'-  .

        7.   Resolve conflicts among programs.

  -How to Coordinate                                  T~^—•—:---•-
 .       The activities in Phase 2 involve both management o|;,
=?-the  work process and resolution of substantive issues*' The.
:  .coordination and management mechanisms should include .fehe 1.
:. -. .following elements:                                -'-•. ' -.' ~ A - -
   1.   Lead Office
  -:•    To make  sure that the tasks get completed, there should
   be  one  office assigned the responsibility for coordinating.
  -Phase 2,  with the AA ultimately accountable for its success..
   Two optional  locations for this responsibility, and their
   relative advantages, are as follows:                -:_--=.-
        o  Office of Water
           -  Has historically been involved in the development-
             of  ground water policy in the Agency.    .......
           -  Has experience with, and knowledge of ground water
             issues.                                     .   = •- _ :

           -  Provides continuity with Phase 1.        :.:_•;-   ;..-.

        o   Office of  Policy and Resource Management   -_. = -.-•__.

           -  Is  consistent with OPRM's role of policy review-for,
             the Agency.                                ,	\ -

           -  Can provide  an overall Agency perspective that is
             outside  of a specific program focus.     ~.   ~~T7~

4.  Forum for Cross-Cutting Issues

     Phase 2 must provide a forum for explicit consideration
of how decisions in one program affect other programs.  The
Office Directors Group can provide such a forum.  It will
the responsibility of each Office Director to raise such
cross-cutting issues for discussion, and to suggest solutions,
It will be the responsibility of the Chairperson to make
sure that all appropriate issues are discussed and re solved '.
if possible, and that other groups have access to this
forum—especially for input from Regions and States.__ "_!"_"_'_"..

5.  Resources                                       :  -  i •-.:  :
               Phase 2 will require a commitment of resources commen-=-
          surate with the tasks and responsibilities discussed-:above..---
          Resources will be needed in the following three areas:
               (a)  Coordination task
         "---  We anticipate that the coordination task of- the lead:-  =
         •office will not require a constant level of effort, but will -
          involve a heavy workload at the beginning and end, ;and at.  .;
          certain times during the year, such as during public meetings
          and efforts at conflict resolution on specific issues.  We
          therefore recommend the following resource commitments::::;?^
               o Personnel levels'                          '--==•.

                 - one senior manager (who should not have any competing
                   management responsibilities)                 -  -•--.; ^
                 - two analysts                                    . .-.-.;•
                 - secretarial support

               o Other resources

                 - office space, for central point of contact
                 - travel funds, for conducting public meetings,   -.-  :••-
                   or meetings with Regions or States.             --•=-.-:

               (b) Analytical tasks                             -   ?. - --
               Analytical tasks to be identified will require various
          levels of effort by the participating Program Offices.

          IV.   Options for on-going coordination
                         '          *
               As discussed earlier,  it is premature to establish a
          specific mechanism to meet  on-going coordination needs before
          the  Phase 2  effort has defined these needs.  The Phase 2
          tasks should include design of an on-going means to coordinate
          groundwater  activities when the major elements of the approach
          to groundwater protection are in place.

Reorganize - Programs having the greatest  role  in ground-
water protection could be combined under one  AA.   Consis-
tency would then be within the control of  that  AA.

Designate a "lead AA" — This office would  be  responsible
for ensuring that all actions are consistent  with Agency
policy and are coordinated? the offices would retain     . . .
their current responsibilities. This role  :could be
assigned to a program office, or to OPRM.  This  would..
place responsibility for coordination under one AA,  but.
the level of authority (e.g. decision-making,  vs-.-monitoring
authority) could vary.

Establish a standing committee - There are mariy~optlohs
for structuring a committee with coordinating responai- _ _
bilities.   The mandate of this committee could  .range
-from simple review of actions and information- exchange,,.  :
to  authority to force resolution of issues, vetoing
actions if inconsistencies are not resolved.  Other  :  r ••_.__- •_.
choices include the level of participants  (AAs?  staff?*);"
chairmanship (OW? OPRM? rotating chairmanship among--  -•- = -.-
offices?).	 -       - --   f
                           '•>'• H* i'nviro; *•--• ^« .  r,^. „ ,
                           library, Ro- -..    - ,TTon
                          ^401 M Street, B.wl   -M~^~'A
                           Washington, DC  2Q480