* Q \
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Inspector General
At a Glance
September 25, 2018
Why We Did This Project
We conducted this audit to
determine whether the
U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) has a
comprehensive pesticide
emergency exemption approval
process that maintains
environmental and human
health safeguards.
Under the Federal Insecticide,
Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
(FIFRA), all pesticides
distributed and sold in the
United States must be
registered by the EPA for each
specific use. Per Section 18 of
FIFRA, the EPA can grant
federal and state lead agencies
the authority to approve—in
certain emergency situations—
the limited application of a
pesticide not registered for that
particular use. These short-
term pesticide use approvals
are called emergency
This report addresses the
• Ensuring the safety of
Send all inquiries to our public
affairs office at (202) 566-2391
or visit www.epa.gov/oia.
Listing of OIG reports.
Measures and Management Controls Needed
to Improve EPA's Pesticide Emergency
Exemption Process
What We Found
The EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs
(OPP) does not have outcome measures in
place to determine how well the emergency
exemption process maintains human health
and environmental safeguards. The
program office also does not have comprehensive internal controls to manage
the emergency exemption data it collects. Finally, the OPP does not consistently
communicate emergency exemption information with its stakeholders.
The EPA needs outcome
measures to demonstrate the
benefits or risks of pesticide
emergency exemptions on human
health and the environment.
Specifically, we found that the OPP collects human health and environmental
data through its emergency exemption application process, including the total
acres affected, the proposed and actual quantities of the exempted pesticide
applied, and the estimated economic losses. Yet, we found that the OPP does
not use these data to support outcome-based performance measures that
capture the scope of each exemption or to measure the potential benefits or risks
of each exemption.
We also found significant deficiencies in the OPP's online database
management, in its draft Section 18 emergency exemption standard operating
procedure and application checklist, and in its reports to Congress and the Office
of Management and Budget. Some state lead agencies and extension agents
that we interviewed also reported that additional guidance is needed to support
the preparation of emergency exemption applications, including whether data can
be used from applications submitted by other state lead agencies.
Furthermore, we found that the OPP previously sent a "year in review" letter to
states that summarized the emergency exemption activity for that year and
provided additional information regarding the emergency exemption process.
However, the OPP has not sent this letter since 2015.
Recommendations and Planned Agency Corrective Actions
We recommend that the Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and
Pollution Prevention develop outcome-based performance measures; develop or
update procedures on data collection, database management and the re-use of
data submitted by state lead agencies; and communicate changes to the
emergency exemption processes in a timely manner. Of our eight
recommendations, the EPA agreed with four, neither agreed nor disagreed with
two, and disagreed with two. For three recommendations, the agency proposed
corrective actions that meet the intent of the recommendations. The remaining
five recommendations are unresolved.