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s 	U.S. Environmental Protection Agency	08-P-0184
June 23, 2008
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Office of Inspector General
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At a Glance
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Catalyst for Improving the Environment
Why We Did This Review
We conducted an audit of the
Colonias Wastewater
Treatment Assistance Program
(CWTAP) because of the large
unliquidated obligation
balance in the program almost
a decade after the last grant
had been awarded. Our audit
objective was: Has the U.S.
Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) provided the
oversight necessary to ensure
that the Texas Water
Development Board manages
CWTAP grants so that funds
are drawn properly and
projects are completed on
From Fiscal Years 1993
through 1999, EPA awarded
assistance agreements (grants)
totaling $300 million to the
Texas Water Development
Board for water infrastructure
improvements along the
border in poor, under-
developed, unincorporated
areas called colonias.
For further information,
contact our Office of
Congressional and Public
Liaison at (202) 566-2391.
To view the full report,
click on the following link:
Millions of Federal Dollars Remain
for Colonias Projects
What We Found
Nearly 10 years after EPA Region 6 awarded the last CWTAP grant to the Texas
Water Development Board (the Board), $78 million still has not been spent. The
Region has taken some positive steps to address unliquidated obligations in the
CWTAP, such as working with the Board to establish a schedule for using the
remaining funds. However, Region 6's oversight of the program has been
hindered because work plans lacked project details and operating agreements did
not specify corrective actions.
If Region 6 does not improve its oversight of the program, the funds will probably
not be fully spent by the current CWTAP grant fund drawdown projection of
2010. Every delay in disbursing CWTAP funds reduces the purchasing power of
those grant dollars and delays needed improvements in public health and quality
of life.
EPA has taken action to address similar issues with more recent grants awarded
under the current U.S.-Mexico Border Program. In August 2007, the Office of
the Chief Financial Officer issued a policy to address funds administration and
provide guidance on appropriate monitoring targets. The goal of this policy is to
optimize project completion rates, clarify program oversight, and reduce
unliquidated balances related to the grant program. EPA needs to adopt a similar
process for the CWTAP program, to ensure that project delays will not further
delay disbursing federal funds and completion of projects.
What We Recommend
We recommend that the Regional Administrator for Region 6:
1.	Amend the workplans and/or operating agreements for the open CWTAP
grants to include specific projects, schedules, and dollar amounts.
2.	Develop and implement a policy, similar to what is contained in the Office of
the Chief Financial Officer's 2007 EPA Policy for the U.S.-Mexico Border
Program, which specifies a process for taking corrective actions when
projects are delayed.
EPA concurred with our recommendations and provided timeframes for taking
corrective actions.