By Kelly N. Garson and Carla N. Hutton
On January 27, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a notification for Project Number OA&E-FY20-0095, announcing that it will begin fieldwork to audit EPA’s adherence to pesticide registration risk assessment regulations, policies, and procedures. In a memorandum addressed to EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), OIG stated that its objective is to evaluate EPA’s ability to address human health and environmental risks prior to pesticide product registration. OIG will conduct the audit from EPA headquarters. According to the memorandum, the anticipated benefits of this audit include determining whether EPA has adequate controls to address human health and environmental risks prior to pesticide product registration.
OIG is an independent office created by the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended. Though located within EPA, Congress funds OIG separately to ensure independence as it conducts activities such as audits and investigations to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of EPA’s operations and programs. Following the audit, OIG will prepare a report that may include recommendations for corrective actions OCSPP should take based upon OIG’s findings. More information on OIG’s previous reports and audit system is available on OIG’s website. Recent OIG reports regarding the implementation of FIFRA include:
- EPA Needs to Determine Strategies and Level of Support for Overseeing State Managed Pollinator Protection Plans (August 2019): Honey bee pollination adds more than $15 billion in value to U.S. agricultural crops each year. According to OIG, the number of managed honey bee colonies in the United States has declined from 5.7 million colonies in the 1940s to 2.7 million colonies in 2015; and
- Tribal Pesticide Enforcement Comes Close to Achieving EPA Goals, but “Circuit Rider” Inspector Guidance Needed (October 2019): OIG states that improvements in the “circuit rider” program can enable EPA better to detect and prevent pesticide misuse and unnecessary risks to human health and the environment in Indian country.