EPA’s Office of Inspector General Issues Report on Needed Improvements to FIFRA Section 18 Emergency Exemption Process
On September 25, 2018, EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report summarizing the conclusions of its audit of the Agency’s FIFRA Section 18 pesticide emergency exemption process. Section 18 of FIFRA allows the Agency to grant federal and state agencies the authority to approve the limited application of an unregistered pesticide not currently registered for that use in the event of a serious pest problem that jeopardizes production of agricultural goods, the environment, or public health and for which there are inadequate tools to address the situation. The regulations governing implementation of FIFRA Section 18 establish four types of emergency exemptions (specific, quarantine, public health and crisis) with different time periods allowed for each.
In its report, the OIG concluded that while EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) collects human health and environmental data through its emergency exemption process, it does not use this data to capture outcome measures that would demonstrate how well the emergency exemption process maintains human health and environmental safeguards. In addition, the OIG found that OPP does not have comprehensive internal controls to manage the emergency exemption data it collects and cited specific deficiencies in the Agency’s online public database, internal guidance documents, and its annual progress reports to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Congress. Finally, OIG determined that the OPP does not consistently communicate emergency exemption information with its stakeholders.
The OIG recommended that EPA’s 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 process in a timely manner. The full OIG report, including EPA’s response to the recommendations contained in the report, may be accessed by clicking here.