PHMSA's Inadequate Management and Oversight of Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Grants Limited the Program's Effectiveness
On January 12, 2012, we issued a report on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) management and oversight of its Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Grants Program. We found that PHMSA does not have sufficient policies and processes—and until recently, resources—to effectively execute the Program. For example, PHMSA relies on an outdated methodology for allocating grant funds that does not consider grantee needs. We also found that, until recently, PHMSA did not proactively or effectively reach out to or coordinate with grantees to enhance their approaches to emergency planning and training. Finally, we found that PHMSA’s oversight is lacking, which has resulted in misused grant funds due to improper payments and erroneously advanced funds. For example, we identified more than $1 million in improperly distributed grant funds that were not used or needed. We note that PHMSA developed a comprehensive action plan in March 2011 to address the deficiencies of the Program. We made 10 recommendations to PHMSA to improve its management and oversight of the Program. Based on PHMSA’s response, we consider two of them closed and seven addressed but open pending completion of planned actions. However, we are requesting that PHMSA reconsider its position regarding our recommendation on grant reallocation.