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Audit Initiated of PHMSA’s Progress In Improving Its Special Permits and Approvals Program

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The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), through its Special Permits and Approvals Program, grants approvals for activities allowed under certain conditions identified in the Hazardous Materials Regulations. Individuals and businesses planning to engage in activities that the Regulations do not allow must apply to PHMSA for special permits. In 2009 and 2010, the Office of the Inspector General reported and testified on serious weaknesses in the Program, including how the Agency 1) assessed applicants’ fitness or ability to comply with special permit or approval conditions; 2) evaluated applicants’ proposed safety measures; and 3) coordinated applications with other operating administrations. This audit will determine the extent to which PHMSA has addressed those weaknesses. Our audit objective will be to assess the Agency’s implementation of standard operating procedures for processing special permits and approvals, focusing on fitness, safety, and coordination.