Detailed Information on the
Superfund Remedial Action Assessment

Program Code 10002292
Program Title Superfund Remedial Action
Department Name Environmental Protection Agy
Agency/Bureau Name Environmental Protection Agency
Program Type(s) Direct Federal Program
Assessment Year 2004
Assessment Rating Adequate
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 80%
Strategic Planning 75%
Program Management 86%
Program Results/Accountability 27%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $585
FY2008 $600
FY2009 $595

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Implement the recommendations of the Agency's 120-day study on management of the Superfund program.

Action taken, but not completed Interim Steps: Address 75% of 108 recommendations by December 2005; Close out approximately 20% of remaining recommendations by December 2006; Close out additional recommendations during 2007 and 2008; Close out remaining recommendations (#40, #78 - 83 and #98) by December 2010. Fall 07 Update: EPA has completed 92 percent (99 of 108) of the recommendations. By Jan 08, the Agency expects to have 103 recommendations completed. The final action item is projected to be completed by Dec 10.

Modernize the program's data repository (CERCLIS) to ensure accurate and complete information on program performance and financial management.

Action taken, but not completed Steps: (1) Link Institutional Control Tracking System and Superfund Doc Management System with CERCLIS in ReportLink Aug 08. (2) Conclude Report Link standard conventions to enable regions to share reports Dec 08; and (3) Conclude monitoring phase of report usage; identify reports used regularly Nov 08. Fall Update: Completed (1) Enhance and centralize sorting capability in Report Link remove duplicative reports; devise standard reports Dec 07; new step (1) above. On track (2) and (3).

Conduct regional program reviews to share and implement best practices among regional offices that will improve the program's overall performance and efficiency. Specific areas for study will be identified.

No action taken Interim steps: (1) conduct ten reviews (one per region) in calendar years 2008 (5 reviews) and 2009 (5 reviews); (2) complete baseline of program practices and performance by the end of 2009; (3) implement identified best practices by Sep 2010; and (4) complete measurement of program performance improvement and efficiency gains by Sep 2011.

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Validate the reporting method for performance data and develop a new Superfund cleanup efficiency measure.

Completed Interim steps: (1) finalize methodology for efficiency measure by May 2006; (2) establish baseline for efficiency measure by November 2006; (3) determine FY 2007 targets for efficiency measure by December 2006; (4) report FY 2007 results for efficiency measure by November 2007. Spring 2007 Update: Methodology for efficiency measure finalized, baseline established using FY 2006 data, plan to report FY 2007 results in November 2007.

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Superfund sites with human health protection achieved (exposure pathways are eliminated or potential exposures are under health-based levels for current use of land or water resources).

Explanation:Environmental indicator tracking the elimination or control of human exposure pathways at National Priority List (NPL) sites. In 2005, the baseline was revised to reflect improvements in data accuracy. The 2005 baseline of 1,230 sites represents 80% of NPL sites. Results include Federal Facility sites which are also tracked separately for EPA's Federal Facility PART.

Year Target Actual
2002 Baseline 1199
2005 Revised Baseline 1230
2008 1260
2011 1290
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Superfund sites with contaminated groundwater migration under control.

Explanation:Environmental indicator tracking the elimination or control of migration of groundwater at National Priority List (NPL) sites. The 2002 baseline is 772 sites representing 61% of NPL sites.

Year Target Actual
2002 Baseline 772
2005 802 898
2008 933
2011 978
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Acres of land ready for reuse.

Explanation:Declaring any parcel of land at a Superfund site to be available for reuse is a site-specific determination made by field personnel as a result of a review of the particular conditions at the site and the risk posed to human health and the environment by contaminants at the sites.

Annual Efficiency

Measure: Percentage of Superfund spending that is obligated to individual sites each year.

Explanation:By measuring the percentage of resources that are annually obligated site-specifically, EPA is better able to account for the use of resources to achieve cleanups on a yearly basis. This measure will be replaced in 2007 with a measure focused on cleanup efficiency.

Year Target Actual
2005 Baseline 54.3
2006 54.8 53.1
Annual Output

Measure: Annual number of Superfund sites with remedy construction completed.

Explanation:Tracks National Priority List sites at which physical construction of all cleanup actions is complete, all immediate threats to human health have been mitigated and all long-term threats are under control. Includes Federal Facility sites which are also tracked separately for EPA's Federal Facility PART.

Year Target Actual
2003 40 40
2004 40 40
2005 40 40
2006 40 40
2007 24 24
2008 30
2009 35
Annual Output

Measure: Final Site Assessment Decisions completed

Explanation:Beginning in 2006, this measure no longer includes site assessment decisions for sites addressed under the emergency removal process. It includes only site assessment decisions made for sites addressed under the remedial action process.

Year Target Actual
2003 475 917
2004 500 548
2005 500 551
2006 419 518
2007 350 395
2008 272
2009 248
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Human exposures under control per million dollars.

Explanation:This measure will replace the current efficiency measure beginning FY 2007.

Year Target Actual
2007 6.1 6.9
2008 6.4
2009 6.7

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: The purpose of the Superfund Remedial Program is to protect human health and the environment by cleaning up abandoned and contaminated properties and responding to releases of hazardous substances into the environment. EPA statutory authority to achieve this mission is clear. Section 121 of CERCLA specifies that Superfund's cleanups shall be protective of human health and the environment, as well as meet cleanup standards outlined in other Federal environmental statutes. The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), the governing regulation for the Superfund program, establishes clear program expectations for cleaning sites to levels protective of human health and the environment.

Evidence: EPA FY 2003 ' 2008 Strategic Plan CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. section 9604 (Response authorities) CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. section 9606 (Abatement actions) CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. section 9621 (Cleanup standards) NCP, 40 C.F.R. section 300.430

YES 20%

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest or need?

Explanation: Uncontrolled releases at Superfund hazardous waste sites may threaten human health, the environment, and the economic vitality of local communities. When responsible parties are not identifiable or financially viable, or when the responsible parties are federal government entities, or when releases affect more than one State, the States may not have the capacity or authority necessary to address these threats.

Evidence: Sites currently listed on the NPL include 158 federal facilities sites and 1,078 non-federal sites that require federal attention.

YES 20%

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: By design, the Superfund Remedial Program is a program of last resort which addresses, via the National Priorities List (NPL), the Nation's most contaminated sites. Before adding a site to the NPL, EPA goes to great lengths to ensure that all other avenues of cleanup have been considered, including: (1) working with states to determine if they have sufficient authority and capacity to address the sites themselves, (2) engaging with potentially responsible parties (including other federal agencies) to determine if they can implement cleanup activities without having to resort to NPL listing, and (3) assessing whether other federal authorities may be used to conduct the cleanup rather than CERCLA. Sites are listed on the NPL only after careful evaluation of the hazards posed, determination that no other entity can or will address the situation, and after receipt of a state 'Governor's Concurrence Letter' supporting the listing.

Evidence: CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. section 9620 (Federal Facilities); CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. section 9622 (Authority to Enter into Agreements); NCP, 40 C.F.R. Part 300, Subpart F (State Involvement in Hazardous Substance Response); CERCLA 101(39)(B)(ii) (NPL exclusion from Brownfields program) H.R.3019 Omnibus Appropriations and Rescissions Bill for FY 1996, Amendment 74; 11/14/96 Memo 'Coordinating with the States on National Priorities List Decisions;' 7/25/97 Memo 'Coordinating with the States on National Priorities List Decisions; ASTSWMO Cooperative Agreement Proposal; One Cleanup Program Index;

YES 20%

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: There is no strong evidence that a different program design would be more efficient or effective than the current one. The Superfund Remedial program solicits and promotes active involvement of states, tribes, responsible parties and other stakeholders. Superfund has been the focus of many examinations of its performance over the years, both internal and external. Despite the open forum for discussion of such alternatives, there have been thus far no overall design changes proposed by stakeholders or other groups. Similarly the program's numerous audits and other reviews have similarly not pointed out design flaws.

Evidence: Superfund Reforms Overview FY 2003 GAO Report: 'Superfund: Information on EPA's Administrative Reforms.' John Quarles and Michael Steinberg, 'The Superfund Program at its 20th Anniversary.' 'A Chemical Industry Perspective on EPA's Superfund Administrative Reforms.' GAO Report: 'Superfund: Extent to Which Most Reforms Have Improved the Program is Unknown.' (p.6) NAPA, 'Environment.gov: Transforming Environmental Protection for the 21st Century.'

YES 20%

Is the program effectively targeted, so that resources will reach intended beneficiaries and/or otherwise address the program's purpose directly?

Explanation: The Superfund Remedial Program is targeted to address only sites on the NPL, the Nation's most contaminated sites that are of federal interest due to their potential risk. NPL sites are prioritized in the NPL listing process, under which sites are listed only after careful evaluation of the hazards posed, determination that no other entity can or will address the situation, and after receipt of a state 'Governors Concurrence Letter' supporting the listing. However, a large portion of overall Superfund resources are not charged to individual sites/operations. There is not sufficient evidence to find that resources charged for program management, policy and administrative support directly address program purpose.

Evidence: National Remedy Review Board website homepage National Risk-Based Priority Panel website homepage Fact Sheet, 'Site Assessment ' Regulatory Aspects.' Fact Sheet, 'NPL Candidates Priority Categories.' 'Site Assessment: The Big Picture.' Resources for the Future, Report to Congress, 2001. 'Superfund's Future: What Will It Cost?'

NO 0%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 80%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: The Superfund Remedial Program has two long-term outcome-based performance measures that support clean up and reuse of contaminated land: Human Exposures Under Control and Groundwater Migration Under Control. These measures track progress in controlling all unacceptable human exposure contaminant pathways at sites listed on the NPL. Beginning in FY 2004, the Program also tracks Acres of Land Ready for Reuse.

Evidence: The measures are listed in EPA's 2003-2008 Strategic Plan as a strategic target to track progress on the proposed goal-objective of "Restore Land." Superfund Program Implementation Manual (SPIM) SCAP 15 Report

YES 12%

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: The targets for existing measures do not appear to be ambitious based on the actual results reported for 2003 which are more than two times the target in subsequent years, but the agency is still assessing the accuracy of the actual results for this recently-implemented measure. The proposed targets currently are under review and will be finalized after two years of actual results have been collected. The program is developing baselines and targets for new measures.

Evidence: See Measures tab for targets and actuals results.

NO 0%

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that can demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term goals?

Explanation: The program has an annual outcome performance measure and a new output efficiency measure. The annual outcome measure tracks the number of sites with remedy construction completed. An additional output measure tracks the number of final site assessment decisions completed.

Evidence: The outcome measure is listed in EPA's 2003-2008 Strategic Plan as a strategic target to track progress on the proposed goal-objective of "Restore Land." Superfund Program Implementation Manual (SPIM) SCAP 15 Report

YES 12%

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures?

Explanation: The target for the outcome performance measure that assesses the number of Superfund sites with remedy construction completed is ambitious given the reported increase of large and complex sites. The targets for the output measure do not appear to be ambitious, but the agency is still assessing the accuracy of the actual results for this recently-implemented measure.

Evidence: See Measures tab for targets and actuals results.

YES 12%

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation: State-lead Superfund projects report on performance related to the long-term and annual goals. A new interim policy initiated in February 2004 requires all assistance agreements, e.g., grants and cooperative agreements, to describe how the program/project work plan supports the goals of the Agency's Strategic Plan. By the end of FY06, the program expects that all Superfund Remedial Action cooperative agreements will be in compliance with the policy.

Evidence: Superfund Program Implementation Manual (SPIM) Performance Standard Element for Grants and Contracts

YES 12%

Are independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: The Superfund Program is often evaluated by independent, outside parties. Superfund has been the subject of multiple IG and GAO audits of the Program since 1990. Although independent evaluations have been conducted for the program, the assessment methodologies do not meet the quality criteria for determining the impact of the program.


NO 0%

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: The Agency estimates and budgets for the full annual costs of operating its programs, taking into consideration any changes in funding, policy and legislative changes. All spending categories and the resource levels and activities associated with them are included in the annual Congressional Justification. Presentation to Congress of the Agency's budget, including resources for the Superfund program, includes alignment to its Strategic Plan goals. The program is able to show how changes in funding relate to changes in performance.

Evidence: Annual Congressional Justification Budget Automation System (BAS) reports. Example provided for marginal cost of new construction start under Superfund.

YES 12%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: The Superfund program is developing a new measure, Current and Long-Term Human Exposure Control (an expanded version of the Human Exposure Under Control measure), to better capture the exposure control benefits of all cleanup activities - from the earliest emergency removals to the long-term remediation projects. An ecological risk reduction indicator is also being developed, in conjunction with the RCRA program, to measure the degree to which the selected remedy protects the ecological receptors from contaminants at the site. Potential outcome efficiency measures are the focus of an ongoing feasibility study. The new Grants Management Policy requiring linkage of grantee activities with performance goals is being implemented this year.

Evidence: Measure Implementation Plans ATSDR 'Agency Vision, Mission and Strategic Goals.' Office of Grants and Debarment Interim Policy, February 2004.

YES 12%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 75%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: The Superfund Remedial Program collects performance information through the use of several interlocking systems (SPIM, SCAP, and CERCLIS/WasteLAN) designed as tools for Superfund program managers. Although well designed for program management, the official data repository (CERCLIS) has been evaluated by the OIG and found to have significant data quality issues that adversely affect accuracy and completeness of the data. The program does not agree with key OIG findings but does have significant efforts underway to modernize and improve CERCLIS.

Evidence: Superfund Program Implementation Manual (SPIM) SCAP 15 Report OIG Report, March 2003, "Annual Superfund Report to Congress"

NO 0%

Are Federal managers and program partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: Managers' performance is tied to goals, and their performance standards will be further refined to track annual performance goals. Work assignment managers track the cost and performance of contractor program partners through the invoice and monthly progress reports. In addition, managers participate in evaluating contractor performance annually including a review of previous activities to ensure that the performance promised was delivered.

Evidence: HQ EPA Performance Plan OSTRI/RMD 2004 Performance Standard Element for Grants and Contracts OSWER Post-Award Monitoring Checklist for Grants EPA Project Officer Post-Award Evaluation Protocol ' Background Information

YES 14%

Are funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?

Explanation: Advice of Allowance (AOA) funds are distributed to EPA Regions quarterly and fully obligated each year for Superfund remedial work. At Midyear, Senior Superfund Management work closely with other managers to ensure funds will be obligated in a timely manner, as well as making decisions about low utilization rates, to determine if they need to shift funds to be better utilized for other projects. During the July/August timeframe, the utilization rate is also monitored quite closely to determine the availability and frequency with which funds are being obligated, to ensure deadlines will be met for the obligation of funds by 9/30. Each Region's grant's management office, conducts post-award monitoring of assistance agreements that tracks the draw-down of funds and enables them to assess the timeliness of resource obligations and commitments. Regular progress reports and audits of State programs demonstrate that funds are used for the intended purpose.

Evidence: In the Superfund Remedial Program, funds were 99.9% obligated in FY 2001 - 2003. Example progress reports and audit reports.

YES 14%

Does the program have procedures (e.g. competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, appropriate incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: All of the Superfund Remedial program classes of contracts are awarded under the competitive procedures outlined in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) The program has issued several major performance contracts and developed models for performance-based Statements of Work to be used in future contracts. The program monitors contract costs for program management versus direct costs and contractors are evaluated under an award fee mechanism on how well management costs are controlled.

Evidence: FAR Part 6, Part 36.6. Contract Laboratory Program contact is an example performance-based contract.

YES 14%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: The program's coordination with NGOs and tribal associations facilitates coordination and communication with state and tribal cleanup programs. To coordinate with other cleanup authorities, EPA Regions have mechanisms in place (e.g., Regional Decision Teams [RDTs]) that meet on major sites to determine the appropriate disposition for sites (e.g., best program or combination of programs to address each site). The Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable is an interagency effort that promotes innovative technologies for remediation at all types of hazardous waste sites. A new initiative called the 'One Clean-up Program (OCP)" focuses on finding ways to enhance consistency across all waste cleanup programs nationwide.

Evidence: Factsheet entitled, 'Summary of Regional Decision Teams Information.' (05/19/03) ASTSWMO Cooperative Agreement Proposal One Cleanup Program website homepage. Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable publications.

YES 14%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: The program follows EPA's financial management guidelines for committing, obligating, reprogramming, and reconciling appropriated funds. Agency officials have a system of controls and accountability, based on GAO and other principles, to ensure that improper payments are not made. At each step in the process, the propriety of the payment is reviewed. EPA trains individuals to ensure that they understand their roles and responsibilities for invoice review and for carrying out the financial aspects of program objectives. EPA received an unqualified audit opinion on its FY02 financial statements and the Superfund program had no material weaknesses associated with the audit.

Evidence: Annual Congressional Justification. Budget Automation System (BAS) reports. Unqualified audit opinion on EPA FY02 financial statements. Fiscal Year 2002 Advice of Allowance Letter. 2002 Integrity Act Report.

YES 14%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: FY 2003, SF reported no new control weaknesses and reported progress on four management improvement efforts: Pipeline Management Review, CERCLIS Modernization, Management of Contract and Assistance Agreements, and NACEPT Dialogue. A past criticism leveled at the Superfund Program was that the percentage of total contract costs expended for program management in its remedial contracts was too high. To remedy this, the Program took aggressive steps between 1997 and 2002 to reduce these costs from a high of 14.6% down to 5.9%. Reorganization efforts in 2003: (1) consolidated resource management functions in one division for centralized oversight and efficiencies; (2) incorporated technology innovation efforts with cleanup support; (3) consolidated regional support functions for more consistent oversight of regional activities; and (4) created a central focus for science policy issues to focus on appropriate research needs and consistent applications.

Evidence: Federal Manager's Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA) FY 2003 Annual Report. Pipeline Management Review. CERCLIS Modernization: OMB Briefing May 1, 2003. Post-Award Assistance Agreement Reviews for 2004. Program Support Percentage Actuals through March 2003. NACEPT Report Draft

YES 14%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 86%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term performance goals?

Explanation: The program achieves its targets for existing measures, but has one long-term measure under development. The agency is still assessing the accuracy of the actual results for recently-implemented measures.

Evidence: Summarized in measures tab. EPA Annual GPRA Performance Report


Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: The program achieves its targets for the annual performance measures, but does not have results for an acceptable efficiency measure. The agency is still assessing the accuracy of the actual results for recently-implemented measures.

Evidence: Summarized in measures tab. EPA Annual GPRA Performance Report


Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?

Explanation: While Superfund does not yet have data on its new efficiency measure, the Program still can show improved efficiencies over the past year as a result of program initiatives undertaken to ensure resources are used most efficiently. The Field and Analytical Services Teaming Advisory Committee (FASTAC) (Regional and HQ managers) improved existing analytical services for Superfund by revamping the Contract Laboratory Program (CLP). The Superfund Program has implemented over 60 reforms to make the program faster, fairer, and more efficient. These reforms have touched on all aspects of the program, from enforcement to innovative technologies to public involvement to risk assessment and cleanup. To date, the implementation of these reforms has resulted in a cost savings of approximately $1.7 billion in cleanup costs. Each reform has been institutionalized within the Superfund program.

Evidence: Contract Laboratory Program contact is an example performance-based contract. Spreadsheets tracking reductions in overhead costs of prime contractors. Calculation of savings from new CLP contract. Examples of memoranda reporting on progress of reforms implementation and cost savings.


Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: Except for limited comparisons to State Superfund programs, there has not been a comparative evaluation of the Superfund program and other waste cleanup programs. Evidence provided to date does not address the question of whether the federal program does as well as or better at meeting performance goals than State or PRP-led cleanups.


NO 0%

Do independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: Although evaluations have been performed, they do not meet the criteria for independence, scope and quality.


NO 0%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 27%

Last updated: 09062008.2004SPR