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Federal Government Drops DDOE “High-Risk” Status

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has removed the District Department of the Environment (DDOE)’s “high-risk grantee” status. EPA had attached this designation in 2003 to what was then part of the Department of Health.

High-risk grantee status imposes strict financial reporting conditions on agencies that receive federal funds from EPA and have had performance or reporting problems. DDOE staff began working to meet these conditions immediately after the agency came into being in 2007.

“By improving its status with EPA, the Department of the Environment has set a great example for the entire District Government,” said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. “When they’re dealing with taxpayer dollars, our agencies should be as responsible and accountable as possible.”

An EPA auditor visited DDOE to review the department’s procedures for tracking and spending its federal grants. Because of the auditor’s favorable report, EPA lifted DDOE’s high-risk status.

"EPA supports the District with about $8 million in grants each year to address the city's environmental health priorities," said William T. Wisniewski, acting administrator for EPA's mid-Atlantic region.  "We'll see better accountability and efficient spending of this federal funding now that D.C.'s Environmental Department has accomplished improvements to its financial systems."

“The monitoring and oversight that came with high-risk status have made us a better agency,” said DDOE Director George S. Hawkins. “Even though we won’t be subject to such strict controls anymore, our goal is to make even more effective use of federal grant funds in the future.