Compliance Incentives and Auditing Basic Information
Innovations - EPA is committed to exploring new and creative ways of achieving environmental results and making them a routine part of our work. EPA has adopted a problem solving approach to address environmental problems that involves using several tools - ranging from compliance assistance to incentives and auditing to compliance monitoring to civil enforcement to criminal enforcement . EPA uses a number of innovative tools as part of its core program to ensure compliance.
Auditing - The EPA Audit Policy, "Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations", has been in effect since 1995. It reflects input from industry, trade associations, state environmental programs, and public interest groups. The Audit Policy is designed to provide incentives for regulated entities to come into compliance with the federal environmental laws and regulations. These incentives are for regulated entities that voluntarily discover, promptly disclose and expeditiously correct noncompliance, making formal EPA investigations and enforcement actions unnecessary.
Environmental Management Systems (EMS) - What is an Environmental Management System (EMS)? The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines environmental management systems as "that part of the overall practices, procedures, processes and resources for developing, implementing, achieving, reviewing and maintaining the environmental policy." EMS focuses on environmental management practices rather than the activities themselves. It provides the structure by which certain activities can be carried out; it ensures operator training and that proper procedures are in place but doesn't specify methods or frequency of sampling. The EMS allows Federal agencies and facilities flexibility to adapt the system to their needs and priorities.
Pollution Prevention - The goal of the Pollution Prevention Act is to stop pollution and waste before it is created. EPA's pollution prevention (P2) program is designed to help get pollution prevention concepts and principles into the daily operations of government agencies, businesses, manufacturers, nonprofit organizations, and individuals.
Small Business - The Small Business Compliance Policy (PDF) (5 pp, 256K, About PDF) promotes environmental compliance among small businesses (those with 100 or fewer employees) by providing incentives to discover and correct environmental problems. EPA will eliminate or significantly reduce penalties for small businesses that voluntarily discover violations of environmental law and promptly disclose and correct them. ) This Policy implements section 223 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996. ( Additional SBREFA Information ).
Small Community - Small communities and small local government often have more difficulty complying with environmental regulations than larger local governments do. They disproportionately face challenges related to technical, managerial and financial capacity that can result in environmental violations despite their best efforts. Small local governments may not have trained environmental professionals on staff. Their part-time elected officials may be unaware of environmental requirements that apply to governmental operations. If told they are in noncompliance, they may not know how to correct their problems.
Compliance Incentives Program Offices
The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) is the national lead for compliance incentives activities. OECA's Office of Civil Enforcement, Office of Compliance, and Federal Facilities Enforcement Office are also involved in compliance incentives activities.