• The EPA lost ‘audit trail’ for tracking pesticide registration fees
• Industry fees will go up if legislation is passed this fall
The EPA can’t be certain how much money is in its pesticide registration coffers, and that concerns the agency’s watchdog.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general was unable to properly account for the amount of money—a combination of pesticide industry fees and congressional appropriations—that was collected in fiscal year 2016 because of a “material weakness” that caused the agency to lose track of spending from the fund.
By paying a large part of employees’ paychecks with congressional appropriations—which unlike industry fees, expire at the end of a fiscal year—the EPA “lost the audit trail” to show how much of the payroll expenses were paid for by taxpayers, the IG said in a Aug. 14.
As a result, the inspector general was unable to complete its regular audit of the fund and couldn’t determine whether any adjustments were necessary relating to payroll.
Pesticide manufacturers pay fees to the Pesticides Reregistration and Expedited Processing Fund to help move along the process of reviewing insecticides, weedkillers, disinfectants, and other products for risk to health and the environment. Manufacturers currently contribute up to $27.8 million in maintenance fees to uphold the registrations of their pesticides.
The industry is set to pay 12 percent more in registration fees if the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act is reauthorized this fall.
EPA Working to Fix Accounting
The EPA is in the process of correcting the weaknesses, the report stated.
Pesticide manufacturer Bayer CropScience has been tracking the issues with the pesticide fund, according to Charlotte Sanson, the company’s U.S. head of regulatory affairs.
“We understand that EPA has updated their accounting systems to address this problem and have confidence that the agency has taken the necessary steps to ensure financial accountability,” Sanson told Bloomberg BNA in an email.
The IG released reports in July that addressed fiscal year 2014 and 2015 funding, in which it found that the EPA is sitting on almost $16 million in unobligated pesticide industry fees.
The trade association CropLife America, which represents pesticide manufacturers, told Bloomberg BNA that it is still reviewing the report.