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Digital Modernization

GAO Report: EPA’s Pollution Monitoring Systems Outdated, Difficult to Use

IT modernization

GAO Report: EPA’s Pollution Monitoring Systems Outdated, Difficult to Use

The Government Accountability Office said the Environmental Protection Agency needs to modernize two systems used to monitor air pollution across the United States.

According to a GAO report released on Sept. 29, EPA’s Air Quality System and AirNow system are outdated and riddled with user experience and upgradeability issues. GAO also found it difficult to access data from the two systems while EPA acknowledged that the systems provided different results for similar problem sets.

The environmental agency said it intended to update the systems but other priorities and funding delays relegated modernization efforts, Nextgov/FCW reported Tuesday.

The oversight body recommended that EPA identify factors for evaluating if IT systems are ready for retirement or replacement, document an operational analysis for AQS and AirNow and develop a business case for a new IT system to address challenges faced by the outdated platforms. EPA agreed to two recommendations but contended that it needs oversight assistance for IT systems evaluation.

GAO’s findings build on other technology-related shortcomings EPA faces. In July, the agency’s Office of the Inspector General said the EPA lacked resources to identify and address over 20,000 network vulnerabilities. The OIG noted that leaving the issues unaddressed puts computers at risk of denial-of-service attacks and other hacking instances.