Compliance Incentives and Auditing
EPA promotes compliance with environmental laws and regulations through its use of compliance incentives with the regulated community. EPA's Audit Policy, Small Business Policy, and Small Community Policy and the incentive programs developed in association with them are designed to reduce or eliminate penalties under certain conditions for those entities that voluntarily discover and promptly disclose and correct environmental violations.
The EPA Audit Policy, "Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations," has been in effect since 1995. It safeguards human health and the environment by providing incentives for regulated entities to come into compliance with the federal environmental laws and regulations. The policy was designed to provide major incentives for regulated entities that voluntarily discover, promptly disclose, and expeditiously correct noncompliance, rendering formal EPA investigation and enforcement action unnecessary. Given that most federal agencies have internal auditing programs to determine the compliance of their facilities, federal facilities are well poised to take full advantage of the Audit Policy. The Audit Policy reflects the input of industry, trade associations, state environmental program practitioners, and public interest groups.
Audit protocols assist the regulated community in developing programs at individual facilities to evaluate their compliance with environmental requirements under federal law. The protocols are intended solely as guidance in this effort. The regulated community's legal obligations are determined by the terms of applicable environmental facility-specific permits and underlying statutes and applicable state and local law.
In addition to the statutory specific audit protocols above, EPA published the Environmental Audit Program Design Guidelines for Federal Agencies (EPA 300-B-96-011) (Spring 1997) (PDF) (126 pp, 1MB About PDF).
For more compliance incentives and auditing programs information, please also visit FedCenter, a comprehensive environmental stewardship and compliance assistance center for federal agencies.