• This page, Audit of the Department of Environmental Protection Objectives, Scope, and Methodology, is offered by
  • Office of the State Auditor

Audit of the Department of Environmental Protection Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

An overview of the purpose and process of auditing the Department of Environmental Protection.

Table of Contents

Overview

In accordance with Section 12 of Chapter 11 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Office of the State Auditor has conducted a performance audit of certain activities of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the period July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019.

We conducted this performance audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives.

Below is a list of our audit objectives, indicating each question we intended our audit to answer, the conclusion we reached regarding each objective, and where each objective is discussed in the audit findings.

Objective

Conclusion

  1. Did DEP ensure that annual reports and certified biennial plans were submitted on time by all companies that were required to submit them under the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA)?

No; see Finding 2

  1. Did DEP comply with the requirements of Sections 106, 303(d), and 305(b) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to report biennially on the impairment of waters and elimination of pollutants and to report annually on water quality information?

No; see Finding 1

To achieve our audit objectives, we gained an understanding of the internal controls we determined to be relevant to our audit objectives by reviewing applicable laws, regulations, and agency policies and procedures, as well as conducting interviews with DEP’s staff and management.

Additionally, we performed the procedures described below.

Data Reliability

We assessed the reliability of the data obtained from the eDEP system;7 the assessment included interviewing knowledgeable personnel at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and DEP about the system and testing the data for duplicate records and report dates outside our audit period. We tested eDEP’s controls, which included security management and access control, and determined whether configuration management and contingency planning policies were in place during the audit period.

As a result of our data reliability analysis and information system control testing, we found that the data in eDEP were reliable for the purposes of our audit objectives.

TURA

From eDEP, we obtained all plan and report submissions to DEP for reporting years 2016 and 2017. With these data, we performed the following tests:

  • We selected a nonstatistical, judgmental sample of 60 toxics use reduction (TUR) reports for reporting years 2016 and 2017 from a population of 938. We reviewed the reports to ensure the following:
     
    • that each report was filed by July 1 of the following year under Section 50.32(1) of Title 310 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR)
       
    • that each report contained one completed Form S, required under 310 CMR 50.32(11), and one completed Form R or A, whichever was required under the same regulation.
  • We selected a nonstatistical, random sample of 40 biennial TUR plans from a population of 433. We reviewed whether each plan was approved by a certified TUR planner as required by 310 CMR 50.42(3).
     
  • We tested whether all facilities that submitted TUR reports for reporting year 2016 also submitted reports for reporting year 2017. If a 2017 TUR report was not on file for a facility, we reviewed DEP’s supporting documentation that substantiated that a filing was not necessary for reporting year 2017.
     
  • We tested whether all facilities that submitted TUR reports for reporting year 2017 also submitted the required biennial TUR plan summaries during 2017 under 310 CMR 50.47. If a facility did not submit the required biennial TUR plan summary during 2017, we determined whether DEP detected the lack of filing and whether it attempted to ascertain why no report was filed in 2017.

When sampling, we used a nonstatistical sampling method, whose results we could not project to the entire population.

Watershed Planning Program—Quality Assurance Program Plan

To determine whether DEP complied with the reporting requirements of Sections 305(b) and 303(d) of the CWA, we requested from DEP a copy of its 2018 Integrated List of Waters Report (submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], which refers to it as an Integrated Report) to verify that the report complied with EPA requirements and was submitted in a timely manner.

To determine whether DEP complied with the reporting requirements of Section 106 of the CWA, we requested DEP’s 2018 annual updated submission of water quality data to the Water Quality Exchange network.8

7.     eDEP is DEP’s online filing system used by the public to submit reports, certifications, data, and permits to DEP.

8.     The Water Quality Exchange is the portal on EPA’s website that states use to submit water monitoring data to EPA.

Date published: June 15, 2020
Feedback