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SUBJECT: Compliance Screening Process for Project XL

FROM: Steven A. Herman
Assistant Administrator
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance

TO: Jay Benforado
Acting Associate Administrator
Office of Reinvention

Following the recent reexamination of our policies on compliance screening for the Agency's voluntary programs, it is useful to restate and expand on the compliance screening policy for potential Project XL project sponsors and how this information will be used within the XL processes. This memo attaches guidance on the scope, criteria and process for conducting enforcement screens to determine the eligibility of XL applicants, and for updating those screens prior to high-visibility public events, a chart providing an easy reference to specific screening elements discussed in the guidance, and a list of both Headquarters and Regional office contacts for conducting screens and for discussing screening results. This guidance document supersedes OECA's earlier screening guidance: "Compliance Screening Process for Project XL," dated October 31, 1995. This guidance is consistent with and is the XL program-specific application of the Agency's comprehensive screening framework, "Compliance Screening for EPA Partnership Programs."

We recognize that the Project XL initiative is largely prospective in nature and intended to provide participating facilities with an opportunity to develop innovative approaches to environmental protection which, if successful, would serve as an indication of similar projects' potential to reduce regulatory burdens and enhance environmental performance on a national scale. In contrast, a compliance screen is largely retrospective because it focuses on the potential participant's federal environmental enforcement history, as well as its current enforcement status. While a potential participant's past record is not necessarily an indicator of future performance, the participant's overall compliance history is relevant: The participant's compliance history informs EPA's decision regarding the likelihood of the participant's ability to achieve superior environmental results in Project XL, as well as the appropriateness of providing the participant with any regulatory flexibility sought.

The primary purpose of the compliance screen, which focuses on a potential participant's eligibility for Project XL, is to give appropriate Agency personnel information on the participant's current compliance status and compliance history. This information will document whether a facility has an existing enforcement problem that must be addressed or could reveal patterns of behavior and/or compliance trends that might shed light on the participant's capabilities or corporate attitude. Such screening will avoid conflict or interference between Project XL goals and any enforcement efforts addressing violations of environmental law, as well as preventing situations where the Agency and an XL participant are simultaneously in cooperative and adversarial postures.

The primary purpose of updating the compliance screen prior to a high-visibility recognition event is similar. During the time between a participant's acceptance into Project XL (and its initial compliance screen) and any high-profile events, enforcement activity associated with the participant may have occurred which would make the involvement of high-ranking Agency officials in recognition events inappropriate and awkward. The update screen should uncover any such potential pitfalls and help avoid undercutting Agency credibility or unnecessarily complicating environmental enforcement actions.

If you have any questions about the attached guidance, please contact me or John Fogarty, Deputy Director of my Office of Planning and Policy Analysis (at 202-564-2530).


cc: Sylvia Lowrance
Mike Stahl
Assistant Administrators
Regional Administrators
Regional Counsel
Reinvention Action Council
Enforcement Coordinators
XL Coordinators

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