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An Integrated Facility Identification System: Key to Effective Management of Environmental Information at the Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA and other state agencies require good data to identify environmental problems, set goals, select tools to remedy problems, measure their progress, analyze the effectiveness of programs and adjust management strategies accordingly.

Similarly, business managers, environmental groups and researchers all need accurate data to understand facility-specific impacts so they can take appropriate actions to improve the environment and public health. To advance the development and dissemination of more accurate, timely and consistent information, the Academy agreed to facilitate a meeting of the Environmental Information Consortium (EIC), a group interested in improving the collection and management of environmental data, which includes representatives of regulated businesses, environmental and other public interest groups, state environmental agencies, academia and consulting organizations.

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Key Findings

The EIC determined that the first priority should be to establish a comprehensive, multi-media approach for integrating facility-specific information across all of EPA’s data systems maintained by its media programs.This study focused on identifying needs that all interested parties have for data that will enable them to understand the multi-media impacts of regulated facilities. In addition, EIC members developed recommendations for how EPA can establish an integrated system facility identification system that can form the basis for modernizing EPA’s data systems.


  1. EPA should develop, implement, maintain, and oversee a single Master File system for all core facility identification (ID) data and should begin this process as soon as possible.
  2. The media program offices at EPA and the state environmental agencies should collaborate in planning, designing, and coordinating how the single Master File system will operate, including (a) development of uniform procedures and definitions, (b) how the system will track facilities’ identities through changes in name, operations or ownership, and (c) how data elements that identify and define each type of facility can support the needs of the various media programs and the state agencies.
  3. The EPA Administrator should direct all EPA media programs and regional offices (a) to use and share the single Master File system as EPA’s only source of core facility ID data and (b) to assure that future updates or other changes to facility ID data can be directly submitted by facility managers to the Master File system in accordance with procedures jointly designed by EPA and the states.
  4. In collaboration with state environmental agencies, EPA should review and modify as needed all the relevant reporting rules or other requirements for its media programs, regions, and state program delegations so the single Master File system is recognized as the official legal record of core ID data for federally regulated facilities; EPA will thereby legitimize use of facility ID data in the Master File system to satisfy all federal data collection and reporting obligations.
  5. EPA should require all its media programs and regional offices, as well as state environmental agencies, to adopt and use uniform data elements and standards that identify all regulated facilities, based on the common facility ID elements, definitions, and standards that have been jointly adopted – and will continue to be updated – by the StateEPA Environmental Data Standards Council.
  6. EPA should provide assistance to state agencies in adopting and implementing those facility ID standards and in developing the states’ capacity to maintain and update the ir own facility ID records so they can operate effectively in conjunction with the single Master File system.
  7. Every year, EPA should evaluate the accuracy of facility ID data in the single Master File system and then report its findings annually to the states, the public, regulated facilities, and Congress so the system can be continuously improved.
  8. EPA should provide public access to its single Master File system through an on-line, web-based interface that is easy for the public to understand; and that interface should provide for public access to agencies’ information about the environmental obligations and performance of all federally regulated facilities.

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