EPA implements two voluntary disclosure policies, the Audit Policy and the Small Business Compliance Policy. The voluntary disclosure policies were designed to provide major incentives for regulated entities that voluntarily discover, promptly disclose, and expeditiously correct non-compliance, rendering formal EPA investigation and enforcement action unnecessary. The policies safeguard human health and the environment by providing incentives for regulated entities to come into compliance with the federal environmental laws and regulations.
Once a regulated entity notifies EPA, in writing, of potential violations, EPA evaluates the discovery, disclosure, and correction of the violations against the applicable policy’s criteria, and determines the appropriate enforcement response. If the disclosure does not meet the conditions of the applicable policy then the matter is handled under the appropriate media-specific penalty policy, which often provide penalty mitigation for voluntary disclosures. The enforcement response for the vast majority of voluntary disclosures is a Notice of Determination (NOD). If a significant economic benefit has been gained by the regulated entity or it failed to meet all the conditions of the applicable policy, then a civil penalty may be sought administratively or judicially. A list of regional Audit Policy contacts can be found at http://www.epa.gov/compliance/incentives/auditing/auditdisclose.html.
The voluntary disclosure is tracked at the disclosure initiation stage as well as the conclusion (i.e., administrative penalty action, judicial action, or NOD). Voluntary disclosure initiations are entered in ICIS by using the "Add Voluntary Disclosure" data entry module. To ensure that a resolved disclosure received under a compliance incentive is properly entered in ICIS on the “Enforcement Action Detail” screen, check the box labeled, “Result of Voluntary Self-Disclosure.” Any environmental benefits from a voluntary disclosure are entered on the "Compliance Activities/Injunctive Relief" screen of the Enforcement Action Conclusion. Voluntary disclosure resolutions are tracked for OECA national reporting as formal enforcement actions this includes Notice of Determinations (NOD), the issuance of any type of administrative order, or the issuance of a civil judicial conclusion. In all cases, the ICIS box labeled, “Result of Voluntary Self-Disclosure,” must be checked to assure voluntary disclosure credit will be given.
The information entered into ICIS for voluntary disclosures is displayed on key national reports:
– Voluntary Disclosure Initiations;
– Voluntary Disclosure Settlements;
– Audit Policy Notice of Determination; and
– Inj Relf, Penalty, and SEP Values - All Civil Cases.