HHS General Administration Manual Part 30 Environmental Protection

(as of February 25, 2000)

SUBJECT: Administrative Requirements

30-20-00-- Background
30-20-10-- Responsibilities
30-20-20-- Approval Authority and Delegations of Authority
30-20-30-- Process for Establishing Categorical Exclusions
30-20-40-- Categories of Exclusion
30-20-50-- Environmental Review Procedures

30-20-00 -- Background

This chapter establishes an administrative framework in the Department for environmentally-related activities. Specifically, this chapter (1) describes the assignment of relative responsibilities in the Department regarding environmental activities; (2) establishes procedures for program reviews; and (3) establishes other on-going administrative requirements.

30-20-10 -- Responsibilities

  1. Office of the Secretary. The Secretary shall designate an official as the Department Environmental Officer, who will be responsible for:

    1. Preparing Departmental guidelines and other policy documents for issuance by the Secretary or other appropriate Department official pertaining to environmental protection and preservation of natural or cultural assets;

    2. Approving lead agency agreements having Department-wide applicability;

    3. Providing training to HHS program officials with respect to carrying out the requirements of environmental statutes and Executive Orders;

    4. Maintaining liaison with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other Federal agencies charged with direct responsibility for administering environmental statutes and Executive Orders;

    5. Coordinating the review of environmental statements originating from outside of HHS. This responsibility is delegated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health (FR,Vol. 43 no. 164, Aug. 23, 1978); and

    6. Reviewing and making recommendations to the Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget with respect to determinations by OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs that certain activities are categorically excluded from environmental review.

  2. OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs. Heads of OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs are responsible for ensuring that organizational units under their authority, including regional, comply with all provisions of all applicable Federal, State, and local environmental laws, statutes, regulations and Executive Orders and with the procedures of part 30. An OPDIV/STAFFDIV head may designate an environmental officer, who may act in either a full-time capacity or in addition to other duties, to assist in fulfilling these responsibilities.

30-20-20 -- Approval Authority and Delegations of Authority

  1. Delegation of Authority. The OPDIV/STAFFDIV head may redelegate all of their environmental responsibilities to subordinate program managers except for the authority of an OPDIV/STAFFDIV head to approve the designation of actions as categorically excluded. OPDIV/STAFFDIV heads shall obtain concurrence from the Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget with respect to activities designated to be categorically excluded from environmental reviews.

  2. Excluded Material. The exclusion of material from environmental impact statements on the basis of national security and trade secrets requires approval by the HHS Office of the General Counsel. (See Section 30-30-40.)

  3. Natural Assets. Proposed actions which will have an effect on certain natural assets may require concurrence or approval from other Federal agencies and/or entities prior to taking the action. (See chapter 30-40.)

  4. Floodplains/Wetlands. OPDIV/STAFFDIV heads shall sign determinations pursuant to Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, and Executive Order 11990, Protection of Wetlands, except:

    1. The Secretary shall approve proposed actions requiring environmental impact statements on projects affecting floodplains; and

    2. The Secretary shall approve proposed actions requiring environmental assessments or environmental impact statements for new construction in wetlands.

30-20-30 -- Process for Establishing Categorical Exclusions

  1. Actions Requiring Environmental Review. All HHS activities will be evaluated to determine whether such activities are actions that require environmental review.

    In a program review, an OPDIV/STAFFDIV evaluates actions it will be taking in order to determine the potential of these actions to cause an environmental effect under an applicable environmental statute or Executive Order. OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs should have already completed an initial review. OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs may undertake additional program reviews subsequently whenever they deem it appropriate.

    As a result of program review, an OPDIV/STAFFDIV shall divide each of its actions in one of three groups:

    Group 1 (categorically excluded) -- Those actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment or affect a natural or cultural asset protected by an environmental statute or Executive Order.

    Group 2 -- Those actions which require an environmental review because they may cause a significant environmental effect under NEPA or may affect a protected cultural or natural asset protected by an environmental statute or Executive Order.

    Group 3 -- Those actions which normally do cause a significant environmental effect under NEPA or affect a cultural or natural asset protected by an environmental statute or Executive Order.

    In grouping each of its actions, OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs shall use the exclusion categories described in Section 30-20-40. If an action falls within one of these exclusion categories, then it may be included in Group 1. Such actions do not require environmental reviews, except in circumstances described in 30-20-40. If an action does not fall within one of these exclusion categories, then an OPDIV/STAFFDIV must perform an environmental review prior to taking the action. Chapters 30-30 and 30-50 describe the procedures for conducting an environmental review.

    Each OPDIV/STAFFDIV shall maintain as part of its organizational guidance documents lists of those actions which it has determined fall under Groups 1, 2, and 3 or shall have procedures that address such actions. These lists shall supplement other internal directives or instructions concerning environment-related responsibilities.

  2. Approval. A determination by an OPDIV/STAFFDIV that an action falls within Group 1 (Categorically Excluded) is effective upon approval by the OPDIV/STAFFDIV head or, as required, after the issuance of specific guidance. However, OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs must report these determinations to the Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget. Determination that an action falls within Group 1 (Categorically Excluded) is effective until rendered inapplicable because of changes in the underlying program authority or regulation.

  3. Publication of Additional Categorical Exclusions by OPDIVs/STAFFDIVs. An OPDIV/STAFFDIV may establish additional categorical exclusions that pertain to the actions of that OPDIV/STAFFDIV after review by the Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget and publication for public comment in the Federal Register, in accordance with the procedures established by that OPDIV/STAFFDIV. All categorical exclusions not covered by the general listing in Section 30-20-40(B)(2) must be published in the Federal Register.

30-20-40 -- Categories of Exclusion

  1. Application of Categorical Exclusions

    1. Required Determinations. To find that an action is categorically excluded, an OPDIV/STAFFDIV shall determine the following:

      1. Falls Within Exclusion Category. The proposed action falls within one of the three exclusion categories described in this section. This determination may take place as the result of a program review of an OPDIV's/STAFFDIV's actions, in which case the action is listed in the OPDIV's/STAFFDIV's administrative issuance system as being categorically excluded from further environmental reviews.

      2. Absence of Extraordinary Circumstances. There are no extraordinary circumstances related to the proposal that may affect the significance of the environmental effects of the proposal. Extraordinary circumstances are unique situations presented by specific proposals, such as scientific controversy about the environmental effects of the proposal; uncertain effects or effects involving unique or unknown risks; or unresolved conflicts concerning alternate uses of available resources within the meaning of section 102(2)(E) of NEPA; and where it is reasonable to anticipate a cumulatively significant impact on the environment. See 40 CFR 1508.27 for examples.

    2. All categorical exclusions in this Part may be applied by any organizational element of HHS.

    3. A class of actions includes activities foreseeably necessary to proposals encompassed within the class of actions (such as associated transportation activities and award of implementing grants and contracts).

  2. Categories of Actions Which May Be Excluded From Environmental Review. Categories of actions which may be excluded from environmental review include, but are not limited to the following:

    1. Category No. 1 -- General Exclusions:

      1. When a law or regulation grants an exception, unless precluded by an OPDIV/STAFFDIV regulation;

      2. When the courts have found that the action does not require environmental review; and

      3. When an action implements actions outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States and such actions are excluded from review by Executive Order 12114.

    2. Category No. 2 -- Functional Exclusions:

      1. Routine administrative and management support, including legal counsel, public affairs, program evaluation, monitoring and individual personnel actions;

      2. Appellate reviews when HHS was the plaintiff in the lower court decision (e.g., a case involving failure by a nursing home to comply with fire and safety regulations);

      3. Information technology management;

      4. Education and training grants and contracts (e.g., grants for remedial training programs or teacher training) except projects involving construction, renovation, or changes in land use;

      5. Grants for administrative overhead support (e.g., regional health or income maintenance program administration);

      6. Grants for social services (e.g., support for Head Start, senior citizen programs or drug treatment programs) except projects involving construction, renovation, or changes in land use;

      7. Liaison functions (e.g., serving on task forces, ad hoc committees or representing HHS interests in specific functional areas in relationship with other governmental and non-governmental entities);

      8. Maintenance (e.g., undertaking repairs necessary to ensure the functioning of an existing facility), except for properties on or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places;

      9. Statistics and information collection and dissemination (e.g., collection of health and demographic data and publication of compilations and summaries);

      10. Technical assistance by HHS program personnel (e.g.,, providing assistance in methods for reducing error rates in State public assistance programs or in determining the cause of a disease outbreak); and

      11. Adoption of regulations and guidelines pertaining to the above activities (except technical assistance and those resulting in population changes).

    3. Category 3 -- Program Exclusions. These exclusions, when applicable, result from a substantive review and determination by an OPDIV/STAFFDIV that certain programs or certain activities within a program will not normally (a) significantly affect the human environment (as defined by NEPA) or (b) affect an asset (as defined in an applicable environmental statute or Executive Order) regardless of the location or magnitude of the action. For example, an OPDIV/STAFFDIV, following its review, might determine that the following are unlikely to cause an environmental effect: assigning a member of the Commissioned Corps to a locality to supplement existing medical personnel or providing funds to support expansion of emergency medical services in existing hospitals.

30-20-50 -- Environmental Review Procedures

An OPDIV/STAFFDIV must conduct environmental reviews with respect to all proposed actions that are subject to an environmental statute or Executive Order which do not fall under categorical exclusions 1, 2, or 3. Chapters 30-30 and 30-50 discuss the process for conducting an environmental review with respect to a specific proposed action and for fulfilling documentation and other requirements. Each OPDIV/STAFFDIV shall ensure that its programs have appropriate procedures for conducting environmental reviews, for completing required documentation, and for ensuring public involvement and intergovernmental consultation.

These procedures must be in writing and be included in the internal organizational guidance documents or regulations. These procedures must, at a minimum, address the following:

  1. A list of those actions which the OPDIV/STAFFDIV has categorically excluded from further environmental review requirements. Note that for any particular action, there still must be the absence of extraordinary circumstances as noted in 30-20-40, A.1.(b).

  2. A list of those actions or circumstances when actions require an environmental review prior to taking the action.

  3. Designation of officials responsible for environment-related activities including determinations as to whether to prepare an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment, if one is required.

  4. Procedures for preparing and circulating environmental statements (including data required by the applicable environmental statute or Executive Order for the type of action covered).

  5. Procedures for ensuring the coordination of environmental review with program decision-making, including concurrent development and circulation of environmental documents with program documents and the identification of key decision-making points.

  6. Procedures for consulting with other Federal agencies responsible for the environmental statutes or Executive Orders, if necessary.

  7. Procedures for developing lead agency agreements (as described in 30-30-20B and 30-50).

  8. A prohibition against precluding or prejudicing selection of alternatives in an environmental impact statement without regard to environmental risks.

  9. Procedures for establishing a reviewable record, including making environmental statements and related decision-making materials part of the record of formal rule-making and adjudicatory proceedings.

  10. Provisions for early consultation and assistance to potential applicants and non-Federal entities in planning actions and developing information necessary for later Federal involvement (as described in 30-30-20C and 30-50).

  11. Descriptions of circumstances which preclude completion of environmental reviews within reasonable time frames because of public health and safety considerations and procedures for after-the-fact completion.

  12. Provision for ensuring that applications and other materials from potential grantees or other recipients of Departmental funds, on a program-by-program basis, include information necessary to conduct an environmental review. Such information shall include the identification of any properties which may be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

  13. Provision for identifying cultural assets which a program controls through leases or Federal ownership, and for nominating such historic properties to the National Register of Historic Places.

Last Revised: October 17, 2003