About the Data
Completeness | Data
Quality | Random Audits|
|ECHO provides access to data in several of the major EPA national databases. Four key steps in the enforcement process at regulated facilities typically are documented in these databases:
The information presented on the ECHO web site primarily relates to facilities regulated as:
ECHO reflects EPA, state, local and tribal environmental agency compliance and enforcement records that have been entered into EPA's national databases under the statutes listed above, along with additional EPA enforcement data and other contextual information (detailed below).
EPA National Databases
Each database is copied monthly into the Integrated Data for Enforcement Analysis (IDEA) system and made available via ECHO, allowing Internet access to integrated data. Updated ECHO data typically are available at the end of each month.
ECHO provides access to summary data, as well as detailed records for regulated facilities. Detailed records for each facility in ECHO include compliance and enforcement data along with contextual information, such as:
Time Period of Data
The past three years of facility compliance data is presented on the Detailed Facility Report in three-month sections of data (quarters of the federal fiscal year). For compliance data that comes to EPA in quarters (ICIS-NPDES, SDWIS), the last twelve complete quarters are displayed. Other systems collect daily or monthly compliance data, in which case ECHO displays the last twelve complete quarters plus anything more recent than the last full quarter.
Downloadable datasets with more years of data are offered for advanced data users.
Please note that "real-time" data are not presented on this site. Although the data are updated every month, the lag time for data to become available on ECHO varies depending on the data system, activity, and negotiated reporting cycle. For example, an inherent lag time exists between the date an inspection is performed, the entry of the inspection into the state database, the uploading of data from the state to EPA, and the posting of data on the site. In some situations, data will enter the system quickly, in other circumstances the lag time may be 2-3 months.
Data in the national databases generally is more complete for larger facilities. EPA requires more information to be reported to its national databases on larger or "major" facilities than for smaller facilities. Data entry regarding smaller facilities is required in some instances, but not in others, and some non-required data are entered voluntarily by states. In AFS, the larger Clean Air Act facilities are designated as active, "federally-reportable." In ICIS-NPDES, the larger Clean Water Act facilities are active, "major" permittees. In RCRAInfo, these facilities are Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities and Large Quantity Generators.
ECHO presents data as reported to the EPA databases - information on smaller facilities that is reported to the national databases is displayed on ECHO. Understanding the mix of required and non-required data helps users interpret whether the ECHO information is complete, or whether state environmental agencies or state databases should be consulted in order to see a complete picture of enforcement and compliance for regulated facilities.
Additional Information Regarding CWA Data
Compliance assurance and enforcement activities related to federal environmental laws are conducted by EPA, authorized or delegated states, tribal and local jurisdictions. Each level of government works to ensure that information in national data systems is accurate. The migration of data from many jurisdictions to multiple national program databases is a challenging task. Some state and local jurisdictions directly enter data to national databases, while others maintain their own databases and transfer data to EPA through batch processing. Under both approaches, steps are taken to ensure that the data are of high quality:
The reports posted below explain the results of two random audits conducted by the EPA Office of Compliance. All states and EPA regions participated in the inspection audit, conducted in 2002, just prior to ECHO release. Most participated in the enforcement action audit conducted in 2004. File reviews at that time indicated a high level of data quality in the national data systems.
The audits assessed state and EPA inspection and formal enforcement action data in several national databases [Air Facility System (AFS), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Information System (RCRAInfo), and Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS) for federal enforcement actions] and derived statistically valid conclusions about the data. The audit examined data regarding CAA federally reportable stationary sources, CWA active major dischargers, and RCRA treatment, storage and disposal facilities and large quantity generators.
The inspection audit found that in fiscal year 2001 87% of facilities in the universes examined in AFS had completely accurate data in key fields, and 97% of facilities in the universe examined in RCRAInfo had completely accurate data in key fields. Missing inspections accounted for most errors in AFS. For the facilities that had inspections in the data systems, the inspection information was accurate more than 95% of the time. (Based on the survey methodology used, EPA is 95% confident that these accuracy rates are within 4% of the true value for AFS, and within 2% of the true value for RCRAInfo.)
The enforcement action audit found that in fiscal year 2003 95% of facilities in the universe examined in AFS, and 97% of facilities in the universe examined in RCRAInfo had completely accurate data in key fields. (Based on the survey methodology used, EPA is 95% confident that these accuracy rates are within 2% of the true values.)
|Some of the documents provided by EPA are Adobe Acrobat PDF (Portable Document Format) Files. They can be viewed, and printed, with the use of an Adobe Acrobat Reader.|