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Master's Professional Reports Abstract

Governmental Accountability: Toxic Waste and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal

Managing negative externalities is difficult, regardless of whether the actor is a governmental agency or a private sector firm. The market offers no incentive for a firm or agency to consider its externalities, pushing environmental performance in the wrong direction. The public demands that some controls be put in place and the role of managing and abating negative externalities falls to the government. Problems arise, however, when the government is attempting to manage or abate the externalities it is creating. Such self-policing issues are a major reason why toxic contamination reached the intensity and proportion that it did at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Colorado. Issues such as conflicting stakeholder and mission definitions, differentials in the power of the governmental agencies, and issues of confidentiality all contributed to the environmental catastrophe at the Arsenal. Two key elements in restoring environmental accountability are leadership commitment and effective training programs.

--Author's foreword.