NATICK, Mass. (Aug. 3, 2016) -- Personnel from the U.S. Army Environmental Command visited Natick July 25-29 to perform an environmental audit. The Environmental Performance Assessment and Assistance System, better known as an EPAAS, provides an additional set of eyes to an installation's environmental program.

"The premise of an EPAAS is to provide the garrison commander with a comprehensive look at their environmental program," said Jacob Holloway, an environmental support manager with AEC.

Holloway said the EPAAS allows the garrison commander "to see how well their environmental program is functioning as a whole, what areas need improvement, and what areas they're either taking unnecessary risks or are exposed to risks that they didn't know."

Holloway said at the end of the audit, the garrison commander is provided with an out brief that outlines everything that was found and the areas that need attention.

"Because everyone's under financial (and) time constraints, they need to know the most important (areas) where they might be taking on fines from the (United States Environmental Protection Agency) or the Commonwealth (of Massachusetts), and areas that might be detrimental to the mission," said Holloway.

Holloway said the most important part of performing the EPAAS is to support the mission and the Soldier.

"The view here is the hands-on close view, and we provide that bigger picture," said Holloway. "We're not familiar with the programs, so it's good for us to come in (with) fresh eyes."

Every three years, all active-duty Army installations are required to go through an EPAAS. During the years that the EPAAS is not performed, the installation's environmental office still conducts other environmental audits.

"This is not a new program," said Rich Valcourt, an environmental engineer with U.S. Army Garrison Natick. "This has been going on since 1991, and prior to that, we had other audits."

Valcourt said it was only when the EPAAS was implemented that teams of subject matter experts were brought in.

"They looked at every, single media area (air, water, waste) under the environmental purview, to include, sometimes, program management," said Valcourt. "So it's not just looking at how your paperwork and records are; it's also, how are you managing your paperwork and records?"

Holloway said that's where the assistance piece really comes in.

"We all work for the Army," said Holloway. "It's one thing for us to come in and highlight the areas that need improvement, but it's more important for us to highlight those areas and then work with the installation to solve those issues and challenges."

Holloway said part of assisting the organizations is to look at everything holistically.

"Maybe you need more resources here, or maybe here are some resources you can use to make your program more efficient, where you're maybe spending too much time in one place or you're not allowed to spend more time," said Holloway. "We can provide avenues to increase the efficiency of your time."

Holloway said after the environmental division and the garrison commander are briefed on any findings, any issues are put under a three-month review period.

"The environmental staff will have an opportunity to review everything and provide more information, if necessary, to get clarification on any of the findings," said Holloway.

Holloway said within six months, any issues that may arise from the audit need to be addressed so that the organization is within compliance.

"We are here to save the Army money by identifying things that might be putting the installation at risk," said Holloway. "It's really designed to be a tool for the garrison to use to augment their program."