The model calculates the economic savings that a company gains or avoiding payment necessary for compliance with environmental regulations or permits. While the primary purpose of the BEN model is to calculate the economic benefit of EPA regulation noncompliance, the model may also be used to calculate the after tax net present value of a pollution prevention or mitigation project. BEN is not limited to just environmental regulations; rather, it is a cost analysis model that presents savings from delaying or avoiding any expenditures. The software is extremely easy to use. Users are taken through a series of prompts to enter specified costs including initial capital investments, nondepreciable expenditures, annual expenses, dates of compliance and noncompliance, date of penalty payment, useful life of pollution control equipment, income tax rates, inflation rate, and discount rate. The savings from not paying are then calculated. Once calculated, that economic savings amount (plus some nontrivial amount reflecting the seriousness of the violation) become the EPA's minimum civil penalty. The model is mainly responsible for the dramatic rise in civil penalties from $6 million in fiscal year 1984 to over $100 million in fiscal year 1994. If the Agency actually goes to hearing or court, it almost always uses an expert witness to present the defendant's economic gain from noncompliance, not the BEN model. Version 4.4 updates the standard values for inflation and discount rate. EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) has developed a series of computer models to support its penalty assessment and cost recovery responsibilities. The models are also used in most states. The models deal with four different financial issues that frequently arise in enforcement cases: calculating the violator's economic savings noncompliance (BEN model); evaluating the validity of a violator's claim that it cannot afford compliance costs (ABEL and INDIPAY models), clean-up
costs and civil penalties; determining the present year value of Superfund clean-up (CASHOUT model); and determining the real cost of proposed extra compliance project (PROJECT model). The user's manual contains all the formulas that make up the BEN computer model. On screen 'help' information is available at any time.