Management Issues

2017


 

GAO: EPA Needs to Institutionalize Its “Lean” Program to Reap Cost and Time Benefits

July 2017

Through GAO's work, they have made numerous recommendations to EPA about its management and operations, as well as its programs related to water issues; environmental contamination and cleanup; toxics, chemical safety, and pesticides; public health and environmental justice; and air quality, climate change, and energy efficiency.

GAO testified that, as of August 23, 2017, EPA had implemented 191 of 318 recommendations GAO made since 2007. Most of the unimplemented recommendations concern management and operations and water issues. For example, EPA has not fully implemented our recommendation to link its workforce plan to its strategic plan. Report


 

EPA OIG: EPA Needs to Institutionalize Its “Lean” Program to Reap Cost and Time Benefits

July 2017

OIG found that the EPA could not fully demonstrate that its Lean Government Initiative is operating as intended to eliminate waste and achieve savings. We found the following opportunities for the EPA to strengthen its Lean Government Initiative:

  • Selection of Lean projects to avoid overlap.

  • Improvements in monitoring Lean efforts to gauge progress.

  • Improvements in reporting Lean projects, including cost metrics.

  • Identification and tracking of Lean projects.

  • Development of a cohesive strategy for leading, implementing and

    monitoring the Lean initiative.

  • Implementation of consistent and standard Lean training.

The federal government has issued guidance on how federal agencies can optimize performance, improve efficiencies, and identify ways to eliminate wasteful practices and operate more efficiently. In addition, the EPA has issued memorandums on how to use Lean specifically within the agency. However, the EPA’s internal controls for implementing Lean in accordance with this guidance and these memorandums need improvement, such as identifying and tracking Lean projects to gauge progress and costs, as well as leading and monitoring the Lean initiative agencywide. Because these controls have not been fully implemented, Lean has not been institutionalized at the EPA. These internal controls must be improved before the agency can fully maximize the application of Lean practices and ensure that it is not wasting resources by failing to create efficiencies. Report

2016


 

EPA OIG: Summary Report: Fiscal Year 2015 Reviews of EPA’s Measurement of Environmental Program Performance and Outcomes 

May 2016

In fiscal year 2015, the EPA OIG issued the five reports that disclosed common gaps that the EPA has in establishing program goals and identifying metrics that enable the agency to measure the effectiveness and benefits of environmental programs. 

These five reports, which covered various EPA offices, all identified control weaknesses in data accuracy and in the EPA’s success in collecting and reporting accurate program performance data or program benefits. Report


 

EPA OIG: EPA Should Timely Deobligate Unneeded Contract, Purchase and Miscellaneous Funds 

April 2016

The EPA did not deobligate $583,875 from contract, purchase and miscellaneous obligations that had no activity in the last 18 months. Further, OIG estimated there could be an additional $2,962,058 that could be deobligated. Report

Media Coverage

Free Beacon: EPA Has $3 Million Tied Up With Contractors Who Aren’t Doing Anything


 

EPA OIG: Positioning EPA for the Digital Age Requires New Mindsets Toward Printing 

March 2016

The EPA’s main authoritative guidance for printing operations (Printing Management Manual) is over 20 years old and outdated. 

EPA’s current mindset leads the agency to amass large quantities of printed material. EPA staff believe it is cheaper to print in bulk and then store the material. The potential for waste is high, as evidenced by the nearly 8 million items recycled at the National Service Center for Environmental Publications between June 2013 and March 2015. 

Further, the EPA has yet to implement all corrective actions identified in response to a 2014 OIG report on strategic sourcing. Report

Media Coverage

Free Beacon: EPA ‘Prints in Bulk’


 

EPA OIG: Significant Data Quality Deficiencies Impede EPA’s Ability to Ensure Companies Can Pay for Cleanups 

March 2016

Data quality deficiencies and a lack of internal controls prevent the EPA from properly overseeing and managing its financial assurance program for the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). For these programs, EPA data for corporate self-insurance show:

  •   The estimated total cost is $9.1 billion.

  •   An estimated $577 million is expired.

  •   More than $6 billion is insufficient or not documented as being provided to the EPA. 

Furthermore, the EPA has not disclosed this area of vulnerability in its Federal Managers’ Financial Integrity Act report in the past 5 years. Report

 

EPA OIG: Management of Overtime Improved at EPA’s Immediate Office of Air and Radiation 

March 2016

OIG identified weaknesses in the approval and management of overtime. We found that both the employee and the approver pre-signed several incomplete Request for Overtime Authorization forms (EPA Form 2560-7). The incomplete pre-signed forms did not contain a justification or reason for the overtime, or dates and hours the estimated overtime was expected to be worked. The pre-signing of incomplete overtime request forms does not meet the intent of EPA policies and procedures. 

For the period March 2013 through March 2015, the OAR employee in question recorded 262 hours of overtime and was compensated approximately $12,948 for those hours. Report


 

2015


 

EPA OIG: EPA Needs Better Management Controls for Approval of Employee Travel 

September 2015

OIG's analysis of randomly selected travel vouchers for all EPA employees disclosed significant issues with a former Region 9 Administrator, as well as other weaknesses agencywide. 

A former Region 9 Administrator made 88 trips from fiscal year (FY) 2007 through January 2009. For 51 of the 88 trips (58 percent), the former Region 9 Administrator traveled to Orange County/Los Angeles County (OC/LA), California, near the former Region 9 Administrator’s residence at a cost of approximately $69,000. 

In addition, the OIG found internal control weaknesses for employee travel within the EPA. Management issues included inadequate justification for lodging, trip reports not always submitted or in a timely fashion, and reporting on premium-class travel was incomplete. Report.  

Media Coverage

FedSmith:Watchdog Says EPA Management Failing to Promptly Discipline Problem Employees


 

EPA OIG: FY 2015: EPA Management Challenges 

May 2015

The EPA Continues to Need Improved Management Oversight to Combat Fraud and Abuse and Take Prompt Action Against Employees Found to Be Culpable:

Recent events and activities indicate a possible “culture of complacency” among some supervisors at the EPA regarding time and attendance controls, employee computer usage, real property management, and taking prompt action against employees.

Our early warning report on administrative leave identified eight employees who had administrative leave totaling 20,926 hours and cost the government an estimated $1,096,868.

In November 2013 and May 2014, respectively, EPA management was made aware that two EPA employees, in two separate cases, were viewing and downloading pornography on EPA computers during work hours. The investigations disclosed that the employees spent approximately 1 to 6 hours a day viewing and downloading pornography. Report


 

2014


 

EPA OIG: Report: Early Warning Report - Some EPA Employees Found to Be on Paid Administrative Leave for Years 

November 2014

OIG provided to the EPA Administrator data on eight employees who had recorded significant amounts of administrative leave. The amount of administrative leave recorded by these eight employees totaled 20,926 hours and cost the government an estimated $1,096,868. Each of these employees was on extended administrative leave for 4 or more months. For four of the eight employees, the administrative leave covered more than a year. Report

Media Coverage

Free Beacon: Taxpayers Paid 8 EPA Employees $1 Million to Do Nothing


 

EPA OIG: EPA’s Fleet Management Program Needs Improvement 

October 2014

The EPA’s oversight of its fleet management program needs improvement. The OIG identified three areas that reinforce the need for more oversight:

  •   The EPA has not finalized or issued guidance documentation to manage the fleet in over 5 years.

  •   Fleet managers were not following program requirements and federal regulations for vehicle emission testing, tracking vehicle usage, and ensuring operator responsibilities.

  •   The EPA lacks documentation to support its approval of law enforcement vehicles in home-to-work status.

Without adequate oversight of the fleet program, the agency is not ensuring that the $6 million-per-year program is efficient and effective to perform the agency’s mission, and is placing taxpayer funds at risk. Report


 

EPA OIG: How the EPA’s Office of Homeland Security Impedes the Investigations of the EPA’s Office of Inspector General 

May 2014

The EPA OIG’s Office of Investigations is being impeded from fulfilling its responsibilities by actions of the EPA’s internal Office of Homeland Security (OHS), a unit within the Office of the Administrator.  Speciifcally, there are three ongoing actions by OHS that are impeding the OIG:

The most critical concern of the OIG is the safety and security of all EPA employees, facilities and assets. The OIG’s ability to investigate threats against EPA employees and facilities has been impeded due to OHS’ total and systematic refusal to share threat information. 

The second issue is that the OIG’s ability to conduct employee misconduct investigations has been impeded by OHS’ operation as an unauthorized de facto law enforcement organization, as well as that office’s refusal to share information related to potential criminal and administrative misconduct by EPA employees and contractors. 

OHS’ refusal to share classified, or any, information, or to recognize the OIG’s statutory authority and responsibility, also extends to intrusions into EPA computer systems and networks. 

Statement of Patrick Sullivan, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations 

Media Coverage

House Oversight Committee: Is EPA Leadership Obstructing Its Own Inspector General?

Fox News: EPA inspector general's office to say its investigations impeded by unit inside chief's office


 

EPA OIG: Early Warning Report: National Service Center for Environmental Publications in Blue Ash, Ohio, Spent $1.5 Million to Store Excess Publications 

March 2014

The agency is storing more than 6 years of publications at the warehouse. As of December 6, 2013, the warehouse had an inventory of 18,406,848 publications but averaged only 2,949,643 publications shipped on a yearly basis. Consequently, the EPA is tying up funds by storing and caring for excess stock at an annual cost of up to $1.2 million. Additional costs include warehouse activities and other direct costs, plus up to $359,000 in leasing costs. Report


 

EPA OIG: Ineffective Oversight of Purchase Cards Results in Inappropriate Purchases at EPA 

March 2014

The EPA did not provide effective oversight to ensure that purchase card holders and approving officials comply with internal control procedures. Of $152,602 in transactions we sampled, we found $79,254 of prohibited, improper and erroneous purchases. Some of the more egregious purchases OIG identified were meals for an awards recognition ceremony and gym memberships for EPA employees and their families. Report

Media Coverage

Fox News: Audit finds EPA workers used gov't-issued cards for dubious expenses


 

2013


 

EPA OIG: The EPA OIG’s Investigation of John C. Beale 

October 2013

John Beale impersonated a CIA agent during his time as an EPA employee. He spent significant time away from the office and stole $900,000 in government pay, bonuses and expenses. Statement of Patrick Sullivan, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations.

Media Coverage

Washington PostReport: EPA official approved CIA impersonator John Beale expenses and pay

USA Today: Congress: EPA's fake CIA agent is tip of 'fraudulent iceberg'

  • Office of Administration Director Renee Page sold jewelry and weight loss products from her office during business hours, according to an inspector general's report. The report said she also hired 17 family members and friends as interns, and that she arranged for her daughter, also an EPA employee, to get a cash bonus out of her budget. Page did not return an e-mail seeking comment.

  • An EPA employee with a work-from-home job did no work for five years — and still earned a total of $600,000 and performance bonuses. She retired after an inspector general investigation.

  • Another unnamed employee kept getting regular paychecks for more than a year after moving to an assisted living facility. The Justice Department is investigating.


 

2012


 

EPA OIG: Environmental Job Training Program Implemented Well, But Focus Needed on Possible Duplication With Other EPA Programs 

September 2012

EPA did not have internal controls to identify and prevent duplication with other EPA job training programs. Consequently, there is some risk of duplication in EPA awards for job training programs. Other EPA programs that could possibly duplicate Environmental Job Training activities include the:

  •   Superfund Job Training Initiative (SuperJTI) job readiness program

  •   Surveys, Studies, Investigations, Training and Special Purpose Activities Relating to Environmental Justice grant program

  •   Environmental Justice Small Grant Program

EPA recognizes the need to identify possible duplication. Report

 

2011


 

GAO: Environmental Litigation: Cases against EPA and Associated Costs over Time 

August 2011

The Justice Department staff defended the EPA on an average of about 155 cases each year, or a total of about 2,500 cases between fiscal years 1995 and 2010. Most cases were filed under the Clean Air Act (59 percent of cases) and the Clean Water Act (20 percent of cases). 

The costs borne by the Justice, EPA, and Treasury Departments also varied without a discernible trend from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal year 2010. Justice spent at least $43 million, or $3.3 million annually, to defend EPA in court during this time. In addition, owing to statutory requirements to pay certain successful plaintiffs for attorney fees and costs, Treasury paid about $14.2 million from fiscal year 2003 through fiscal year 2010—about $1.8 million per fiscal year—to plaintiffs in environmental cases. EPA paid approximately $1.4 million from fiscal year 2006 through fiscal year 2010—about $280,000 per fiscal year—to plaintiffs for environmental litigation claims under relevant statutes. Report

Media Coverage

Washington Examiner: How Washington pays Big Green to sue the government