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Senators Criticize EPA for Hiring Push

Seven Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) are raising concerns over plans by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hire nearly 500 employees by the end of September.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the Senators highlight recent issues regarding EPA’s internal management, including around its hiring practices, as basis for their inquiry into the hiring push.

The agency and its hiring practices have been subject to tight scrutiny following the scandal that broke in 2014 in which a former senior EPA official, John Beale, was found to have defrauded the agency out of nearly $900,000 in unearned pay and bonuses while claiming to work for the CIA and failing to appear at his EPA job. Beale worked in EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, which McCarthy led before becoming Administrator. 

The EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) has recently reported on improper buyouts, missed opportunities to consolidate positions, and that EPA’s hiring process  was “at risk of hiring an applicant based on false information and may not hire the best-qualified candidate.”

Given that some of the corrective actions recommended by the EPA OIG regarding hiring and staffing have yet to be addressed by the agency, the Senators assert that their oversight over the agency’s hiring push is appropriate.

“It appears EPA has made little progress in getting ‘its house’ in order since the John Beale scandal, and the Agency may be vulnerable to greater abuses through recently-planned mass hires,” wrote the Senators. “We question the integrity of your Agency’s reasoning behind hiring the equivalent of 30 new employees each business day, ostensibly to inflate your staffing levels before the congressional appropriations process, which is concerning considering the Agency’s failure to revise and correct its hiring practices.”

Posted in General News

Tags: OMB, OIRA

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