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EPA OIG & Pruitt Security Cost

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Posted on September 04 2018

 

 

Pruitt’s unlawful retaliation of an EPA whistle blower, April entry found here.

Pruitt’s train wreck of a Fox Interview found here.

General Accounting Office finds Pruitt violated two federal laws, found here

Pruitt’s proposed EPA Tulsa OK office, entry found here.

Pruitt’s Congressional Testimony, the I can’t recall train wreck, found here.

Pruitt finally hires an outside counsel because 12 federal investigations, found here

 

Scott Pruitt, the gift that keeps giving

In late 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (EPA-OIG) received an anonymous complaint on their hotline about complaint alleging that the Protective Service Detail (EPA-PSD) agents weren’t working their complete 8-hour shifts or the required overtime hours for Law Enforcement Availability Pay. This Anonymous Complaint also alleged that some EPA-PSD agents may have actually exceeded the biweekly or annual pay cap limitations which are set by law. Based on this complaint and details provided at the time of the initial complaint, the EPA-OIG initiated an audit. The purpose of the audit was to determine whether the agency was properly scheduling, approving and monitoring agents time.

Based on preliminary findings, the EPA-OIG expanded the audit to include a review of the agency’s law enforcement authority.  EPA-OIG via their spokeswoman Jean Bloom went on to explain that:

 

Protective Service Detail agents deputized to provide protection to the EPA Administrator. This coincided with hiring new agents specifically for the purpose and reassigning agency Criminal Investigation Division agents full-time to the Protective Service Detail, away from investigating environmental crimes. In 2017, the agency stopped using Marshals Service deputation.

The OIG audit team questioned why the EPA was no longer seeking Marshals Service deputation and how EPA was deriving its law enforcement authority for the Protective Service Detail agents.

 

After the initial review the EPA-OIG made numerous request to the EPA Adminstrator’s Office that their office provide the OIG with a written legal opinion setting forth the legal basis for the EPA-PSD “Law Enforcement Authority”. When the EPA Administrator’s Office stonewalled, that sparked the EPA-OIG to send their “draft audit report” to the EPA Office of General Counsel, then provided the EPA-OIG with a written legal opinion:

...”part of the agency’s official response to the draft report submitted at the end of June 2018 and it repeated the agency’s argument that its statute covering investigations of federal environmental laws was broad enough to allow the agency to provide protective services. The OIG doesn’t take any position on the merits of that analysis.

However, we recommend that the agency’s opinion be implemented through new policies, procedures and/or guidance defining the amount of time agents must spend on investigating environmental crimes and how the time will be monitored and documented by supervisors.” (emphasis added)

 

The EPA-OIG’s findings included:

Protective Service Detail has no approved procedures that address the level of protection it provides for the Administrator or how those services are to be provided....failure to establish procedures results in the organization not operating effectively, efficiently or consistently. It also leads to ambiguity with respect to how the security detail operates.

 

Due to the lack of a written and approved agency policy, the “decision” to provide  Administrator Pruitt with 24/7 Security  was made before his arrival and this decision was made without using documented procedures to determine the proper level of protection required. Meaning this Security detail lacked the appropriate oversight and cost controls, hence leading to an excessive expenditure of nearly $3.5Million. The EPA-OIG report goes on to state:

 

We found that the PSD has no final, approved standard operating procedures that address the level of protection required for the Administrator or how those services are to be provided.

The failure to have effective and current standard operating procedures can result in the organization having unclear lines of authority, inconsistent practices, inappropriate or inadequate staffing, and
excessive or unnecessary costs.

For example, the PSD incurred over $3.5 million in costs from February 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017: an increase of over 110 percent compared to the prior period’s costs of $1.6 million, without documented justification.

 

What is significant, reading chapter two of the EPA-OIG report, under current  Federal law 18 U.S.C. §3063, Powers of the Environmental Protection Agency,
states in part:

 

Upon designation by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, any law enforcement officer of the EPA with responsibility for the investigation of criminal violations of a law administered by the Agency may (1) carry firearms; (2) execute and serve any warrant or other processes issued under the authority of the United States; and (3) make arrests without warrant for (a) any offense against the United States committed in such officer’s presence; or (b) any felony offense against the United States if such officer has probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing that felony offense.

 

The EPA-OIG concluded that EPA-PSD are typically “temporary assignments” and PSD agents have the statutorily limited to “investigation of criminal violations of laws administered by the EPA.”:

 

However, because the duties of PSD Agents do not comport with the plain language of Section 3063 (which confers law enforcement powers on persons “with responsibility for the investigation of criminal violations of a law administered by the EPA”), they are not authorized to carry firearms and conduct other law enforcement activities pursuant to that statute.

Rather, their law enforcement authority to perform protective services stems from their United States Marshals Service deputation. 

 

Further because of a lack of written policies or agency guidelines the EPA-OIG concluded the agency made “improper payments in excess of $106K”

 

As a result of these improper authorizations, PSD agents incurred unauthorized overtime costs. As shown in Table 3, PSD agents received an estimated $106,507 in overtime payments for the period January 1, 2016, through March 4, 2017.

Additionally, the Office of General Counsel incorrectly terminated a debt owed by a PSD agent, resulting in the agent exceeding the annual pay cap.

 

And lastly the EPA-OIG made the following recommendations, given the EPA’s lack of an actual “threat analysis” the EPA-OIG concluded that was also a factor in the excessive $3.5million in PSD and extra 24/7 “Security cost” to protect the former EPA administrator. It is truly the swamp at it worse and it appears the tax payers footed millions of dollars in avoidable cost. Thanks Scotty.

...the Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance implement the Office of General Counsel opinion through new policies, procedures and/or guidance that define the amount of time PSD agents must spend on investigating environmental crimes to obtain statutory law enforcement authority and how the time will be monitored and documented by supervisors.

Also, we recommend that the EPA complete a threat analysis on a regular basis to identify the proper protection required for the Administrator.

Further, we recommend that the EPA create and implement comprehensive policies, procedures and standard operating procedures for all PSD operations. The agency took or agreed to take sufficient corrective actions for four of our 12 recommendations, but the remaining eight remain unresolved.

You can read the newly released EPA-OIG 60 page report found here. What some may not know is that YES initially there is a two week Security cost  factored into the EPA’s budget, upon the confirmation of a NEW EPA Administrator, but the EPA-OIG’s Investigation concluded that the costs to provide EPA Administrator Pruitt with 24.7 Security increased from $1.6 million to $3.5 million over just 11 months. The EPA-OIG report also noted:

The agency never provided the [EPA-OIG] audit team with documentation of the decision or justification to continue the 24-hour/seven-day-a-week protection beyond the initial 2-week period.

 

 -Spicy Out

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