21. EPA FAILS TO PURSUE VIOLATORS OF FRAUD AND ABUSE
The Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970 to
administer and enforce national pollution control laws dealing with air and water
pollution, noise abatement, solid waste management, pesticide regulation and radiation
In June 1991, the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee
on oversight and investigations issued a report that charged the EPA with failing
to perform its responsibilities.
Specifically, the report said EPA auditors
failed to pursue potential waste and fraud in some $8.6 billion worth of government
contracts, including critical work on the Superfund hazardous waste cleanup program.
charged that the independent watchdog office within the EPA is "plagued by
serious leadership failures," that efforts to audit serious fraud allegations
against one of EPA's largest contractors were "superficial," and that
investigators' performance in prosecuting potential fraud by Superfund cleanup
contractors was "dismal."
The report, which covered fiscal years
1984 through 1990, added that there were 273 outstanding requests for audits that
had not been attended to and called that "simply staggering."
subcommittee report said the EPA Inspector General's office missed serious problems
discovered by Pentagon auditors and EPA procurement officials and ignored those
findings as well as investigations by the inspector general's regional office.
48 Superfund cases selected for investigation from 1984-90, the report said only
four percent resulted in any prosecution and only eight percent led to administrative
action such as employee dismissals.
The inspector general's own standards
rate an investigative manager's performance as unsatisfactory if fewer than 25%
of the closed cases lead to a criminal or administrative action.
the primary responsibilities of the press is to hold those in power accountable
for their actions. In this case, the taxpayers will be stuck with the bill while
the guilty parties once again avoid being held accountable.
RESEARCIIER: KATHY AANESTAD
SOURCE: LOS ANGELES TIMES (Associated Press) Times Mirror Square, Los
Angeles, CA 90037
TITLE: "EPA Fails to Pursue Fraud, Contract Abuse, Panel Says"
COMMENTS: Project Censored colleagues who have followed the
works of environmental writer Jim Sibbison in the past won't be surprised
at this nomination. In 1988, Sibbison wrote the #2 story of the year
where he revealed how reports of improvement in environmental pollution
levels were a deliberate attempt by the EPA to mislead and pacify the
public (Columbia Journalism Review, Nov/Dec 1988, "Dead fish and
red herrings: how the EPA pollutes the news"). Again, in 1989,
Sibbison, in the #22 story of the year, reported on the ethical question
of the revolving door between high level EPA officials and the industry
they reportedly are monitoring. (The Nation, 11 /6/89, "Revolving
Door at the EPA.")
In this year's nomination,
apparently an exception to Jeffrey Denny's story of the failure of Congressional
oversight (see # 14, page 44), the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight
and investigations attempted to expose an extraordinary case of EPA malfeasance
but the mass media didn't follow-up on the story.
The report, which cited
EPA auditors for failure to pursue potential fraud and waste in nearly $9 billion
of government contracts, in addition to 273 requests for audits not done, deserved
far more coverage than the 12-column inches the Los Angeles Times gave the Associated
Press story on page A4.