EPA inspector general warns sequestration will diminish agency transparency

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Environmental Protection Agency inspector general Arthur Elkins predicts that sequestration will make the agency less transparent, a warning that emerges even as Congress investigates top agency officials for avoiding transparency laws with banned email accounts.

“What we do is provide a level of transparency to agency operations that otherwise you wouldn’t see but for the IG shop,” Elkins told InsideEPA. “To the extent that our budget is affected on the negative side, it’s going to come out of FTEs [full-time equivalent staff]. Because our work is labor-intensive and because people do our work, if we have fewer FTEs, we have fewer people. You can do the math. That means there’s going to be fewer projects that are going to go out.”

EPA is hardly a model for transparency. Former administrator Lisa Jackson used a non-official email account under the alias “Richard Windsor” to conduct official business, in violation of agency rules. An ensuing investigation has uncovered “widespread” use of such anti-transparency tactics.

“EPA owes us all some answers about their absolute disregard for transparency, especially from their acting administrator or any potential nominee to be administrator,” Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said this week. Vitter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), learned that two regional administrators — including Jackson’s interim replacement — also used non-official email accounts for government work.



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