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.
It 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."
The 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
Of 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.
One of 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.
SSU CENSORED 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.