The Washington Post

Inspector general accuses EPA of blocking investigations


House lawmakers are examining whether a little-known department within the Environmental Protection Agency is blocking independent oversight efforts, as a federal investigator alleged in testimony he prepared for a hearing on Wednesday.

EPA Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan said in remarks for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that the EPA’s Office of Homeland Security, run by the office of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, is acting as a “rogue law enforcement organization.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. (AP/Alex Brandon).

Sullivan said political appointees within the EPA have impeded efforts to determine whether the agency’s 10-person Homeland Security division has engaged in prohibited activities, including compelling employees to sign nondisclosure agreements while it was investigating employee misconduct, computer security and external threats.

EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe said in prepared remarks for the hearing that the agency’s employees “work cooperatively to provide information to the Inspector General to ensure their important work is achieved.”

Perciasepe also said the EPA is committed to ensuring that the inspector general’s office is “successful in its efforts to root out waste, fraud, and abuse in every program office across the agency.”

The allegations against the Office of Homeland Security represent the latest development to cast doubt on the Obama administration’s ability to carry out effective oversight.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson last month placed former Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Charles Edwards on administrative leave after a congressional investigation found that he had tailored reports to the liking of top DHS political appointees.

Probe: DHS watchdog cozy with officials, altered reports as he sought top job 

Separately, the Office of Special Counsel investigation found that senior officials working for the Commerce Department inspector general threatened subordinates with negative performance reviews if they did not sign gag agreements around the time the OSC was investigating the IG for possible wrongdoing.

The House subcommittee that oversees the department issued a letter last month calling on Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser to fire two of his top managers over the findings. The probe found no evidence that Zinser was aware of the officials’ actions.

Questions also remain about why the Defense Department inspector general removed findings from a draft report that said former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta disclosed classified information about the Osama Bin Laden raid during a CIA awards speech attended by “Zero Dark Thirty” producer Mark Boal.

The final report, which the inspector general released in June 2013, did not include those details. It said the CIA took all appropriate measures to protect sensitive details from becoming public.

The House oversight committee plans to stream Wednesday’s hearing on the Office of Homeland Security live starting at 9:30 a.m.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks(at)washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, and The Fed Page for more federal news. Submit news tips and suggestions to

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
How to make Sean Brock's 'Heritage' cornbread
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
The signature dish of Charleston, S.C.
Play Videos
Why seasonal allergies make you miserable
John Lewis, 'Marv the Barb' and the politics of barber shops
What you need to know about filming the police
Play Videos
The Post taste tests Pizza Hut's new hot dog pizza
5 tips for using your thermostat
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
The signature drink of New Orleans
Next Story
Josh Hicks · May 6, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.