The chairman of a House subcommittee yesterday said he will seek a subpoena today for investigative documents that the Federal Emergency Management Agency refused to surrender for a hearing.
The House Science and Technology subcommittee on investigations canceled its hearing yesterday after FEMA Director Louis O. Giuffrida refused to release documents compiled by the FEMA inspector general about possible misconduct by agency contractors.
The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.), has been examining possible favoritism in the awarding of FEMA contracts and allegations that some companies used FEMA contract funds for entertainment and travel expenses for FEMA officials and guests.
In a letter to Gore last week, FEMA legislative liaison Ronald G. Eberhardt said releasing the documents "could lead to an embarrassing violation of privacy of both FEMA employes and citizens outside of the government . . . ."
Eberhardt acknowledged that the agency has "some indication that all aspects of the contractor performance, record keeping and billing practices were not fully proper . . . . There now appears to be certain matters that could involve violations of the U.S. Code."
Gore said yesterday that there are many precedents for congressional access to investigative documents. He accused FEMA officials of "stonewalling the subcommittee because they feel the information would be embarrassing to FEMA . . . . They are probably afraid they will get some bad publicity before the election."
FEMA spokesman James L. Holton yesterday said the agency recently asked the Justice Department to review the IG's findings and was told there were "no indications of criminal acts." He said many of the documents were raw notes made by aides to FEMA IG Robert C. Goffus, who reports directly to Giuffrida.