Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), the Capitol Hill Republican with a voluminous appetite for investigating the Obama administration, has told the Energy Department it is wasting thousands of pages of paper responding to his document requests.
“The Department has delivered more than 300,000 single-sided pages in a series of productions of uncategorized paper,” Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, wrote Energy Secretary Steven Chu last week.”This approach to producing documents wastes taxpayer dollars and is inconsistent with DOE’s stated commitment to reducing paper waste.”
Issa criticized the agency for failing to provide electronic copies of documents his committee has requested on numerous loan programs. DOE delivered 50 boxes of single-sided paper documents to the committee on a Friday in February, on top of 30 more boxes that had arrived earlier, said the letter, which was first described by The Hill newspaper.
The paper war underscores tensions between Issa and Obama administration officials, who have dispatched dozens of lawyers at a variety of agencies to comply with requests for information and subpoenas in investigations ordered by Issa’s committee.
The committee is conducting about ten probes of the Energy Department’s loan program alone, including a $535 loan guarantee to Solyndra, a bankrupt solar company whose work was touted by the White House.
An Obama administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly about Issa’s letter said the complaint about too much paper was ironic, given the cost to taxpayers of complying with the congressman’s requests.
“We’ve been saying for a year now that the sweeping requests for documents are too costly and too burdensome,” the official said. “We’re pleased to see that Chairman Issa finally agrees with us.”
Recently released House spending records show the Oversight Committee spent $7,424.05 on copying costs in 2011. An Issa spokeswoman declined to comment on what was being copied.