Issa cited more than $600,000 in spending by the public affairs office in recent years on elevator posters commemorating the Labor Department’s achievements, public relations contests and more than $100,000 to promote a book club.
Issa also criticized the use of taxpayer money to produce an internal magazine commemorating former Labor secretary Frances Perkins, travel by Fillichio to an awards ceremony in New York and the hiring of a Washington Nationals mascot for an agency event.
Fillichio did not return a phone call seeking comment.
A senior executive who held the same position under the previous Labor secretary, Hilda Solis, Fillichio is now senior adviser for public affairs and communications under Perez, overseeing the agency’s media and public affairs efforts, social and digital media, internal communications and Web site.
Labor Department spokesman Stephen Barr, in a statement, called the agency “responsible stewards of public funds.”
“We inform the public of our important mission and engage and educate our employees in creative, effective and appropriate ways,” Barr wrote. “Our internal communications efforts make a difference in employee satisfaction, retention and most importantly, performance. Better performance from our employees translates into better value for the public.”
Issa began investigating the public affairs operation after Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) wrote to the agency’s inspector general last February, asking him to look into the same issues, in addition to contracting “irregularities.” Issa’s probe was first reported by the Hill.
As a result of Coburn’s allegations, Inspector General Scott S. Dahl is conducting an audit of an agency contract, said an official with knowledge of the probe who was not authorized to speak publicly. It was unclear which contract is under review.