Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 12, 2016 5:25pm-7:26pm EST

5:25 pm
president electors will have coverage as they cast their ballots for president and vice-president beginning at 11:00 eastern, springfield, illinois, harrisburg, pennsylvania, lansing, mitch ganl and richmond, virginia. claire clear. c-span, will history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. that is brought to you by today by your cable or satellite providers. the number two official at the u.s. geological testified before house natural resources subcommittee regarding data manipulation between 1996 and 2014. this is about 1:10.
5:26 pm
the subcommittee on oversight investigations will come to order. subcommittee is meeting to hear testimony examining decades of data manipulation at the united states geological survey. under committee rule 4 f, any oral opening statements at hearings are limited to the chairman of the ranking minority member. therefore, i would ask unanimous consent that all other members opening statements will be made part of the hearing record if they're submitted to the clerk by 5:00 p.m. today. hearing no objection, so ordered. i will now recognize myself for five minutes for an opening statement. today, we'll be examining decades of data manipulation that occurred within the the u.s. geological surveys as well as failure to take corrective measures. usgs is considered to be the gold standard as scientific
5:27 pm
integrity and reliability. that image has now been indeliliably stained. incredibly, this committee has learned usgs had shut down the lab from the i.g. months after it happened. in 2015, the department of the interior scientific integrity review panel haviinvestigating matter concluded there was a chronic pattern of scientific misconduct, unquote, at the inorganic laboratory in colorado. the panel also concluded that the laboratory's chemist, quote, intentionally manipulated, unquote, data. these shocking findings have not only impugned the integrity of
5:28 pm
the usgs, but they've impugned the under pinnings of policy decisions that may have been taken as a result of the usgs research. i should note that we aren't taking just a few fudged numbers here and there. this involves research and personnel going all the way back to 1996. when the data manipulation was discovered in 2008, new employees were shuffled in and yet the fraud continued tainting thousands of sample results. you might wonder how no one in usgs management noticed the junk science coming from the lab. investigators offered one explanation pointing to the conscien conscience and inattentiveness in the laboratory and/or the
5:29 pm
center's management. while long-term costs to usgs's reputation may be incalcue babble, 2008-2014, it represented $108 million. this does not include a prior decade of data manipulation. we're still trying to find out the extent of the projects that were affected and any policy decisions that were executed with falsified data. liability of data we are provided as lawmakers across a spectrum of issues is now called into question. usgs is likely going to assure us that we will never -- it will never happen again, that new procedures are in place, manuals have been rewritten, new positions have been created and on and on with solutions to make us just want to forget all of this and get back to blind faith
5:30 pm
and federal science. however, in the discussion with our witness, i want one basic question answered. why? why did this happen with all the briefings held with staff, reports, and audits written, we still do not know why this occurred. usgs is said it was the lab, then account for variable calibrations and then said that wasn't it. finally, usgs offered up the excuse it was plain incompetence. i still don't buy it nearly 20 years of fraud, more than $100 million flushed down the toilet. this shouldn't be pinned on just one incompetent employee, who was remarkably replaced by another incompetent employee. not to mention, the fact that the recent fall guy sterling evaluations. the primary concern isn't just
5:31 pm
the mechanics of this fraud, there should be a clear explanation for why it happened. any proposed solution is meaningless without it. the first hearing in this newly created subcommittee was on the lack of accountability of federal science, and the consequences of politically driven side. lives have been destroyed by the federal employees, garbage science. let this hearing serve as a warning of in order to advance some agenda. the subcommittee will not tolerate such actions, hold accountable those who act in such a manner, and turn a blind eye. and i would just point out, as we said, the problems go back to 1996, and first discovered in 2008. this goes across republican and democratic party lines. this is a matter we need to get
5:32 pm
to the bottom of why it happened. so i appreciate your indulgence. at this time the chair reng recognizes ms. dingell. >> thank you for testifying today. the united states geological survey, or usgs, is one of the most esteemed scientific organizations in the world. the agency earned its reputation through 137 years of unparalleled insights into everything from earthquakes to clean drinking water, climate change to fossil fuel reserves. i also know how important the work is, because of the usgs great lakes science center, which is in my district, has played an important role to adopt the spread of asian carp in the great lakes. the effect of asian carp, if they become fully established in the great lakes, is enormous. which is why we requested that this subcommittee hold a hearing on just one aspect of the
5:33 pm
damage. the effect on great lake fisheries. in order to effectively protect that $4.5 billion in economic activity in the great lakes fisheries, we must have the best possible science from the best possible scientific institutions. in fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a congressional district that hasn't benefited from usgs's work, which is why it is so disappointing that you have been dealing with the scientific integrity issue. for 18 years, chemists at i small lab in colorado intentionally manipulated some of the data that they were hired to produce. none of the data was used to support any state or federal regulations. seven papers were delayed and one had to be retracted. usgs had the chance to correct it, when the data man place was first uncovered in 2008. but after they cleaned house, and hired new analysts and
5:34 pm
management, the same data manipulation continued, unaba d unabated, until it was discovered again in 2014. the investigations that followed uncovered other disturbing things. the lab was found to be slow. they took seven times as long to analyze their sample as they should have. they were slow to identify the manipulation. they were slow to act to correct it and prevent the problem from happening. they were slow to notify the customers. the investigation also found that management was asleep at the wheel. not only did management fail to catch the problem, one manager looked the other way for a few months. making matters worst, they presided over and may have facilitated a toxic workplace environment. offensive language and behavior created an atmosphere that was so intimidating, a scientific body concluded that it
5:35 pm
contributed to the substandard performance. indicating when a female employee tried to blow the whistle on it, management failed to support her. any organization that devalues women in their workplace will not last. the scientific integrity report cited this failure is one of the main reasons it recommended that the lab close permanently. the closure of this lab is a fair outcome. the usgs got a second chance to correct the problem, and they didn't. they shuld be held to a higher st standard and the closure was the right decision. being isolated to the organic lab, the closest comparison to the inorganic lab at usgs is the organic lab, which is reputable and in demand. the report by the scientific integrity review panel concluded that the organic laboratory section is an extremely
5:36 pm
productive, well organized structure laboratory that is conducting important scientific research. of course, the remainder of the agency continues to turn out science that is essential to the nation. at this point, there have been two inspector general reports, a number of external audits, a number of internal reviews and scientific integrity investigation. at this point, there have been more investigations than the number of analysts that were in the lab. i'll be interested to know what my colleagues on the other side think this hearing will add to the pile, and more specifically, how we can -- this new information will help the usgs become a stronger agency. after all, that's one of the primary functions of oversight. to improve the effectiveness of the agencies that serve the american people. so i hope we can focus today on making sure we can learn from the well-documented mistakes and ensure they won't be repeated. and let's focus on building the
5:37 pm
agency up, rather than tearing it down. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. it this time, the statements are limited to five minutes. the entire written statement will appear in the hearing record. when you begin, the light will turn green, as it is now. when you have one minute remaining, yellow light comes on. time expired, red light comes on. i'll ask you to conclude your statement. at this time, the chair recognizes mr. werkheiser for his testimony. >> chairman, ranking member dingell and members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i am bill werkheiser, deputy director of the u.s. geological survey. the u.s. geological survey has served the nation for 137 years. providing unbiased science for use by decision makers covering a wide range of policy issues. our reputation for scientific
5:38 pm
integrity is central for everything we do. that's why i'm here today. to address a serious breach of scientific integrity. it is not a proud day of our agency's employees. in my 30 years of federal service at usgs, this is my lowest moment. in 2014, usgs identified a potential incident of scientific misconduct at the inorganic chemistry lab in lake wood, colorado. a scientists had been making improper adjustments used to measure heavy metals and coal. all work in the laboratory was stopped, and an internal investigation was initiated. usgs also promptly reported the possibility of scientific misconduct to the office of inspector general. our investigation into the incident confirmed this data manipulation constituted scientific misconduct. this closely res -- resembled an
5:39 pm
occurrence that happened in 2008. personnel problems, including hostile work environment. i suspect your questions are the same as mine. why didn't we know of it sooner. how could it have happened in the first place. how did it go on for so long without being detected. following the recommendations of the investigation, the usgs closed the inorganic section. laboratory effective march 1, 2016. all the employees in the scientific incidents are no longer employed by the usgs. we posted public notice of the incident, contacted customers of the inorganic lab, and carefully reviewed work products that could have been made use of manipulated data from the lab, all failure is a serious matter. misconduct and mismanagement will not be tolerated. my job is to ensure a situation like this is never able to occur again.
5:40 pm
we are undertaking significant steps to enhance data quality assurance and quality control procedures. fr first, investigate the programs, data quality assurance and quality control procedures. secondly, i established a strategic lab committee to ensure all the laboratory assets are managed to best sport science mission of the usgs p. third, the energy program quality management system to replace current procedures. will will include external review and international benchmarking. fourth, we've hired a manager that reports to headquarters to avoid conflict of interest, as well as two quality specialists. taken together, these steps will ensure that any future data quality problems are identified quickly, and dealt with immediately. in our 137 year history, the
5:41 pm
usgs has built a strong reputation on providing information critical to the nation. for example, our sciences help protect communities in the lava flows and prevent catastrophic rupture along the alaska pipeline. most recently, an assessment that 20 billion barrels in west texas. we do and have done important work in this nation. but none of that excuses or explains this incident. i'm committed to upholding the reputation for scientific integrity. we will continue to address the issues. we'll make all changes necessary to prevent it from happening again. throughout these incidents, we have tried to be accountable and transparent to the committee and the public. we have worked with your staff to provide briefings, documents, and other relevant information as quickly as possible, and prioritize a delivery of the most critical documents to assist in your oversight. to date, we have provided 270
5:42 pm
documents consisting of more than 4,000 pages responsive to 27 of your 30 specific requests. we anticipate supplying the remaining outstanding documents as soon as possible. thank you again for the opportunity to testify today. i'm here to answer any questions you might have. >> all right, thank you, mr. werkheiser. it this time, we do appreciate your testimony. we appreciate you being here. i know it is not the most fun to do. but we will begin the questioning, and i'll recognize myself for five minutes. you've talked about the troubling aspect of this issue, but like i mentioned in the opening statement, i mean, going back to 1996? that's during the clinton administration. through 2008, that's the bush administration. to 2014, that's the obama
5:43 pm
administration. i have to tell you, mr. werkheiser, when i first got elected, i can remember going, walking around, steven foster university and they've done some great work in conjunction with the u.s. geological society, i looked at the stuff from the usgs, and my thought, i mean, going back to high school, wow, usgs, this is really quality stuff. and i got the high grade in science in my high school for, well, i remember seeing usgs, wow, this is really impressive. this is really quality stuff. as we talked about the gold standard. so it is really hearbreaking to think about all of the great work that has been done to build this phenomenal reputation of the us geological society that, to come around to the point where we are now, we've had
5:44 pm
years of just falsity and fraud, manipulating data. you get rid of one employee, and really, it doesn't sound like there were a lot of consequences there. that's deeply troubling. if somebody is falsifying data, it ought to be a blight on their total reputation, and their professionalism. but i come back to the question i mentioned in my opening statement. so to what end, why the continued falsification and manipulated -- manipulation of data? do you have an answer to the why? i mean, as a lawyer, i was taught never answer the question why. but i really, truly want to know. >> i share your concern. i was appalled and devastated when i learned of this incident.
5:45 pm
like you, when i was in school, i learned of the usgs through an article, usgs best at what it does in the world. that made me want to become part of usgs. so i was deeply, deeply appalled when i learned about this incident. while i can't look into the minds of the analysts involved, what i can say is that with this instrument, when the raw information comes off, it often needs to be adjusted to comply with standards that are run -- >> mr. werkheiser, we heard that originally. you have to change it some, because of the calibration. but then it turned out, we heard from usgs, well, that really doesn't explain all of the falsification that we got here. so i appreciate that position, but we heard that before. and then it turned out that really wasn't the proper explanation. so let's try again. do you have some other explanation? why? >> so the issue is that those adjustments were well outside of
5:46 pm
established standards. so the -- while i can't look into the mind of the person -- >> you've said that twice now. but the fact is, you can ask the scientists why. did you ever ask these people why did you do this? >> yes, they were asked why. their explanation was that they felt those manipulations were justified, when in fact, they were not. and we looked at, to see if there was a pattern of that manipulation. it was consistently high, higher than the value should it have been, lower than the value, trying to drive some agenda to falsify that. there was no consistent bias in that information. sometime it is was high, sometime it is was low. and in fact, the way the samples are submitted, there is no way for them to know what the samples will be used for, the project is not identified. so i cannot explain exactly why,
5:47 pm
except for what they tell us. it was an effort to inn their minds to provide more accurate information, which is absolutely not the case. >> that's total irony. you manipulate data in order to make it more accurate. that is totally in congruent. well, what do you believe the long-term effects of usgs's reputation in the science field? i mean, you got university students that are now going, what are we supposed to do? this is totally bogus science here. >> this is damaging to our reputation. absolutely no doubt about that. and so all i can do is to ensure that we rebuild and regain the reputation. the four steps i outlined before, bringing the national academy of sciences to evaluate our protocols to help us into the future. the establishment of our stlaty gick laboratory committee, to look at all our assets, every
5:48 pm
lab, the im plplementation of a quality management system. >> has that been done? >> quality management system is under yea. >> my time is expired. i recognize ms. dingell. >> thank you, mr. chairman. deputy director werkheiser, because i so value usgs' work, and that it does, the people that work there i want to ask you about the workplace environment at the lab. as you know, the scientific integrity review panel was appalled to learn there was a toxic work environment, by use of offensive language and behavior, end quote. it appears to be created at least in part by lab analyst that was flippant and difficult to work with. when a female staff member brought the issue to the attention of two levels of management, management and human relations appeared to have failed adequately address the
5:49 pm
harassment. she was reportedly one of the several recipients of bullying behavior in the lab. while it sounds like it is not a case of sexual harassment, because it happened to men and women, it is a case of harassment that apparently also and for a very long time without being addressed. in fact, it might not have been discovered at all or paid attention to, even though it was being reported, if not for this particular scientific integrity investigation. i want to know, how in the absence of this kind of investigative report and other parts of usgs can we know that such a hostile work environment has not taken root elsewhere in the agency? >> thank you for the question. i also was deeply disturbed to learn of the hostile work environment at play here. i was appalled at that environment. so the main question of how can we be assured that this doesn't
5:50 pm
happen elsewhere in the agency is one of great importance to me. i'll point to two things, it is not a culture within usgs. the two things i'll point the department of interior. we look at our federal viewpoint survey results, we consistently score higher and these results are used to evaluate employee engagement and employee satisfaction. those results are consistently higher than the department and consistently higher than the government overall. however, those are just statistics. even one instance of hostile environment or sexual harassment is one too many. so our job is how do we ensure -- how do we ensure we have a workplace where people feel safe and are comfortable bringing issues forward of this nature and not be afraid of any type of retaliation or retribution.
5:51 pm
so in doing that, we take it very seriously and we're undertaking a number of things that's happening. first, all the executives in the usgs have attended training on workplace environment, workplace culture. that training will be cascaded through the organization. until every employee has made that training, is made aware. the other thing we've done, looking at this case in particular, it's clear that the employee did not feel comfortable coming forward. so we need to have advocates for employees who represent their interest and they can go to confidentially and not be concerned about any retribution or any type of stigma attached to coming forward. so we're working with the department of interior to make our employees have access to a person, at least one, maybe several, to ensure confidentiality and advocacy.
5:52 pm
the other thing i will say is that our director takes this issue very seriously. she has issued several memos and communications with employees on the issue. she has developed a work group to work at workplace issues. and reaching out to organizations such as the american geosciences institute and the american geophysical institute, our union, to look at the processes and the lessons learned, best practices from those very large institutions and bringing those into the usgs. >> let me quickly ask you two questions. i work there and i want to report a harass men. how can i do that, be assured my whistleblower will remain confidential to all including my supervisor? and how do i know it will be investigated fairly, thoroughly, and promptly? >> we have worked with office of diversity and equal opportunity. that's where those claims are looked at and investigated.
5:53 pm
we've had that looked at by eeoc i guess several years ago now. they determined that our systems were not totally adequate, to sure what you asked, that confidentiality and that ability to look and investigate an issue fully without any type of stigma attached to it. so we're revising our policies in our office. we're working with our department to do that. >> thank you, miss dingell. i really do appreciate you're getting into that issue like that. i was reminded in very recent years, we actually impeached a couple of judges. one of them was about the workplace environment harassment of the women on his staff, and he should have been thrown out of office for the things he was doing. i'm wondering out loud here, maybe we need to encourage
5:54 pm
people who work in the federal government, if you've got a hostile workplace environment, maybe we need to know and drag those people up here and over the coals so people can feel if they are tempted to abuse people working for them, particularly women working for them, you'll get a chance to come up here and be totally humiliated in front of the whole world. we'll have to keep that in mind. at this time, i recognize mr. labrador for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for mr. werkheiser for being here today. in reviewing some of the facts today, do you believe the chemist most directly involved with the data manipulation was qualified for the job? >> using the instrument he started on in 2010, i believe it was 2009, yes. new instrumentation waw procured
5:55 pm
in 2012 and evidence indicates he was not qualified to operate that instrument. >> it appears other employees in the inorganic chemistry lab were aware the chemist didn't have sufficient information to do the job. they described rudimentary, ie, freshman college level. the sirp report team called this incomprehensible, that this chemist in question was hired to work within this facility without possessing adequate data processing skills. this man was a 30-year employee of the usgs working with expensive equipment, handling projects with a value in excess of $100 million. how did he maintain his employment? >> he most of his career was working in a different lab doing different things. he was transferred to the inorganic chemistry lab i believe in 2009 or 2010 where he took over those new duties. so it was clearly a management
5:56 pm
failure and management failure at several levels. we, again, through these procedures and through this quality management system implementation, we intend to make sure that doesn't happen again. or if it does happen, we catch it quickly and take appropriate action. >> so i'm trying to understand, because you, mr. werkheiser, you're one of the best witnesses that i have ever seen in congress. i really want to praise you for taking responsibility. you seem to really care about your job, so i'm trying to understand how this happened with somebody that really cares about what they are doing, you have so much pride in the work that you do, how did this happen? have you thought about that? >> i've thought about it often, long and hard. the responsibility for insuring our responsibilities are doing their jobs and are accountable for their jobs resides in all levels of management, from supervisor to the director of the u.s. geologist survey. failures along that way are
5:57 pm
inexcusable. i need to do a better job of holding my supervisor accountable and that will trickle down through the organization. >> i'm concerned by this and think everything should be concerned, as you are. here we have employees of what has already been described as the gold standard of scientific institutions, and they do not have the basic knowledge necessary to enter data into a computer. how do we know this is not happening in other labs in denver or every other federal lab in the country? >> we have a number of labs throughout the country. in fact, one of the labs in denver that you just mentioned is our national water quality lab. whereas the lab in question, organic geochemistry lab processed 575 samples a year. they process about 35,000 to 40,000 samples a year. so it's much larger, employs a much larger staff. the quality controls at that denver lab are stringent. it's a best practice. it's recognized.
5:58 pm
it's reviewed often by external agencies. there are other labs, most labs across usgs, that have that type of volume and that type of stature, have similar quality management systems in place. we have other labs that are research labs. those are staffed by one or two people. they do work for their project. they may be developing methods that don't exist at this time. we would be looking at unique types of constituents. those quality management systems are not as robust because they don't exist. but our new effort to implement here, this quality management system, will eventually encompass all those labs. >> so can you give us some reason to continue to have faith in the research produced by the usgs? >> yes. i think, as i said, i'm confident this was an isolated example. we have other quality assurance measures in place. for example, at the project, many of the projects have their
5:59 pm
own quality assurance procedures in place. they actually caught a number of the issues and did not use that information in there because they have this quality assurance procedures. >> does the energy resources program at lakewood facility have a fully functional quality management system in place? >> not at this time. that's what's being implemented now. >> how is it possible it's taken this long to still not have a quality management system? >> we've had quality management systems. they were not effective as we mentioned in the opening statement. there had been a number of reviews, in particular, in this lab. there were -- after the 2008 incident there was internal review by a team outside the lab, an external review in 2012 that had 29 recommendations that were implemented, but it was the responsibility of the local management to implement those recommendations and they were slow to do that. so those previous efforts were not successful.
6:00 pm
so we need to ensure this future effort is successful. we believe that the robust system we put in place, even though it will take some time to put in place is the right way to go. it's the right way to do it. we've tried other ways that have not been effective. >> like i said, i've really enjoyed you as a witness and i want to believe you. the fact we don't have this system in place is very concerning to all of us. >> thank you. at this time the chair recognizes mr. westerman for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and mr. werkheiser, thank you for your pretty much raw testimony today. i know this is not the first time this issue has been discussed in this committee. the last time there was only a little bit of smoke and we thought there was probably some fire. i think you verified that there was wrongdoing and definitely fire associated with this, figuratively speaking, obviously. i would like to commend the chairman and ranking member.
6:01 pm
i think this is a sign of the seriousness of this issue that scientific, intellectual integrity is an important thing to everyone. it crosses party lines. it's something that we simply cannot tolerate. if you look at the founding of our greatest educational institutions in this country that even predate the constitution, the motto of harvard means truth. look at yale, transparency and truth. this nation has held that to be paramount for a long time. when issues like this happen, it troubles us. personally i've worked as an engineer for over 20 years and i used usgs data. it makes me think that i make professional decisions that i'm accountable for based on flawed data, even though it wasn't this data, but it was usgs data.
6:02 pm
there are thousands and thousands of people across the country that have experienced that. so when we think about what's happened and how to move forward, and why we as members of congress and keepers of the taxpayers' dollar, why should we continue to invest in usgs, i think we need a better answer. i know that this data may not have been used directly in policy, but how much of this data was used by people in industry, people in research. how much of it -- talk about testing coal and heavy metals, were there bad decisions made that resulted in somebody doing something in a process that harmed the environment? were there decisions made that prevented someone from using something in a process that caused economic damage?
6:03 pm
i think we need a better explanation that you go back and find out exactly why this data was manipulated, what the far reaching effects are. there's a proverb that says that if a thief is caught, he should repay it seven times over. and i think usgs needs to do a more in-depth investigation so that we feel comfortable that the problem has been rectified and won't happen again. so are there any efforts under way to go back and trace the knowledge trail to see where this data might have been used? even public opinion may have been influenced by articles that were written based on this research, which actually could affect policy decisions. so where are you in the process of actually going back and uncovering the real damage that was done? >> we're continuing to investigate the original information. part of the issue and part of the reason that makes it so bad
6:04 pm
is that good records -- standard procedures for keeping records were not kept. so the raw data that came off was not necessarily archived. however, we have gone back and we've retrieved a number of -- significant amount of information from other sources. we're evaluating what that manipulation exactly looked like. how severe was it? can we recreate what values have been? we did not have that information when we started this investigation. we have some of that now. we're hoping to go back and learn from that. we were also making an effort to go back and, as you say, take a look at stakeholders that may have used products from this lab. most of those were internal. we feel confident that none of the data used from at least this latest incident made it into the public domain. that the projects that used, had those analysis run were able to capture it.
6:05 pm
they were able to -- it was definitely insufficient and cost money, but they were able to use other means to reach their conclusions, multiple lines of evidence. >> twenty years of research and none of this ever got outside of the usgs? >> i should have been clear. it was the latest incident from 2009 to 2014. we cannot evaluate the previous, 1996 to 2008, that information doesn't exist. however, we have talked to scientists who used that information, who had projects back in that timeframe, and we're evaluating potential impacts from that. the other thing we're doing, we're looking at those 33 projects that used the information from the latest incident and are trying to backtrack that to look at all stakeholders so even if the data did not make it into the public domain, there may have been informal communications and
6:06 pm
other, and we're trying to backtrack that also. >> maybe do research on where the lab was cited back 20 years ago in other research papers and also the amount of time. when do you expect to have that report to us on the effects of manipulated data? >> it will take several months to do that investigation. certainly as soon as what we have, we'll be happy to come and talk to you about it. >> yield back, mr. chairman. >> chair recognizes mr. hice for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. werkheiser, thank you for being here to answer pressing questions. obviously, it's disturbing to all of us. disturbing to you as well. i'm sure you've communicated that. when you've got decades of falsified manipulated data, we
6:07 pm
all recognize it's inexcusable, phenomenal to me something like that can take place for so long and either not be checked or be overlooked, whichever the case was. it's inexcusable. then we find as you mentioned, 2008 when a new scientist was brought in, he immediately begins doing the same thing. and earlier, in fact, this year receives a 30-year service award. it sounds like a resume enhancer to come in and be involved in data manipulation. but the fact that it was intentional, the fact that it was continuous is very difficult to wrap my mind around. i'm sure others feel the same way. let's go to this second chemist, the new chemist that came in.
6:08 pm
we already had from 1996 to 2008 a long period of manipulated data. we finally have a new chemist come in and in 2014 discover that chemist as i mentioned earlier and chairman as well, had also been manipulating data. how long did that chemist stay on the payroll after his fraudulent activity was discovered? >> so in october 2014, an order was issued and that chemist was involved in trying to recreate the work he had done. personnel actions were started, were initiated. i believe it was in june 2016 is
6:09 pm
when the separation took place. >> june 2016 after he received a 30-year length of service award. did he retire and get full benefits? >> i'd be happy -- i can't -- >> please provide that information. i'd be curious to know. two years he still remained on the payroll. what was he doing? >> so trying to recreate the information that was in question. >> trying to recreate the falsified information? >> trying to justify his actions to the investigative bodies, the various bodies that went through that lab. >> so we were -- we, taxpayers -- were paying for a guy who manipulated data to justify why he manipulated it. is that what you're telling us? >> to look at exactly the questions you had asked. why did this happen, how did it happen? >> that sounds to me like it could be done through interrogation rather than giving him two years on the payroll.
6:10 pm
>> our personnel processes are complex. >> so did no one interrogate him? >> they certainly questioned him. >> i don't want to use that word, interrogate. did no one try to sit down and have -- get the facts on the table? >> several times. >> did it take two years of him doing it on his own, being paid? i don't understand this. sounds to me like a brief slap on the wrist and he continues on the payroll until he's ready to retire after he receives an award. >> so the length of service, that's exactly what it says. you work for 30 years, and you get recognized for that. >> let's not go on. my time's almost -- what disciplinary actions do you have against employees who commit data manipulation and fraud? or commit something against supervisors? >> right.
6:11 pm
there are various penalties, including suspension without pay up to separation from the agency. >> but that obviously didn't occur in this case? >> the action was initiated, yes. >> after two years. >> no, i mean, it was initiated right away, but -- >> what does initiating incur? >> the investigation is complex, it takes time -- >> my question has to do with what discipline action was taken. >> again, i'd be happy to
6:12 pm
provide that information. >> provide the information. mr. werkheiser, it seems that would be something you would come to this committee hearing prepared to answer. >> i cannot answer. >> mr. chairman, i have one further question. okay, thank you, sir. thank you. this subcommittee has repeatedly asked since the september 23rd letter for the performance evaluation, these two chemists who committed the manipulation. to this point, we have still not received those evaluations. when can we expect to receive that? >> that information has left the usgs. it's at the department being reviewed at this time. part of the reason it took so long to produce is that we had to retrieve that information from opm, and when the information came, much of that information was nonresponsive to the specific request, so we went through it and brought out the information, specific information requested that is now at the department being reviewed and will be here as soon as -- >> all due respect, sir, we are the ones that want to review that information and we are the ones who requested it, and we expect it. when will we receive that? >> it is at the department, and we, as i'm sure you're aware -- >> can you give me a timeline, general? >> approximately two weeks. >> thank you, sir. and i yield back. thank you for your indulgence, mr. chairman. >> thank you. at this time, mr. radewagen is recognized for five minutes.
6:13 pm
>> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your appearance today, mr. werkheiser. i assume the lab lost a significant amount of credibility when the disclosure was made. what's really amazing and troubling among many details of this case is that the lab went ahead as if nothing occurred, and you doubled down on a $174,000 piece of equipment that no one either knew how to operate, cared enough to operate correctly, or was even interested enough to oversee. how do you justify buying a new piece of equipment like a mass spectrometer when no one was willing to verify that it was operated correctly? >> in any situation, any laboratory situation, upgrades to equipment are a common business practice, and we need to stay on the forefront of technology. so, when new equipment comes out, oftentimes, i know in my
6:14 pm
experience in the water quality laboratory, when those equipments, the new generation of equipment comes out, they process more samples in a shorter amount of time, and are more efishen eenan ee een effi processing of that information. plus, they provide information that's more accurate, more reliable. so the purchase of equipment is a standard business practice that occurs throughout our labs. in this case, the critical failure was in not training this individual, not ensuring that this individual had the appropriate training and background to operate the equipment appropriately, and that is a management failure, and that, again, is something that we recognize and that we will move forward to correct as part of some of the tasks we're undertaking to improve the quality of our laboratories. >> we have one report stating the lab had an average turnaround time of 224 days to process samples.
6:15 pm
did the lab have a reputation for long turnaround times to process samples? >> it did, much longer than could be achieved in private laboratories. so, in addition to the scientific misconduct and integrity issues, the decision to close the lab also included those operational issues, such as turnaround time and efficiency and value to the taxpayer. >> so, coupled with knowledge that the lab had a history of inaccuracies and slow turnaround, why was management so complacent, or as the scientific integrity review panel described, characterized by conscious acquiescence and inattentiveness? didn't that ultimately let the fraud continue until 2014? >> yes. it clearly was a management failure. and as managers and as supervisors, we owe it to the taxpayer and to this country to
6:16 pm
hold ourselves and our employees accountable. that did not happen in this case. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> all right. thank you. we do have a few more questions. for one thing, you heard from the ranking member that the srp reported that a culture of harassment existed at the lab. i mean, that is so incredibly serious. and by the way, we've been going through this hearing all this time, and i don't believe a single name has been mentioned. we are covered by speech and debate clause privilege regarding things that are said on the record, but for the record, i would like to have -- who was the person who was manipulating the data beginning back in 1996? we haven't even heard a name.
6:17 pm
people need to know. >> i would be happy to tell that in private. my advice is because this is being broadcast, because of privacy concerns, i should not -- >> well, that's the whole reason i asked. if somebody has harassed, making an abusive workplace, i want their name out there. they should not be provided protection from having their name mentioned. and with regard to privacy concerns, that's what i'm saying, this is -- this is protected. you don't have to worry about lawsuits. but if somebody is abusing female employees, i think it's good to talk about, like we did in judiciary when we had a judge doing that. i would like for any man that is
6:18 pm
tempted to do that to realize that some day his name is going to be brought up in a broadcast. >> what i can say is those employees are no longer with the u.s. geological survey. i'd be happy to provide that information to you privately. my advice has been not to provide that publicly because of the public nature of this hearing. >> mr. chairman, i do think that we need to make the point, this is still under active investigation and that the committee probably has a right at the end of the investigation to ask for the finding. so, is that correct, that this is still under active investigation? >> yes. >> therefore -- >> that's the case, okay. it's still under active investigation, so the investigation's not concluded. is that right? >> well, not -- the overall investigation is not. those employees are no longer with the u.s. geological survey, but there is still an active component going on.
6:19 pm
>> an active component to what? >> to learn exactly what happened, what the nature of the issues were, how severe it was. it's not a formal investigation, but we are still investigating the issue. >> mr. chairman, again, so i had had questions about how were they allowed to retire, what were the circumstances, were people held accountable. are we going to ultimately get that report? i shared your concern, too. >> yes -- >> i was told it was still under active investigation. they didn't have that yet. but i think this committee would like to see it when you do -- >> right, exactly. >> we can certainly provide that to the committee, yes. >> all right, thank you. well, i would very much like to have that information. and if the investigation has formally concluded, you say there may be some informality in the continuation. well, if it's formally
6:20 pm
concluded, i would like this committee to have access to that information to know who was creating the problem, and i don't care if they retired or not. there need to be consequences, even if at a minimum it's having your name discussed on the record as someone who was abusing the employees under your supervision. so, you are agreeing to get us that information? >> yes. >> with regard to the investigation? >> yes. >> okay. and i do want to follow up with a couple more questions. did the lab management take the discovery of the second instance of continuous data manipulation seriously? >> yes. when the second incident was discovered, the lab management acted immediately to notify the program, the energy resources
6:21 pm
program at headquarters. and initiated an internal investigation from our office of science, quality and integrity. that investigation eventually led to notification to the office of inspector general, as self-reported. and the science center management generated all those requests. >> well, the reason i ask is that the sirp noted that the lab's lead physical scientist quality assurance officer asserted, and i'm quoting, that "all activities related to the sirp are not necessary" and that the situation has "been blown completely out of proportion." that sounds like it was not taken seriously. >> so, the qaqc person was not in the management chain.
6:22 pm
they're not a supervisor. the person in the management chain took it very seriously and reported it. >> well, did the laboratory's culture fostered by the u.s. geological survey promote an environment where a person who would feel comfortable coming forward to expose the wrongdoing? >> that is our -- that is our job. that is our job is to create that environment. >> well, i know it's the job. the question is about whether it was done. >> in this case, i don't believe enough was done to create that environment. >> the sirp found that whistle-blowing related to the second incidence of data manipulation created, quote, a feeling of mistrust and resentment present at all levels, unquote. so, it sounds like there is a lot more work that needs to be done there. >> i would certainly agree. >> all right.
6:23 pm
>> i yield to the gentleman from arkansas for five minutes. >> thank you, again, mr. chairman. mr. werkheiser, one thing that still troubles me is something in the response in the letter that you sent to chairman gohmert. it says that we have been unable to determine either the rationale for the data manipulation or any consistent calculations that the analyst used in performing those data manipulations. is that still being investigated, or is that your final say on it? >> so, the analyst in question has been consistent in his responses, that he viewed that he was doing an appropriate adjustment to the data, even though it's clear that it has not. so i don't think any further
6:24 pm
questioning of that person is going to yield anything different than that. the investigation of was there a pattern, is there a consistent, as to what, how that manipulation happened, the extent to what it was and the reasons for it is still under investigation, since we've been able to identify some of that through notebooks and those type of things. some of that information we're trying to recreate what exactly happened. >> so there is still investigation going on to try to determine the rationale? >> yes. >> okay. the june 2016 department of the interior inspector general report noted that the second case of continuous data manipulation at the lakewood facility affected at a minimum projects that received $108 million in funding. however, what remains unclear is the dollar value of the projects that were impacted by the data manipulation that occurred at the lab between '96 and 2008. and we talked about that a little bit earlier, about the records.
6:25 pm
could you tell the committee what was the aggregate dollar value of the projects that were affected during this earlier 12-year course of data manipulation? >> we've been trying to assemble that information. actually, i do not have that information, but i would like to follow up on the $108 million figure. that represents the total funding for those projects that used the lab. the actual value of those samples that were analyzed is much less than that. so, the projects and the results they make, they use many lines of evidence, they use outside labs, they use a number -- it represents the entire effort to produce a report or assessment. the value of the impacted from the laboratory is probably a tenth of that. >> do you know how many projects were in the time period? we have the dollar amount, but what was the number of projects affected? >> in the second incident, it is
6:26 pm
22 projects. we actually do not -- we do not have the information for that first incident. >> you don't even know how many projects there were? >> not for the first one. those records just don't exist back that far. we have partial records, but dating back to '96. that was prior to an automated laboratory information management system. that was put in place in 2010. >> do you -- hopefully, you can understand the heartburn that it creates. >> i do. >> that there is a federally funded research lab with no data or no backup. >> i do understand that on the financial side. we will try to recreate as much of that as we can. >> even on the research side. >> well, certainly on the research side i think we can -- we know that the -- do we know how many projects? okay.
6:27 pm
we do not know. >> and no way to find out? >> i will go back and -- >> i had a follow-up question about did any of the data derive from the lab during this period affect any federal legislation or regulation, federal or state. if you don't even know what projects were done, obviously, there is no way to determine if the research affected any state or federal regulations. >> i cannot address that with any certainty. that's true. >> i guess with that, mr. chairman, i'm at a loss for words. >> mr. hice, do you have any further questions? all right, i would like to thank the witness, mr. werkheiser, thank you for being here. and appreciate the participation of the members and the ranking member. obviously, this is a reminder
6:28 pm
why we must be vigilant and make every effort to hold executive branch accountable to the taxpayers. while i hope this revelation of mass data manipulation is limited in scope, it's only through careful examination we can learn and move through and move forward with confidence. and you know, it's normally an assurance to the public that we have this republican, small "r," form of government, where we have representatives. and if one party or one administration is manipulating or providing an abusive work environment, then it's always been a bit of a comfort, well, that changes, and the next one coming in will surely correct that. we have seen just an outrageous example of how none of those safeguards worked.
6:29 pm
none of the checks and balances worked. and then we have someone whose name i want to say on the record when we get the information, but you've got people creating a hostile work environment, you've got people totally manipulating data, fraudulent activity. a person involved in it is replaced to bring an end only to see that continue on? it just is staggering. and as we said at the beginning, and i think the ranking member and i, i mean, we have always thought of the u.s. geological survey as just the gold standard. and now i'm not even sure it merits a mercury standard. i mean, it's changing and moving and doesn't seem to have much of a form. it's like a terrible joke about
6:30 pm
what would you like the answer to be. i mean, anyway, as much as i'd like to dismiss this issue, we just cannot. as the facts come out, it seems to just open more and more questions. how did this go on over the span of three decades with the procedures, policy and management over the course of 18 years? how does this happen? i know the u.s. geological survey wants to put this behind them, but as a committee, we cannot close the books on this when the administration witness shows up with a two-sentence explanation. this was a chance to get the record straight. now we've been assured we'll get -- you will get us additional information when the investigation is concluded, but i would suggest to you that we're still waiting for documents that we requested three months ago. some of the documents we did receive were redacted, they were
6:31 pm
duplicates, or even blank pages. this document i'm holding up here -- "record of ic-2000-2011." that's page 1, cover sheet. page 2, it's blank. but page 3, it's blank. page 4 -- and it's a comfort because this says -- this page, like all these pages. it's only for our committee use. it's a blank piece of paper. page 5. this is only for committee use. it's a blank piece of paper. i don't know what you were expecting this committee, whether it's this side of the aisle or that side of the aisle, what's a committee supposed to do? are we supposed to play tic-tac-toe on this?
6:32 pm
for committee use only, page 6, 7, blank pieces of paper. oh, we have little bit on page 8. again, a blank piece of paper on page 9. 10, we at least have a few things on that. 11, another blank piece of paper. this is extraordinary. i mean, it's unbelievable. the federal government, regardless of administration, the federal government is being reduced to a joke, except it is so deadly serious. so, the gold standard, it's not even a good toilet paper standard. so, when you submit the additional information, please give us something besides blank
6:33 pm
pieces of paper, because otherwise, at the hearing where we get into the names of people who have dishonored the government, dishonored themselves, dishonored those who worked under them, we don't want to have to bring up your name as one of those that has dishonored the committee. you've been very gracious to come up here and to try to deal with this issue. what we hope is as this administration comes to a close, the integrity and transparency will be restored. the department of interior will abandon entrenched ideologies that have been going on for over three decades and finally hold wro wro wrongdoers accountable. because one way or another, this committee is going to hold wrongdoers accountable, and we want to make sure that your name is not one of those who is helping cover for people who have done wrong over the years. will you bear with me just one moment?
6:34 pm
with that, let me also mention the ranking member dingell, other members on the committee may have some additional questions for the witness. and under our rules, if any member has additional questions, you will be required to respond to those. and we're not talking about blank pieces of paper with a stamp on it, it's for committee's use only. under committee rule 4h, the hearing record will be held open for ten business days to provide those responses after such questions, if any, are asked. if there is no further business, then at this time, the committee stands adjourned.
6:35 pm
6:36 pm
tonight on the communicators, verizon's executive vice president of public policy talks about the company's changes over recent years. including the purchase of aol and the proposed acquisition of yahoo. he also discussed the need for a massive fiber buildout that could be part of the infrastructure program being considered by president-elect trump and congress. he's interviewed by john mckinnon, technology reporter for the wall street journal. >> we're building the fiber deeper and deeper in the network. that means increasingly when we talk about wireless networks, 90% of that is fiber. i mention the internet of things and smart cities. you look at what cities are trying to do, you need a massive
6:37 pm
fiber to do that. >> watch the communicators tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. >> c-span student cam documentary contest is in full swing. this year, we're asking students to tell us what's the most important issue for the new president and the new congress to address in 2017. joining me is ashley, she's a former student cam winner of 2015, for her documentary, help for homeless heroes. tell us about your student cam documentary. >> so my partner and i produced a documentary where we covered issues of homeless veterans on the streets of orange county, california. we decided that these sort of people who have fought for our country, who have given their all for our country, and the fact that they are now living on the street, not having family, not having anyone to care for them, were not okay. so we decided that we were going to talk about this issue within our community, and we decided to make a c-span documentary about
6:38 pm
it. i encourage all seniors in high school, even juniors in high school, even middle schoolers to use this platform to speak their voice, to raise their voice, to say that your generation deserves to be heard in the government and there is a better place to speak these issues, this is it. i think my advice for the students who are on the fence of starting the documentary is to really look into your community and see what is affecting those who are around you, because they are the ones who you see the most, they're the ones who you surround yourself with almost every day. so if there is an issue that you see happen every day on the street, that's probably where you can start. be a part of this documentary because you will want to be a voice for your community. >> thank you, ashley, for all your advice and tips. if you want more information on our student cam documentary
6:39 pm
contest, go to our website, studentcam.org. senate majority leader mitch mcconnell today held his year end news conference where he said he supports an investigation into russian intervention in this year's presidential election. >> senator, from what you understand, do you believe that the russian potentially was trying to sway this election to donald trump? >> as i indicated, the reason i read that statement is i think that pretty thoroughly covers what i'm prepared to say about that issue. >> and you said, you talked about an investigation. do you support a separate bipartisan investigation, a commission in any way, or do you want to do this through the intelligence committee? >> we're going to follow the regular order. it's an important subject. and we intend to review it on a bipartisan basis. >> you embedded in your statement a critique of the
6:40 pm
obama administration reset with russia or attempt to warm with russia. is it likewise concerning to you the signals coming from the new administration, at least from the top of it, of a different attitude, orientation, and more friendliness toward russia? >> well, let me speak for myself. the russians are not our friends. invaded crimea. center mccain and i and some of our democrat, friends met with a dellicatiegation from the balti countries just this past week to say they're nervous about the russians, to put it mildly. let me also say, as i said last year, nato's important. we intend to keep the commitments that are made in the nato agreement, which i think by any objective standard has been the most successful military alliance in history, and we ought to approach all of these
6:41 pm
issues on the assumption that the russians do not wish us well. >> presidential electors meet a way from today in their state capitols and c-span will have coverage from four states as the electors cast their ballots for president and vice president. we'll have live coverage from springfield, illinois, harrisburg, pennsylvania, lancing, michigan, and richmond, virginia. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. a house commerce subcommittee is looking into the safety of mixed martial arts, also called mma, and the relationship between the fighters and the company that promotes it. markwayne mullin is a former mixed martial arts fighter and
6:42 pm
he's sponsoring regulation to set up regulation of mma, similar to how professional boxing is regulated. >> subcommittee on commerce, manufacturing, and trade will now come too order, the chair recognizes himself for five minutes for opening statement. good morning to all our witnesses. we appreciate you being with us this morning. before we turn to the matter at hand, i do want to make note of the fact that this is our last hearing before the 114th congress. certainly want to thank my vice chairman, chairman lance of new jersey, and ranking member schakowsky of illinois, for their hard work and the hard work of all of our members. energy and commerce committee itself is probably one of the most productive committees on
6:43 pm
capitol hill. the commerce, manufacturing, and trade committee has justifiably earned the reputation as the think tank of the energy and commerce committee, and i would just note to the members on the dais that we passed over two dozen pieces of legislation from members on both sides of the dais over the past two years. and one of the most productive legislative accomplishments for this subcommittee in several years. so thanks to the participation of all of our members, i believe no pun intended, we have been punching above our weight and i'm happy to close out this gres with my colleagues on the congress, manufacturing, and trade committee and look forward to a busy agenda forth next yea. once more, we turn our attention to something where this is plowing new ground for congress. as broad and varied as our jurisdiction is, mixed martial ar arts, especially the industry of mixed martial arts, is probably
6:44 pm
a new concept to some of us. in fact, it is to your chairman. as the industry continues to evolve swiftly, it seems that now is the time to bring congress up to speed on mixed martial arts and understand if there is a role that congress should be playing in this multi-billion dollar industry. i want to thank congressman mullin for making this issue and making sure this issue was on the subcommittee's agenda. the latest major mixed martial arts event drew a little under 2 million viewers. and around 1.5 pay-per-view buys. it generated $18 million at the gate, $1.5 million went to the state of new york in taxes. perhaps most importantly, since about half of the mixed martial arts fan base is comprised of millennials, the event created 14 billion social media impressions, which nealson now
6:45 pm
tracks. the winner at the top of the fight card made $40 million. that doesn't match what a top boxing championship fight brings, but there's no longer a doubt that mixed martial arts is ready for primetime, and there's certainly no doubt that it's an economic driver. in our previous sports hearings, we have grappled primarily with athlete safety and the implications of safety rules on youth sports. the safety of mma fighters is of importance, and this will figure into our broad discussion of how the industry works and how it is regulated at the state level. the politics around combat sports are tough. to some degree, fighters assume risks. all 50 states have legalized mixed martial arts and regulate it to some degree. state athletic commissions have generally promulgated rules that prohibit certain maneuvers in the ring, require certain equipment, and provide for athlete drug testing. some states are stricter than
6:46 pm
others, depending upon a state's resources, how popular the state is as a venue for mixed martial arts. as with boxing, fighters must generally obtain a license to fight. states and the major promotions also require physicians to be present and make certain that the fighters are healthy before, during, and after a bout. i thank the panelists who represent a variety of interests and perspectives for their participation today. i certainly look forward to a lively and interesting discussion. and i would like to yield then to the gentleman from new jersey for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in my three terms serving on the energy and commerce committee, this has been by far the most productive session for the commerce, manufacturing, and trade subcommittee. due in large part to the leadership of dr. burgess and the hard work of the committee staff. through the highly successful disrupter series, cmt has
6:47 pm
asserted itself has the principle subcommittee supporting the technological inoovations our economy needs to thrive. we have acted on the information learned from these educational hearings by passing bipartisan targeted legislation and beginning the first legislative update to the federal trade commission in 20 years. we have also passed legislation to help consumers, for example, to review their experiences without businesses engaging in retribution. under dr. burgess' leadership, cmt has also provided vigorous oversight of the takata airbag recall, the largest safety recall in the automotive industry history. congratulations, dr. burgess, on an exceptionally effective session, and i look forward to continuing our work on these important issues and other issues in the full committee next congress. i also take a moment to recognize outgoing chairman fred upton of the full committee, and today is an historic and
6:48 pm
important day as 21st century cures act goes to the president's desk. at this season, i wish everybody a merry christmas and a peaceful new year, and particularly safety to our troops, our magnificent troops across the globe, who protect us and the american people in general. and mr. chairman, i yield back the balance of our time. >> the chair thanks to gentleman for his remarks. notes the gentleman went a little over, but since his remarks seem so important and you were thanking the chairman, i ask unanimous consent that the gentleman be allowed to do that. of course, i want to thank the ranking member of the committee, ms. schakowsky, from illinois, for being here as well and a very productive two years on the committee, and recognize you for five minutes for the purpose of an opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you, too. it's been a very interesting and i think productive session of congress. and it's been a personal pleasure to be able to serve with you as the chairman and
6:49 pm
myself as the ranking member. i also want to wish everyone a hap happy merry christmas and a happy hanukkah, which actually happens all at the same time. and to the business of the morning. when i first heard that we would be having a hearing on mixed martial arts, i was surprised. i confess, i am not an mma fan. aren't you shocked? i have had to learn a little more about mma in preparation for the hearing and i don't think that it's going to be my new hobby. however, you don't have to be an mma fan to recognize the need for greater negotiating power and stronger protections for mma fighters. our colleague congressman mullin used to be an mma fighter. i chatted with him about his sport, and yesterday, i met with other mma fighters in my office. the lack of leverage they have in their contract negotiations
6:50 pm
is frankly pretty shocking. and that comes through when you look at differences in pay and benefits between mma and other sports. congressman mullin comes to this issue as an i come to it as a fighter for worker rights and safety. that puts us on same side. when i saw what mma is, the mother in me came out a little bit. i don't know why you would do that to yourself. but mma fighters love their sport. and they should be able to fight. i do however want to make sure that they aren't putting -- aren't put at unnecessary risk. safety for fighters in the structure of mma are interlinked. fighters only get paid if they are in a match. they have to secure their own health insurance because the promoters' insurance covers injuries within a match, not the
6:51 pm
injuries that frequently happen in weeks of training beforehand. that forces fighters to push themselves sometimes at great personal risk. mma can involve blows to the head. for me, that immediately recognizes concern about brain injury, which we have seen in other contact sports. two months ago, 25-year-old jordan parsons became the first mma fighter to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. this should not be surprising. research has shown repetitive hits to head have cumulative long-term affects on brain function and physiology and may increase the risk of cte. cte is not new to members of the energy and commerce committee. last march, in response to a question i raised, the nfl representative admitted for the very first time a definite link between football and cte. dr. mckee, who we will hear from
6:52 pm
today, was at that round table. representatives and i have been pressing the national hockey league to do more to reduce risk of head injuries. mma is the latest sport where cte is an issue. we have seen some progress at the state level. new york state, included a provision in its mma legislation that recognizes the risk of brain trauma and requires mma promoters to carry insurance to cover treatment of life-threatening brain injuries. if knowing the risks, fighters should have the leverage to stand up for their own safety. dr. mckee's written testimony, she provides some recommendations on the risk of brain injuries and mma, how they can be reduced. we also need to support further research on the connection
6:53 pm
between cte and contact sports so that adults know the risk. research is especially critical given the risk to young athletes. according to espn, enestimated 3.2 million kids perhaps in mma. kids can start classes as early as 6 years old. some leagues ban head hits for younger fighters. however, dr. rebecca carl warns that kids don't need to be hit in the head to experience brain injury. the force of being thrown to the ground is enough to injure the brain. that's a quote. to continue the quote, i don't think there's enough data available to say that mma is safe for children, unquote. i want to further explore how mma can be safer and fairer for fighters of all ages. i want to thank the witnesses for being here today. i look forward to your
6:54 pm
testimony. i yield back. >> the gentle lady yields back. the chair recognizes mr. mullen. >> thank you. real quick, i want to correct maybe something you said. the top fighter received over $40 million in payout. wasn't even close, which i know is misspoken. the top ticket on a receive combined that. compared to boxing, it's a big difference. i want to make sure everybody understands the difference. >> we will correct the record. >> thank you for holding this important hearing to examine a growing sport i'm passionate about. i want to thank chairman upton. this informational hearing is vital to educate the members of this committee and the public on the history, current status and the future of mma. as we looked at issues from
6:55 pm
contracts to health to conflicts of interest, i hope we can keep one thing in mind. it's the fighters. without them there's no ufc, no sport. the promoters have done so much to grow the sport. but the fighters are what make this sport so compelling and so great to watch. the sport is much different than when i was younger. there was more media, more money and what brings -- with that brings more fans. as mma continues to grow, we need to make sure we keep it growing with everybody. before i yield back, wasn't to highlight my bill, the muhammad ali expansion act. although it's not the focus on this hearing, it's certainly relevant. i look forward to hearing the perspectives of our witnesses and the legislation on the issues that addresses with fighters contracts the ranking system and the role of managers and promoters. it's my hope that all members of this committee leave this hearing with a better understanding of mma and will continue working in the next congress on the issue that affects all parties in this room, especially the fighters.
6:56 pm
thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> the chair thanks the gentlemen. we will conclude with member opening statements. seeing no other members wishing to offer an opening statement, pursuant to rules, all opening statements will be made part of the record. we do want to thank all of our witnesses for being here today, taking time to testify before the subcommittee. today's witnesses will have an opportunity to give opening statements, followed by questions from members. our witness panel for today's hearing includes the honorable jeff denham. thank you for being here. mr. jeff novitzky. miss lydia robinson. dr. ann mckee, professor at
6:57 pm
boston university school of medicine and mr. randy couto ur. >> thank you. i would like to thank the chairman and ranking member for allowing me to testify today. also want to thank representative mullen for bringing this to the forefront. it's an important issue to address and make sure there are some minimum mandatory requirements as we move forward with this great sport. i had the opportunity to enjoy another great sport, boxing. i spent a lot of time in and around the ring. but also saw the challenges and the damage that a very difficult sport can have, lasting impacts on those that engage in it.
6:58 pm
i believe that we need to have some minimum standards. because often times, if the health of a fighter is not addressed, you can have a fighter that gets back into the ring early or before they are completely healed. if that happens, that also lends itself to have irrepairable long-term damage as well. and i have seen the lasting impacts of friends that have gotten back into the ring too early or before they were completely healed. so i do believe that the boxing industry has changed. '96, the professional boxing safety act did make some changes. it focused on the physical well-being of boxers by establishing the minimum health and safety standards for professional boxing with limited federal oversight by the department of justice and the federal trade commission. i don't want to see congress insert itself so much that it
6:59 pm
really interferes with the great sport. but i do believe that there needs to be some minimum mandatory requirements. i also believe that as any business, you hire people. you expect them to operate on your behalf. so i hire a manager, much like i would hire a chief of staff or somebody to manage my company. i expect them to operate on my behalf. so i think there needs to be some transparency between the manager and any type of payment outside of the fighter that they may be receiving. in the ali act, in 2000, after the '96 initial act, the ali act addressed that issue. it also addressed some consistency across the states to make sure that boxing commissions across every state had those minimum contracts as well. much like boxers, mma fighters also receive a card. but i think it's important we
7:00 pm
have a consistent health inspection for the safety of the fighter to make sure that they are prepared to go back into the ring, back into the battle, and they are fully healthy and prepared to do so. those minimum standards i think are very important across the country, making sure that our state boxing commissions or in this case mma fighters also have that same safety, health inspection, a clearance to get back into the ring so that they -- their future is safe as well. there are other experts up here that will talk about the rankings and contract negotiations. i think those are important discussions to have right now. but i don't think that there's anything more important than the health and safety of the individual that is engaging in an incredible, great sport. i want to see mma continue to flourish. i'm a big fan. but as a former boxer, i also know that the safety that can go with that sport needs to be
7:01 pm
addressed as well. so i am proud to be a co-author of this bill and look forward to working with you as we have future hearings and future amendments and go through the continued process. this is something that i think is not only exciting to address but it is something that is critically important to address. again, i want to thank mr. mullen for bringing this to the forefront. thank you for allowing me to testify. >> chair thanks the gentleman. >> it's an honor to be here today with my fellow witnesses. my name is jeff novizky. >> is your mike on? >> i think it's important to recognize the significant we place on the most important issue that we will talk about today, athlete health and safety. i would like to start off by giving the committee a brief history of my experience outside of the ufc and what led me to ufc last year.
7:02 pm
in april of 2015, i retired from a 22-plus year in federal law enforcement. in 2002, i opened an investigation on a company for the illegal distribution of athletic performance enhancing drugs or peds. while the case and subsequent cases i worked, nevertheless, the laboratories investigation ended up involving some of the biggest names in sport in the world at the time who were athlete clients. barry bonds, marion jones, dozens of olympic athletes, boxers, nfl athletes and several major league baseball players. the nature of the investigation steered many investigative leads my way and let me to subsequent investigations involving the distribution of peds. i conducted an investigation on professional cycling, including
7:03 pm
the united states postal service cycling team. i estimate that throughout my career i spoke with between 150 and 200 professional athletes who chose to use peds. i always took the opportunity to ask them why they made that choice. more often than not, the answer came down to one word, trust. they didn't trust their teammates who were they were competing weren't using. they didn't trust the competitors weren't using. most importantly, they didn't trust their sports organization really cared about the issue and that doping was allowed to fester because there was not sufficient programs in place to catch as well as deter athletes from ultimately harming themselves and others. when i was first approached by the ufc to develop and implement their anti-doping program, i saw this as an opportunity to change that. i quickly realized, their passion and commitment to athlete health and safety was paramount. they told me, we want the best anti-doping program in the
7:04 pm
world. we want to be the gold standard for not just combat sports but for all sports. i realize i could be part of a program within a sports organization that its athletes could trust and could be a positive influence for not just the ufc but for all professional sports. i can confidently state in the year and a half since our anti-doping program up and running, the ufc put together the most comprehensive, robust anti-doping program in professional sports in the world. a major pillar of our program is the outsourcing of the administration. earlier this year, the ufc renewed our commitment, $1 million commitment to the professional fighters brain health study being conducted through the cleveland clinic. this makes ufc the largest combat sports contributor to the study. we have 88 current and former ufc fighters enrolled in study.
7:05 pm
it's done over longer periods of time to develop ways to improve safety in combat sports along with other professional athletes exposed to repetitive head trauma. another big development relating to fighter health and safety is the construction of the ufc's new athlete health and performance center. the goal of this facility will be to provide our athletes free of charge with the best training, rehabilitation, nutrition education and injury prevention practices available in the world. we will team with universities to conduct studies on our athletes to learn best practices for training, rehabilitation, brain health, nutrition and weight management practices. the center is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2017. as you can see, the ufc has taken concrete steps towards increasing safety standards and protocols not just within our organization, not just throughout mixed martial arts
7:06 pm
but across the board. from our anti-doping program, which has been recognized by the media as the best anti-doping program in professional sports, our continuing education of athletes on topics relating to health and safety, safer weight management guidelines and practices, our participation in brain studies through the cleveland clinic and our athlete health and performance center, we have made great strides to ensure all of our athletes compete on a level playing field, take proactive steps to protect their health and safety and enable them to lead fulfilling lives in and out of competition. as an organization, we are not only looking to lead in this area but take a leadership role and set an example for all of professional sports. thank you. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. miss robertson, you are recognized for five minutes for an opening statement. >> i am serving as treasurer of the association of boxing commissions. and just a little background on the organization.
7:07 pm
in the late '80s, a group of concerned commission representatives got together in hopes that they could standardize some safety regulations for the professional boxing industry. shortly thereafter, the bill known now as the muhammad ali act came into being. and it helped unify those various states. so more and more states joined because in the muhammad ali act it specifies that if you do not have an authorized regulatory body from within the state that you must use a different recognized organization. and every state wanted to participate. not too long after that, the law was amended. and now includes a lot of travel governments. we have 75 members that are
7:08 pm
housed within the u.s. borders. and about another 70 members from outside our borders. the association of boxing commissions is a 501c3 non-profit and maintains a website and offers continual training courses to enhance uniformity and skill among professional boxing and mma referees and judges. roughly eight years ago, the abc began working on uniform standards safety rules for mma. just as had been done for boxing. they were updated this past summer in 2016. the abc receives no funds from
7:09 pm
-- this meeting wouldn't be held. there is a delicate balance between the two. the association of boxing commission's expanded their name this past summer to association
7:10 pm
of boxing commissions and combative sports. as clearly, the abc is ready, willing and able to accept more responsibility of the ali act or some other bill directed at safety and to benefit the fighter passes. the abc, among its many members possession unique and valuable -- one of our board members was a fighter at one point. and other state commissioner that i know of trained fighters. this five-member board of directors for the abc currently has 90 years experience just between us. some of it regulatory, some par tis pa tore. unlike some laws with good intentions, the mow hamd ali act -- altered the way contracts are entered into between managers, promo tors and
7:11 pm
athletes. the simple fact is that if a bill will reduce mma exploitation and enhance fighter safety, it is -- and if it is something the fighters are ready for, the abc, after seeing the final bill, will probably support the bill. the abc does not concern itself with promo tors and their needs regardless of whether they are multibillionaire dollar promoter or a small one found in the state of alabama. it is the fighter with whom the abc is most concerned. in closing, i would like to remind everyone the small local promoter will be required to adhere to changes in any law. the abc's goal is uniform enforcement of protections. and my last comment would be, there is a balance between a business model, and a sports model. i am not an expert enough to
7:12 pm
tell you what that is, but i think with all of the committee's experience and dedication, you will arrive at those decisions. and the abc is so grateful to be a part of this. thank you for allowing me to testify. >> thank you. chair recognizes dr. mckee, five minutes for your opening state, please. >> kbl chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the invitation to testify. my name is dr. ann mckee, professor of neurrolly and pathology at the boston university school of medicine. and i'm director of the cte center at boston university. my testimony today reflects my personal professional opinion. i am not speaking officially on behalf of the department of the veterans affairs or boston university school of medicine.
7:13 pm
cte, or chronic traumatic even accept lop thee is a major problem. such as boxing and football and any other sport that involves a high number of head i am in facts such as mixed martial arts. even though not much research available, we knew it has a high concussion rate and importantly it has a high sub con cusssive impact rate. it is triggered by repetitive head trauma that causes buildup of a protein in the brain. the abnormal protein is toxic to nerve cells. symptoms of cte include memory loss, confusion, impulse control problems, aggression, did he bregs and dementia. it was originally described in boxing and now has been found in many other sports. we found evidence of cte in the only mma fighter we examined, a
7:14 pm
27-year-old who took his own life and there is good reason to believe that a significant portion of other mma fighters are at risk for cte. this is because exposure to repetitive head impacts is the major risk factor and mma fighters experience substantial head trauma during their fights as well as during their training and sparring session. there has been a primary focus on concussions in the development of cte, even the movie about it was named "con -- prolonged exposure to repetitive small impacts, the sub con cusssive hits. in sports like mma, the risk for cte is not directly related to concussions, rather the risk for cte is related to the cumulative exposure to sub concussions that occur with every blow to the head. the longer you play contact sports, the higher your exposure
7:15 pm
to repetitive head impacts and the higher the risk for cte. starting a contact sport at a young age often leads to a longer play career and greater exposure, another factor that contributes to enhanced risk is that the development brain is more susceptible to damage from repetitive trauma. there is a lot of skepticism regarding the significance of cte. for years people have said that cte was not a real disease. they say there is confusion and galt among scientifics that cte cannot be -- there is no scientific confusion about whether cte exists. cte not only exists, it is definitively diagnosed by neurpathological examination of brain tissue. in 2015 and '16 a panel of path ol giss, convened by the -- determined that cte was a unique
7:16 pm
disease, and they even went on to say there is a brain lesion that is found in cte not found in any other disorder and is specific for cte. the other misinformation about cte is that it's very rare. it's only been diagnosed in a few hundred people and millions of people have played contact sports. but cte is not rare, we would not be able to find 218 cases of cte in 291 athletes over the past eight years if it were rare. if you don't look for something, don't know how to look for something and don't find it, that doesn't mean that something is rare, it means it's underrecognized. recent brain studies have shown that cte is present in 5% of the general autopsy population. now, if you were to ask me how to limit risk for cte and mma, in addition to the minimum standards ref previously suggested, i would say don't allow children and young adults
7:17 pm
to participate in full contact with head strikes, educate fighters to limit their exposure so as to not allow head strikes in training and sparring, limit the number of head strikes during a match and reduce the number of full contact matches per season. cte is a big problem from contact sports and what we know today is very likely the of the iceberg. we recognize the important of sports to an athlete's well-being, it is a known con convention. there is argurgency for funding and military service. we need to bring hope to the players and veterans who are in the beginning stages of cte and showing signs of memory loss, behavioral changes and depression. we need to develop a effective interventions and treats so all individuals can continue to participate in the sports that they love but also live long, healthy, productive lives.
7:18 pm
thank you. >> we thank the doctor. you are recognized. >> thank you for having me here as a representative of mixed martial arts fighters alliance -- fighters and give mixed marshall artist prospective on a great sport. i've been an athlete since the age of 10, for over 40 years. i wrestled at oklahoma state university, three time all american there, received a degree, bachelor of arts. i started my mixed martial arts career in 1997 as a wrestler. rolling years of wresting experience into mixed martial arts. my first title fight was that year in december of 1997. six time world champion in the sport of mixed martial arts, and fights took place.
7:19 pm
as an athlete, i want to give our perspective on what is going on in the sport and the things that we're up against. i think we fill out the same paperwork and are -- there is one difference that is going on in mixed martial arts, and a flaw in the structure, that is that that the regulatory promoter and the body are one and the same person in mixed martial arts, which isn't the case in boxing. independent sanctioning bodies are formed in boxing and licensed by the athletic division to create titles. in mixed martial arts, he does both those jobs, promotes thoughs and creates rankings and titles. it gives him an unfair advantage
7:20 pm
and reduces the ability of the fighter to negotiate a fair value in the marketplace and obvious example is ufc sold for $4.25 million. if you do the simple math and the 16 years that they owned the company and how much they put out to the fighters during that time period, it's literally less than 10% of that amount. it's a significant problem. it creates a conflict of interest, where they create the titles and the rankings for us as fighters if we want to participate, we have to sign a contract basically signing away a lot of our rights and abilities in sport that's a lot of other athletes and the protection of the la act give boxers, we're trying to accomplish is to get the la act amended simply by changing the definition of what a boxer is to a combative sports athlete. under those provisions, it will stan dar dies the contracts
7:21 pm
across the board, create separate, independent agency to determine rankings and titles and a laws us a free and open market for the promo tors then to bid on those top fights and gives us a chance to estimate our fair value in the market and get our fair share of the revenues that are generated. right now the number one promotion in the sport is the ultimate fighting championship. they're gar entering over 90% of the income from the sport. there are other promotions using the exact model creating their own titles and rankings, obviously on a much smaller scale. so it's our hope that, and we realize this is a process, it's our hope that you will consider amending the act to incorporate other combative sports that fall under just like boxing. thank you guys very much for giving us a voice here.
7:22 pm
>> thanks the gentleman. thanks all of our witnesses for your testimony. i was going to excuse representative denham, he has already each excused himself. so noted. we'll begin with the question and answer part of the hearing and i'm going to go first to mr. mullin of oklahoma, five minutes for your question, please. >> wow, i never get to go first. >> it's my last chance to let you go first. >> we're ending the year on a bang. thank you and thank you for the witnesses for all showing up. really do appreciate it. appreciate miss robertson you coming in here on your own behalf and representing the entity that we're looking for to maybe help with the ranking system. we appreciate that. dr. mckee, you are bringing a perspective that we all know about. we all know that the sport is
7:23 pm
violent, and it's a sport that we love, though. and why we look forward to working with you. we understand it and that's part of what we're trying to do here. we feel like we can negotiate better contracts, we don't have to fight as much. randy, i want to go back to your hearing -- to your testimony that you just said. can you explain a little bit more about how the ranking system works? how it currently works and how it manipulates the fighters into basically a take it or leave it attitude when it comes to getting a chance to fight for the title? >> there is definitely a take it or leave it attitude from the promo tors and an example of that is you mentioned the new york -- the first show in madison square garden. the number one fighter, that was connor mcgregor. he was 145 pound champion, he was fighting for the 155 title belt.
7:24 pm
he would be the first athlete to hold that two belts at the same time. he also is interested in pursuing a match with floyd mayweather in boxing. because that kind of went against the grain with the ultimate fighting championship, they stripped him of his belt, even though he had not been defeated in that weight class and hadn't actually competed in that weight class in a while because he was attempting to do something historic and winning two championship belts. he was stripped of that title and dropped out of the top ten rankings in that weight class even though he had not been defeated or competed there. so in essence they used their rankings and titles to manipulate the fighters to toe the line and do what they wanted them to do. other examples of that, i'm living proof of a similar thing and the free and kind of the closed market that exists in our sport right now. i have pursued in the height of
7:25 pm
my career as what most people consider the number two heavyweight in the world. i wanted to fight the number one heavyweight in the world, how do you be considered the best fighter in your sport. i was able to see that happen and pursued that fight myself outside of that contract and was prevented and in junctions were filed to keep me from making that fight happen. at some point i had to recognize i was in my 40s and the clock was ticking and went back and continued the rest of my career, but never got the chance to be considered the number one fighter in the world based on the outcome of that fight. there is a lot of -- that conflict of interest gives the promoter a ton of power to manipulate the fighters and rankings to get, for them it's just business. they're trying to get the most pay-per-view sold and people to buy tickets, they'll do whatever they need to do to manipulat

15 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on