tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN May 19, 2016 4:40am-7:01am EDT
generation. although we probably have better penmanship. and we are certainly better spellers. we did not have spell check ack in my day. you're not on the better educated, you have been more exposed to the world, more exposed to other cultures. you are more diverse, more environmentally conscious. yes, a healthy skepticism for conventional wisdom. you have got the tools to lead us. precisely because i so much confidence in you, i'm not going to spend the remainder of my time telling you exactly how you're going to make the world better. you are going to figure out -- it out. you will look at things with fresh eyes, unencumbered by biases and blind spots and general inertia and crankiness of your parents and grandparents and old heads like me.
i do have a couple of suggestions that you may find useful as you go out there and conquer the world. point number 1 -- when you hear someone longing for the good old days, take it with a grain of salt. take it with a grain of salt. we live in a great nation and we are rightly proud of our history. we are beneficiaries of the labor and the grit and the courage of generations who came before you. i guess it's part of human nature, especially in times of change and uncertainty to want to look backwards and long for some imaginary path where everything worked and the economy hummed and all politics was wise and every child was well mannered and america did
whatever it wanted around the world. guess what? it ain't so. the good old days were not all that good. yes, there have been some stretches in our history where the economy grew much faster or when government ran more smoothly. there were moments when immediately after world war ii, for example, or the end of the cold war, when the world bent more easily to our will. but those are sporadic. those moments, those episodes. in fact, by almost every measure, america is better and the world is better than it was 50 years ago or 30 years ago or ven eight years ago.
nd by the way, set aside 150 years ago, pre-civil war. there's a whole bunch of stuff there that we could talk about. set aside life in the 1950's, when women and people of color were systematically excluded from big chunks of american life. since i graduated in 1983, which is in that long ago, i'm just saying. since i graduated, crime rates, teenage pregnancy, the share of americans living in poverty, they are all down. the share of americans with college educations have gone way up. our life expectancy has as well. blacks and latinos have risen up the ranks in business and olitics.
more women are in the workforce. they are earning more money. although it is long past time that we pass laws that make women get paid the same for the same work. meanwhile in the eight years since most of you started high school, we are also better off. you and your fellow graduates are entering the job market with better prospects than any time since 2000. 20 million more americans know the financial security of health insurance. we are less dependent on foreign oil. we have doubled the production of clean energy. we have cut high school dropout rates. you have cut the deficit by two thirds. marriage equality is the law of he land. and just as america is better, the world is better than when i
graduated. since i graduated, the iron curtain fell. apartheid ended. there is more democracy. we virtually eliminate certain diseases like polio. we have cut extreme poverty drastically. we have cut infant mortality by an enormous amount. i say all these things not to make you complacent. we have got a bunch of big problems to solve. i say it to point out that change has been a constant in our history and the reason america is better is because we did not look backwards. we do not fear the future. we seized the future and made it our own. and that is exactly why it has always been young people like you who have brought about a change. it's because you don't fear the future. that leads me to my second
point. the world is more interconnected than ever before and it is becoming more connected every day. building walls won't change hings. look, as president, my first responsibility is always the security and prosperity of united states. as citizens, we all rightfully put our country first. but if the past two decades ave taught us anything, it's that the biggest challenges we face cannot be solved in
isolation. when overseas states start falling apart, they become breeding grounds for terrorism, ideologies of nihilism and despair that ultimately can reach our shores. when developing countries do not have functioning health systems, epidemics like zika or ebola can spread and threaten americans and awol won't stop that -- a wall won't stop hat. if we want to close loopholes that allow large corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, we have to have other countries help enforce financial laws. the point is, to help ourselves, we have got to help others, not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out. engagement does not mean deploying our military. there are times where we must take military action to protect ourselves and our allies. we are in all of and grateful
for the men and women who make up the finest fighting force the world has ever known. but i worry if we think that the entire burden of our engagement with the world is up to the 1% who serve in our military. the rest of us can just sit back and do nothing. they can't shoulder the entire burden. engagement means using all the levers of our national power and rallying the world to take on our shared challenges. you look at something like trade, for example. we live in an age of global supply chains and cargo ships that crisscross oceans and online commerce that can render borders obsolete. a lot of folks have legitimate concerns with the way globalization has progressed. that is one of the changes that
has been taken place -- jobs shipped overseas, trade deals that sometimes perk workers and businesses at a disadvantage. the answer is to not stop -- stop trading with other countries. in this global economy, that's impossible. the answer is to negotiate with other countries to raise their trade standards and environmental standards and to make sure they do not impose tariffs on american goods or steel american intellectual property. that is how we make sure that international rules are consistent with our values, including human rights. ultimately, that's how we help raise wages here in america. that is how we help our workers compete on a level playing field. building walls won't do hat. it won't boost our economy and it won't enhance our security. isolating or disparaging muslims, suggesting that they should be treated differently when it comes to entering this
country, that is not just of the trail of our values -- a betrayal of our values -- that's not just a betrayal of ho we are. it would alienate our communities at home and abroad who are most important partners in the fight against violent extremism. to suggest that we can build a wall along our borders and blame our challenges on immigrants, that does not just run counter to our history as the world melting pot. it contradicts the evidence that our growth and our innovation and our dynamism has always been spurred by our ability to create drivers from every corner of the globe. that is how we became america. why would we want to stop it now?
and that's why we honor bill moyers or dr. burnell. we traditionally have valued those things, but if you were listening to today's political debate, you might wonder where he strain of anti-intellectualism came rom. so class of 2016, let me be as clear as i can be. in politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue. it's not cool to not know what ou're talking about.
that's not keeping it real or telling it like it is. that's not challenging political correctness. that's just not knowing what you're talking about. and yet, we have become confused about this. look, our nation's founders -- franklin, madison, hamilton, jefferson -- they were born of the enlightenment. they sought to escape superstition and tribalism and know nothingness. they believed and rational thought and expand mentation and the capacity of informed citizens to master our own fate. that is embedded in our constitutional desire. that spirit informs our ventures and our explorers -- the edison's and the wright brothers and the george washington carver's and the norman for lots and the steve
jobs. that is what built this country. and today, in every phone in one of your pockets, we have access to more information than at any time in human history at a touch of a button. but ironically, the flood of information has not made us more discerning of the truth. in some ways, it has made us more confident in our ignorance. we assume whatever is on the web must be true. we search for sites that just reinforce our own predispositions. xx opinions masqueraded as fact. the wildest conspiracy theories are taken for gossip. i am sure you have learned uring your years of college,
and if not, you will learn soon, that there are a whole lot of folks who are book smart and have no common sense. that is the truth. you will meet them if you have not already. the fact that they have a fancy degree, you have to talk to them to see whether they know what they are talking about. qualities like kindness and compassion, honesty and hard work, they often matter more than technical skills and now-how. but, when our leaders express a disdain for facts, when they are not held accountable for repeating falsehoods and making stuff up, while actual experts are dismissed as elitists, we have a problem.
it is interesting that if we get sick we want to make sure the doctors have gone to medical school. f we want to get on a plane, we want the pilots to be able o pilot the plane. and yet in our public lives, we suddenly think, i don't want someone who has done it efore. the rejection of fact, the rejection of reason, that is the path to decline. in the words of carl sagan, he said we can judge our progress by the carnage of our questions and the depth of our answers,
our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good. the debate around climate change is a perfect example of this. i recognize it does not feel like the planet is warmer right now. i understand. there was hail when i landed in ewark. but think about the climate change issue. everyday day there are officials in high office, with responsibilities, who mock the verwhelming consensus of the world's scientists that human activity and methane and carbon dioxide and other substances are altering our climate in profou and dangerous ways.
a while back, you might have seen a united states senator trotted out a snowball in the middle of winter improve the world was not warming. i mean, listen, climate change is not something subject to political spin. there is evidence, there are facts, we can see it happening right now. if we don't act, if we don't follow through on the progress he made in paris -- we made in paris and at home, your generation will feel the rent of catastrophe. it is up to you to insist on an informed debate. imagine if benjamin franklin had seen that senator with a snowball. imagine if your fifth grade science teacher had seen hat.
he would get a "d." and he is a senator. ook, i'm not suggesting that analysis and hard data are ultimately more important then assion, faith, love or loyalty. i am suggesting that those highest expressions of our humanity can only flourish when our economy functions well and proposed budgets at up and our environment is protected. and to accomplish those things, to make a common good, we have to use our heads and agree that ax and evidence matter and hold our leaders and ourselves accountable to know what the heck they are talking about.
all right. i only have two more points. i know it is getting cold and you guys have to graduate. point 4, have faith in democracy. i know it is not always pretty. know -- -- i have been living it. it is how we have made progress in this nation. it is how we band child labor, cleaned our air and water, past the security and medicare -- passed social security and edicare. none of these changes happen overnight. it was not because a charismatic leader got everybody to agree on everything. it did not happen because of a massive political revolution. actually happened over the ourse of years, of advocacy, nd organizing.
and alliance building. and dealmaking. and the changing of public opinion. it happened because ordinary mericans who cared participated in the political process. o -- that's nice, i helped. look, if you want to change this country for the better, you better start participating. i will give you an example on a lot of people's minds, the growing inequality in our economy. over much of the last century, we have unleashed the strongest economic engine the world has ever seen, but over the past two decades our economy has become more and more unequal. the top 10% of earners taken
half of all income in the u.s. in the past, a top ceo made 20 times the average worker. today, it is 300 times. wages are not rising for amilies. if we want to reverse those trends, there are a bunch of policies that would make a big difference. we could raise the minimum wage. we could modernize our infrastructure. we can make college more ffordable. we can give tax breaks to help families with childcare or retirement. and if we did these things, we would help to restore the sense of hard workers and build an economy that works for everybody. the reason some of these things have not happened, even though
the majority of people approve, is really simple. it is not because i wasn't roposing them. it wasn't because the facts and evidence showed they would our. it was because a huge chunk of americans, especially young people, do not vote. in 2014, voter turnout was the lowest since world war ii. he was than one in five young people showed up to vote. 2014. the four who stayed home determined the course of this country as much as the one who voted. it determines who are congress is, what policies they rioritize. it even, for example, the terms whether a fully highly qualified supreme court nominee receives the courtesy of a vote in the united states enate.
yes, big money in politics is a huge problem. we have got to reduce its influence. yes, special interest and lobbyists have is proportional access -- had this portion access -- have disproportionate access. the system is not as rigged as you think and is not as hopeless as you think. if you vote and elect a majority that represents the majority of your views, you will get what you want. if you opt out or stop paying attention, you won't. it is that simple. t is not that complicated. one of the reasons people do not vote is because they do not see the changes they were looking for right away.
well guess what, none of the great moments in our history happened right away. it took the naacp decades to win brown v board of education. it took more time after that for it to start working. it took a proud daughter in new jersey years of organizing marches and hunger strikes and protests and drafting hundreds of pieces of legislation and working with congressional leaders before she and other suffragists helped win women he vote. each phase along the way required compromise. sometimes you took half.
you forged allies. sometimes he lost on an issue and came back to fight another day. that is how democracy works. you have got to he committed to participating not just to get immediate gratification, you have to be of citizen full-time, all the time. if participation means voting and compromise and organizing and advocacy, it also means listening to those who do not agree with you. i know a couple of years ago, folks on this campus got upset that condoleezza was supposed to speak at commencement. at a think it's a secret that i disagree with her. the notion that this community or country would not be served by hearing her or shutting out what she had to say, i believe that is misguided.
i don't think that's how democracy works best, when we not even willing to listen to ach other. i believe that is misguided. if you disagree with somebody, bring them in and ask them tough questions. hold their feet to the fire and make them defend their positions. if they have a bad or offensive idea, prove it wrong. stand up for what you believe in. don't be scared to take somebody on. don't feel like you got to check your ears off because you are too fragile and somebody might offend your sensibilities. go at them. if they are not making any sense. use your logic and reason -- and words. you will strengthen your position and hone your
arguments and maybe you will learn something and realize you do not know everything and you may have a new understanding, not only of what your opponents believe, but what you believe. either way, you win. and more importantly, our emocracy wins. so, anyway, all right. that is it, class of 2016. a few suggestions on how you can change the world. except maybe i have one last suggestion. ust one. gear yourself for the long haul. whatever path you choose, business, nonprofit, government, health care, the arts, whatever it is, you are oing to have setbacks.
you will deal occasionally with foolish people. you will be frustrated. you will have a boss that is not great. you won't always get everything you want, at least not assessed as you wanted -- not as fast as you want it. you have to be persistent. and success, however small and ncomplete, success is still -- i always tell my daughter's, better is good. it may not be perfect or great, but it is good. that is how progress happens, in society and our own lives. don't lose hope. sometimes you hit a roadblock. don't lose hope in the face of naysayers and certainly don't let resistance make you cynical.
cynicism is so easy and cynics don't accomplish much. as a friend of mine who happens to be from new jersey, a guy named bruce springsteen, once aid -- -- they spend their lives waiting for a moment that just don't come. don't let that be you, don't waste your time waiting. if you doubt you can make a difference, look at the difference your fellow graduates are already aking. look at jasmine, who helps kids deal with determination. look at somebody like madison little, who grew up dealing
with health issues and started wondering what it would be like if you live somewhere else. he did charge of a student nonprofit and work with people in australia and cambodia to address the aids epidemic. my peers give me hope that we will overcome the obstacles in society. that is you. is it any wonder i am optimistic? a new generation of americans has reached up and bent the arc of history in the direction of more freedom and opportunity and justice. class of 2016, it is your turn now to shape our nations -- ation's destiny. make sure the next 250 years are better than the last. good luck. hank you, everybody.
administer responded to allegations of sexual misconduct and theft. members of the house oversight can he questioned the disciplinary problems and rules . we will continue to highlight this as long as it takes. in my opinion the e.p.a. is one of the most toxic places in the federal to work. if you don't get rid of the tox isty of the employees there at the e.p.a., we are doing a great disservice to this country. most are good, hard-working
patriotic people. they care, they work hard. but you have some bad apples at the e.p.a. and they're not being dealt with. today the committee is exploring numerous cases of misconduct. as the committee on oversight and government reform in addition to the broad responsibility of oversight of the executive branch we are also for federal employees. it is our duty to explore the problems in the federal workforce. we have explored misconduct at the e.p.a. before and we will continue to do so until we are convinced there has actually been a change. most notably the committee examined the case of john beal, a senior e.p.a. employee reporting to then e.p.a. air
office chief jeana mccarthy who for years falsely claimed to be a cia spy. right under her nose this went on for a long time. this person ended up going to jail having to pay -- one of the few people actually held accountable having to go to jail paying hundreds of thousands in restitution. but her supervisor got a promotion. she is now the e.p.a. administrator and i have questions about her ability to actually admin strait when she had a small office she couldn't do it now she has a large one these continue to persist. unfortunately, mr. beal's fraud is not isolated. the head of e.p.a.'s office of homeland security -- this is the head of the e.p.a.'s office of homeland security had a lengthy record of sexual harassment that was not properly investigated. e.p.a.'s region 5 was mired in harassment and retaliation. whistleblowers placed blame for
the toxic culture squarely on former region 5 administrator susan headman who resigned under dures in the wake of flint water crisis. remarking on this situation, an e.p.a. union representative testified, there is a serious lack of accountability or transparency at e.p.a. when a manager is the problem. these incidents represent a systemic cultural problem and failure at the e.p.a. recently, the e.p.a. inspector general's office released details on investigations of more than 60 cases of misconduct closed in the last several months. many contained details and i recognize this is c-span and it's an early hour but parents be forewarned this is not a subject for young kids at any hour. but nevertheless we need to expose it in order to solve it. in one case a convicted child molester -- convicted -- was on
e.p.a.'s pay roll for years even after the e.p.a. learned of this offense. what is so terrible about this situation and just can't not explain or justify is e.p.a. knows that this person is a convicted child molester and yet the e.p.a. put him in a position to interact with the public. he was out there literally interacting with the public. this person was found to have police sirens placed on their person vk, on their person al car lights and sirens, hand cuffs, counter fit badge. it wasn't until a probation violation that it actually got highlighted and dealt with. in another case, an e.p.a. employee was found to have stolen and pawned thousands of dollars of office equipment. yet wuth was not fired. she admitted takingsen times equipment in the office and taking it to a pawn shop, putting it in her pocket and
she is not fired. mr. myberg actually oversaw this person. not directly but was in his team. it is just unbelievable this person was not fired. after her felony theft conviction she is still employed at the e.p.a. to this day. we have a lot of good, hard-working people who want and need jobs. who will serve this country honorably. why in the world should somebody convicted of stealing from work, a felony conviction, still enjoy the employment and being paid by the united states taxpayer? we have pages and pages of similar cases. and one has to wonder if the e.p.a.'s culture and lack of accountability is a contributing factor to tragedies like the gold king mine spill or the flint drinking water crisis. the committee will continue to investigate until those are
held accountable for their failures. people are going to make mistakes. we understand that. these are not mistakes. these are patterns of misbehavior that are unacceptable. i introduced a piece of legislation h.r. 4360 which passed this committee and the house the official personnel file eeb hansment act which requires the agency to record any findings into a file. i hope this helps so that these pless cannot justing tole from one agency to the other without having their information shared with others. the bill prevents an employee facing disciplinary action from simply jumping ship to another agency that would be not -- not be aware of their negative disciplinary record. we have another case here where somebody was -- that there were devices and air cards that were used excessively. one case a person in one trip -- i don't know how you do this but in one trip spent $18,000
and air card traveling, no restitution. no paying back the government. we have the devices, we have on $500 in drags calls leave. $4500. what was the punishment? counseling was the punishment. so we have a lot to talk about. the inspector general has done a good job on this and i look forward to a good hearing. with that, i will now recognize the ranking member. >> thank you so much mr. chairman. i do thank you for holding today's hearing examining employee misconduct at the environmental protection agency. this is the third hearing our committee has held on this topic this congress. i am encouraged that the eepas response to allegations of
employee misconduct has vastly improved. i, like you, want to be effective and efficient. i do not want to constantly hold hearings and hear about these problems and at some point we should be able to get them resolved. serious employment -- employee misconduct is indeed rare. but as this committee has seen, too often sage and the inspector general responses to misconduct cases have taken far too long the at the committee's hearing in april 2015, a little over a year ago, i asked the e.p.a. and the i.g. to work together to improve their coordination in employee misconduct matters. and i did that again so that we could be effective and efficient to get things done as opposed to going around in a circle. i also directed my staff to work directly with the e.p.a.
and the i.g. to help develop new protocols to improve their disciplinary processes. as a result, the e.p.a. and the i.g. are coordinating their efforts as they never did before. but as i often say, we can always do better. they are holding bye weekly meetings to share information about investigations. we can do even better. they are communicating more frequently about administrative actions. they are sharing reports of investigation with agency managers and senior officials at e.p.a. headquarters. but we can always do better. and e.p.a. and the i.g. have developed expedited procedures for certain cases. the outcomes from improved coordination are indeed promising. both the e.p.a. and the i.g. have stated that the new procedures have decreased the
time it takes for action on reports of employee misconduct. in his testimony, mr. myberg crets the new information sharing process with contributing to e.p.a.'s taking action more quickly after the i.g. completes an investigation. similarly, mr. sullivan from the i.g.'s office agrees -- and i thank you for doing such a great job. and he concluded that is mr. sullivan said and i quote, misconduct cases are now being addressed faster and more consistently by the e.p.a. management. but ladies and gentlemen we can always do better. as i said, serious misconduct is rare. but we have to take it seriously. e.p.a. reports that it has only 14 open employee misconduct reports of investigation from the i.g. for an e.p.a. workforce of some
15,000, that is less than 1/10 of 1%. but we can do better. this committee also has expressed concerns about excessive use of administrative leave. that has been a major concern of the committee. in february the agency issued a new policy on administrative leave. under the new policy, an e.p.a. employee may not -- may not -- be placed on administrative leave for more than 10 days without approval from the assistant administrator of the office of administration and resources management. this policy introduces a check that addresses our concern about overuse of administrative leave and the need for stronger oversight of this type of leave. the chairman indicated that the hearing today will focus on approximately 20 old cases that have been closed by the i.g. some years ago. as mr. sullivan states in his
testimony, and i quote, it is important to note that most of the misconduct occurred at least two years ago. in some of these cases the misconduct is in fact egregious. and such behavior requires a swift and appropriate agency response. but none of these cases is currently pending. they are all closed. now, i want to be clear. i don't see anything wrong with looking back, because i think sometimes touf look back so that you can be effectively and efficiently move forward. we can learn from thing that is have happened. so i don't have a problem with that. according to the e.p.a. and the i.g., all of these cases preceded the improved coordination process between the e.p.a. and the i.g. and i hope that you will address the difference you're seeing and the impact. and of course i'm sure you have your recommendations. mr. sullivan states that the new coordination process between e.p.a. and the i.g. should serve as, and i quote, a
best practices model for the federal government. so i am extremely pleased to hear that. it shows what we can do if we work hard with the agencies and investigators to improve their procedures. this type of work does not always get the big headlines but it makes a real difference. shows what this committee do through nuts and bolts oversight. while i am encouraged by the progress that has been made, i believe that there are still challenge that is we must and can and shall address. for instance, long investigation times in some cases may suggest a need for more resources for the i.g. i just don't know. you will have to address that, mr. sullivan. and there are cases about when employees are required to report criminal convictions. as we proceed, i hope that we can address these challenges
together in a truly bipartisan way like we have done over the past year. with input from the agency and the i.g. and the other stakeholders. because it is a fact that if we concentrate and try to get the i.g. and the agencies to work more closely together, i think we can get the kind of results that we are after and again we can be more effective and efficient. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. we will hold the record open for five legislative days for any member who would like to submit a written statement. we will now recognize our witnesses. please welcome mr. stanley myberg the acting deputy director for the united states environmental protection agency. we also have mr. patrick sullivan at the office of inspector general at the united states environmental protection agency. he is accompanied by mr. allen williams, the deputy assistant inspector general for investigation whose expertise
may be needed for specificity on certain topics during questioning. we want to thank you all for being here. we are going to go ahead and swear in mr. williams as well. pursuant to committee rules all witnesses are to be sworn before they testify. so we will also swear in mr. williams. if the three of you would please rise and raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth? thank you. let the record reflect that all witnesses answered in the affirmative. you have testified here before. i think you know the drill. we will try to keep your verbal comments to five minutes but we give you great latitude today. and after that we will give you questions. >> chairman chafe its, ranking member cummings, and members of the committee thank you for the opportunity to testify today
before you about the environmental protection agency's efforts to address employee misconduct. i am stan myberg and i've had the prifflidge of working at e.p.a. for nearly 40 years holding positions at our headquarters in washington, d.c. our regional offices in atlanta and dallas, as well as research triangle park in north carolina. for 18 years i served as region 4's deputy regional administrator before retiring in early 2014. since returning to the agency in october 2014, i have been honored to serve as acting deputy administrator discharging the duties of chief operating officer for the agency. each day i am reminded of the excellent work e.p.a. employees do on behalf of the american people. for my engineers and scientists in the field to our technical experts and our lawyers here in headquarters. i am proud to be a part of the agency and its mission to protect human health and the
environment. in our workplace there are employees who engaged in misconduct and unfortunately e.p.a. is no exception. when such unfortunate instances occur we are committed to holding our employees accountable. we have and will continue to work with the powers granted to us by congress and the administrative tools at our disposal to ensure improper conduct is met with appropriate penalties and that conversely excellence is recognized accordingly. but i must stress the isolated misconduct of the few must not overshadow the dedication and hard work of over 15,000 e.p.a. employees who commit themselves every day to the important work of the agency. since my appearance before the committee last spring, we have made multiple positive changes to the e.p.a.'s management policies and procedures. e.p.a. has taken measures to support our first-line supervisors who carry substantial responsibility in
ensuring that misconduct is addressed promptly and appropriately. we have updated the first line supervisors tool kist and organized focus groups to understand their needs to ensure that supervisors are able to take fair leel and effective disciplinary action for the betterment of the agency as a whole. in addition, earlier this year as was noted in the ranking member's comments, the agency revised its policy on administrative leave addressing a concern that this committee has raised in the past. the agency now demands additional justification and review for administrative leave requests and limits the time period of leave to 10 days with limited exceptions such as when an employee poses a danger to the agency and its employees. finally, earlier this year, e.p.a. administrator jeana mccarthy issued an elevationwide memo to encourage staff to raise issues to
managers and instructing managers to be receptive. it is our hope that this in addition to providing training and tools will help first line supervisors to address this quickly and effectively. in addition to our own work, the e.p.a.'s office of inspector general plays a critical role in addressing misconduct and helping the agency operate at our best. as a result of the work that this committee and especially ranking member cummings, we have improved our working relationship with the office of inspector general which has enabled us to take more efficient administrative action. we now meet by weekly to discuss the status of pending investigations and have agreed upon procedures and timelines for effective information sharing. these meetings and the improved bilateral communications contribute to the e.p.a. taking action more quickly upon oig's completion of its investigation and help reduce the need for
additional fact-finding by the agency in preparing administrative action. in closing, e.p.a. and its employees have spent nearly five decades working to safeguard public health and the environment for the people of this country. i am proud of what we accomplish every day. on the rare occasions when misconduct occurs we must address it appropriately. i look forward to discussing the progress that e.p.a. has made in this regard with you today. thank you for the opportunity. and i look forward to answering any questions that you may have. thank you. >> i appreciate that. mr. sullivan you are now recognized. >> good morning, chairman chaffitz, ranking member cummings. i am inspector general i am happy to report that since i last testified before this committee in april 2015 the agency's internal adjudication process has dramatically improved at the suggestion the oig and the agency now meet by
weekly. these cases are now being addressed faster by e.p.a. management. i believe this process can serve as a best practice model for the federal government. many allegations are investigated and some are ultimately determined to be unsupported. oig investigations often clear an individual. our job is to collect and present the facts in a fair and unbiased manner. we are just as proud of our work in the case that is clear an employee as we are when our work leads to a criminal conviction. now i would discuss a few significant cases. in 2014 the oig seattle field office interviewed a contractor who had previously worked for e.p.a. for the past 20 years stating he was addicted to pornography he admitted to viewing pornography on his government issued computer. he watched one to two hours a day. he avoided detection for many
years because he used commercial software to scrub his computer. he also used search engines hosted in a foreign nation. the contractor was fired. the oig was successful in recovering $22,000 the amount of contractor viewed porn zpwraffy and the oig made e.p.a. aware of the network vulnerabilities that enabled him to avoid detection for 18 years. in 2013 the oig was notified by the u.s. attorney's office in connecticut that a special agent assigned to the criminal division may have been engaged in a ponzi scheme. the special agents' name has surfaced during the progs cushion of a ring leader invfling gifting tables. participants would pay a $5,000 gift to the person occupying the top level. the investigation determined that they had made a false statement written she consealed the fact that she had received $2500 in cash from her
participation in the scheme. the special agent retoured. she pled guilty to one felony count of making false statements and sentenced to one-year probation and ordered to pay $8,000 in fines and restitution. in 2013, an oig special agent in the atlanta field office proactively checked a list of property reportedly lost or stolen through a law enforcement data base. this search resulted in a hit on a digital camera pawned in georgia. the subsequent investigation revealed that on several occasions an e.p.a. employee pawned e.p.a. cameras and cam corders resulting in a loss of $3117. the u.s. attorney declined federal prosecution. however, we were successful in presenting the case to local prosecutor and the employee pleaded guilty and sentenced three years probation and ordered to pay restitution. this was a felony conviction. the employee's supervisor proposed suspension for 120 days. following an appeal by the
employee the region 4 deputy administrator downgraded the suspension to 30 days. in 2006, the oig dallas field office was informed that a civilian employee was cited by the dallas police for improper use of emergency lights on his personal vehicle while also being a registered sex offender. he had been convicted in 1997 for indecent acts with a minor. the employee also possessed an imtation badge which accompanied his credentials which were displayed by the employee to the police officer. in 2006 the e.p.a. declined to prosecute. e.p.a. then imposed discipline in the form of a 60-day suspension. in 2013 the dallas police sex offender unit requested assistance from the oig in arresting the same employee for violation of probation. he was arrested on the probation violation charge. the oig also developed information that the employee may have viewed and possessed child pornography on his computer. however, an examination of the
computer revealed no evidence of this. the employee was terminated from his employment from the e.p.a. subsequently the board overturned the termination and ordered that he be rehired by the eepavement in 2015 the employee entered into a settlement agreement in which he agreed to resign. we pledge to continued to work closely with the agency the department of justice and congress to ensure that allegations of misconduct are quickly and properly addressed. we appreciate your continued interest. mr. chairman that concludes my prepared statements. >> i now recognize myself for five minutes. let's go back to that most recent case with the child molester. conclude that part about the merit system pross tex board. based on the brief evidence that you shared with us, the
scenario of the case, what were the other conversations that he got in order to resign from the e.p.a.? >> he received a cash settlement of $55,000 i believe. >> $55. the american people paid him $55,000 to walk away? >> yes. but the i.g. is not part of those negotiations. >> i'm not blaming you. you're the one that is actually highlighted this. it's hard to hold you personally responsible for that but we had to pay $55,000 to this person? >> mr. chairman, in this particular case -- which i am generally aware of. the case, as mr. sullivan noted, was one where we had proposed removal and took removal action and were reversed by the board. >> how do you lose that case? >> it's a complicated case that i'm not going to try to go into the details but the board found that the basis for the removal was not sustained.
so they reversed it. just - i mean, it's pretty stunning. what needs to change? you both are close to this situation. what needs to change? how do we need to change the merit systems protection board? because what is not happening is we're not protecting the american people and taxpayers and the employees that have to sit by this freak of a pervert. that -- we're not protecting them. so how do we protect the employees of the e.p.a. and the american taxpayers? what do we need to do to get the board to make the change? >> congressman, i would simply note a couple things. one is that we share your desire to protect our own employees from any adverse actions by other employees. so that is a clear area where there is agreement. >> how is it that this person can operate in this atmosphere for so long? i mean, in the case of dallas, how is it mr. sullivan you've looked at this case closely. how is it that this goes
undetected for so long? it wasn't in our system or -- >> well, it didn't go undetected. it just was not reported to the i.g. in 1999 our investigation revealed that the management region 6 in dallas e.p.a. management found out about his conviction and at that time he was stopped again by the police for using lights and sirens. i don't know about the sirens but i know about the emergency lights and that was brought to the attention he was counseled and told not to do that again but it was never brought to the attention of the i.g. in 1999. >> what was his position? >> he was an enforcement officer doing civil inspections for the e.p.a. >> so his job would be to do what? >> to go out to a site and look to examine determine if there was any environmental violations. >> so putting out there interacting with the public. how does this happen? if you know that this person
has been registered as a sex offender why do you put them in a position to interact with the public? >> i don't believe there is any particular rule that says that if an employee is convicted of a crime in general that they have to then report that to the agency. >> should that be the case? should they have to report ongoing? >> i think that is an important issue. and we are happy to work with you and the office of personnel. >> i'm asking your personal opinion. do you believe that if you are convicted of a felony? >> again, i am here in my official capacity. >> as somebody who is convicted as a sex offender, is there an internal policy to prohibit those types of perverts from interacting with the public in person? >> we have asked that question and we do not believe that we have the authority to institute a policy to that effect.
and we are not different from other agencies in that regard. but it is an important issue and we agree with you on that. >> all right. somebody here on this panel better sponsor a bill to get rid of perverts interacting with the public because this is not acceptable. somebody comes with the authority of the e.p.a. badge and then they've got sirens or lights on their car. and they're a registered sex offender. can you see the disconnect why people would be outraged if they showed up at your place of business or work? or some mom with her young child? and suddenly you encounter this person? how do you stand for that? >> again, certified badge law enforcement officials have special responsibilities even more so than ordinary e.p.a. employees. >> i can't believe you lost that case. part of me thinks we are going to have to work here. let's get the board up here to start explaining themselves how they think this is in the best
interest of the united states of america. my time has expired. we will now recognize ms. watson coleman for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good morning, gentlemen. thank you for being here. a lot of these case all the cases we are discussing were either resolved in 2014 or 2015. so these are kind of old cases. right? and so since then we have had changes in our policies and practices at the e.p.a. that would at least address allegations of misconduct that come before them in terms of resolving them and as well as administrative leave policies. is that not correct? >> yes, congresswoman, that is correct. we feel like in the last year we've made considerable progress moving forward. i would agree with the ranking member that we can always do better but we feel like we've made considerable progress in having better communication with the office of the inspector general and clearer policies on the use of
administrative leave. >> could you explain sort of briefly what specifically has changed that you've informed the rank and file and the supervisors and what the process for holding them accountable, aside from just interacting with the oig. >> the interaction -- well, in many ways all of a piece. we discuss with all of our employees the importance of first-line supervisors and their responsibilities and conduct in disciplining cases. we've also again on the administrative leave make sure that this cannot be used and the use has been curtalede for more than ten days. but the interaction involving the inspector general has been tremendously important because we refer cases to the inspector general when we have evidence of misconduct and ask the inspector general to investigate them. and it is very helpful in the course of that investigation to have the interaction we now do so that we can be clear that when we get information as
quickly as possible we can move on it. >> thank you. mr. sullivan, are you feeling that this interaction is helping to create a better environment a more protective environment and more accountable environment? >> yes. >> once you do an investigation. once something has been referred and you do an investigation do you make any recommendations back to the e.p.a. about the employee that has been investigated? >> as the head of investigation force the e.p.a. we do not make recommendations in our investigative reports. however, our zaurtors and evaluators make recommendations in their job. but that's a different part of the i.g. in a typical investigation we report the facts and would not make the recommendations. if we determine there were
safe guards, they were proving his time and attendance every week, which was a vulnerability that we reported that to our daughterors and they did an zaut. but normally we just report the facts concerning the specific allegation before us. >> do you feel that we've sufficiently moved in the right direction with the e.p.a. holding people accountable and developing the kind of information sharing system and accountability system that will mitigate these kinds of cases in the future? i'm not talking about the one about whether or not the individual who was a convicted sex offender should be hired and if so under what conditions but otherwise. >> i could tell you that in the past year as mr. myberg alluded
to the in his testimony, and mine, by meeting we have streamlined the process and we have broken down some barriers and we've had touched each other as human beings and managers addressing a problem. again, i want to make it clear what our role is in the office of investigations we just report the facts. we have nothing to do with the ultimate disciplinary process. >> i just have one quick question both of you can answer quickly, hopefully. are there other thing that is should be happening either on e.p.a. on your side as the nager of the organization or from your observation looking into the organization? we make sure they have good
information on cases that have come up in the past. fortunately for most of our first-line supervisors, a conduct discipline case is a very rare thing so when one comes up we want to make sure they have a contect for whatever action they may take. >> do you have anything you want to say to that in two seconds. >> we have gone from 360 to 289. and i personally involved 15 to 20 agents who can no longer work cases so i'm always playing catch up. >> thank you. >> the gentleman from florida is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good to hold this hearing and review some of the conduct of ome of the employees of e.p.a. important responsibility to carry out.
i am a supporter of the civil service system. and it was set up decades and civil ago to protect servants public employees being politically abused relieved of their positions. isn't that pretty much the case? >> yes, congressman, it is. and that is very important that we make sure that the system is not subject to -- > not rigged to hard-working people and then cast them out. on some political basis. i think that should be protected. however, i have 12 pages of some of the most egregious
abuses. i can't find any instance in which anyone was fired. did you say there were 15,000 e.p.a. employees? is that correct? >> more than that. yes, that's correct. >> did you say, mr. sullivan, you have 280 investigators or -- >> no, sir. >> staff? >> we had 360 five years ago now we're down to 289. >> what do they do? >> well, we have investigations. >> so they investigate. >> auditors. >> within the -- i'm sorry. they're investigating looking at reviewing the conduct of the 15,000 e.p.a. employees? >> i have 50 agents right now. >> ok. >> investigations. >> last year, 2015, how many people were fired from e.p.a.? >> i would have to defer.
>> how many were fired? >> i don't know. >> were any ever fired for that misconduct? >> yes. >> can you supply? do you think it's more than just my fingers and my toes? >> congressman, of the -- there were -- and i'm going to -- i want to be clear about my answer. >> well, nobody here got fired. the only one actually dismissed was the contractor. now, what's troubling is some of the offenses. to i just heard that we had pay $55,000 for a settlement. is that true mr. sullivan? you said you weren't involved. >> that's correct. >> was that the ped file or -- >> yes. that was the child molester. >> so we're paying child molesters $55,000. nobody gets fired. here's one e.p.a. official in washington gs-level 15.
getting a minimum of $125,000. here's -- ok. this guy sat around for years the past several years and watched porn getting $125,000. actually, i think he is still on the job. must be a great job where he can sit around collect $125,000 a year. re's a $90,000 gs-13, at least $90,000. a search of the employee's e.p.a. issued computer found 407 pornographic images as well as pornographic story written by the employee. i won't go into all that for public consumption here. the employee was issued a notice of proposed removal but retired. so nobody gets fired.
the way -- most people either retire. civil service was not set up to protect these folks. it was to protect folks against political manipulation. now, this has to be demoralizing to thousands and thousands of hard-working e.p.a. officials to see these people who either are involved in misconduct mis-- they were stealing money. and i can't find a single instance in which anyone was fired. they mostly retired. and when they retired, they get a pretty good retirement. don't they? >> they get their regular retirement. >> there's no penalty to their compensation when they retire. is there? >> congressman, under current law there is no penalty for -- people can retire or resign at any time. >> and that is the m.o.
you steal, you sit around and watch porn. you get convictions outside. and you're either put out -- you either voluntarily resign and go to retirement but nobody gets fired. i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman from florida. i recognized the gentleman from maryland mr. cummings for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. . t me try to understand there are 14 open cases. is that right? >> that's not 100% accurate. we have 14 cases pending at the agency in which we have already submitted the report of investigation. we have many, many more in the pipeline that we have not yet written the report of investigation. so we have approximately 90
pending misconduct cases right now. >> ok. and the reason why i ask that is because i said to myself now you talk about the agents that are available to investigate. and i was saying to myself, well, 14 cases. i know it takes a lot of man power but so you've got about 90 cases that you actually in volved in. >> yes. but we also have in excess of 150 additional cases, 97 fraud cases contracting and grant fraud. plus a number of theft investigations some assault investigations. so it runs a spectrum. for the misconduct we have currently 90 pending cases 14 of which have already been presented and we're awaiting adjudication. the other 76 are in various processes of u us investigating. >> where we have a situation where somebody is hired and serious felony,
do they have a duty to report? in other words they're already hired. what's the situation there? and where do we draw the line then? >> well, it is my understanding that for the most e.p.a. employees there is no requirement to report either an arrest or a conviction. obviously if you are a law enforcement officer like myself you must report. if you are an attorney you must report. if you work for the i.g. you must report. or if you have a security clearance you must report. but short of that short list i don't believe there is any requirement for any e.p.a. employee to report either an arrest or a conviction. >> do you have an opinion on that? i'm just -- you know, i'm just wondering because i know one of the cases had a situation where somebody was convicted after they were hired. and with no duty to report. it is very interesting because
when i practiced law i saw a lot of cases not government cases but others where people failed to report and they were immediately fired. when they found out. but so we don't -- are there other agencies that where they have to -- the list is longer than that? >> yes, mr. cummings. like for myself i've been a federal enforcement officer my entire adult life and i've worked for the f.b.i., secret service and federal air marshals. for those agencies you have to immediately report an arrest and certainly ab conviction whether you are carrying a gun or civilian employee. you have to report. so i was a little surprised when i came to e.p.a. and i learned that the e.p.a. rank and file did not have to do that. i've accepted that as that's the rules but i was a little curious as to why you just for the sake of knowing for a few if you put trust and confidence in a particular employee it may affect your judgment or your decision making if you knew the
person was just convict of say theft or embezzlement in a private life. >> tell me this. the -- we were just talking about a case where somebody received counseling some kind of counseling. when you look at the counseling situation there at e.p.a., do you think it's helpful? i mean, do you think it's strong enough? do you think -- and what -- and maybe mr. myberg can answer this. what triggers counseling? in other words, how do i determine whether somebody should have counseling and that be a part of say keeping them on? i know you don't have a lot to do with the final say but i was just -- >> thank you ranking member. it depends. the short answer it depends on the case and what the nature of the offense is if it was created out of ignorance or simply the employee did not know what a rule was then counseling may be appropriate. but each case has to be
evaluated on its own merits based on the facts of the case and the applicable law and regulation. >> the time is running out. but mr. coleman had asked tell me clearly, what would you like to see done so that we can be effective and efficient and so we can basically put you out of a job? you,rying to get rid of but you understand what i am saying. i am concerned that when we have an investigation and because i do not have enough special agents to expeditiously investigate allegations, justice delayed, is justice denied as the old saying says -- i don't have enough agents to address these allegations. that is why i of so many cases in the pipeline. if you do the math, my average
average 9.5 cases each and the agents in the field each.e seven cases a lot of cases in the field are multimillion dollar fraud cases that are very involved. i don't have enough agents to expeditiously investigate every case on my plate. >> will you continue to work with us to come up solutions to these problems? i get the money piece. you and mr. myford have been wonderful in trying to work this out but would you continue to work this out? >> it is beneficial to my office and the agency as a whole because we can move down the field much quicker. fromthink the general and -- i thank the gentleman from this -- from maryland. >> in several of these cases of employee misconduct that have
been reported took place in region four where you were the administrator. one of the cases in particular that is on my mind took place in your watch referring to a gs 12 employee making over $100,000 a year. they were found to be stealing thousands of dollars of property from the epa. the individual in fact pled theft and wasny placed on three years probation. astonishingly, they only received 30 days suspension by the epa. why obvious question is how in the world can an employee be found guilty and admit to felony criminal charges of stealing from the epa and not be fired? tocongressman i will speak
that case. i was the deciding official. i want to be clear that it was -- there was no question as to whether it was the employee did was wrong. when a case comes forward -- >> it was criminal. tooke criminal conviction place after we took disciplinary action. there are two coupe has -- one anddministrative discipline the other is a referral to a u.s. attorney or to local authorities which occurred in this case. at the time we took administrative discipline, the case in question was what was appropriate administrative discipline given the information that we had from the investigative report. which we do -- which we did. me that astonishing to a 30 day probation was all someone gets a free even pleading guilty to felony theft. even pleadings
guilty to felony theft. you were the administrator. were you involved in determining the disciplinary action? >> i was the deciding official in that case. deciding on that case, you are saying that you were not aware of the criminal charges when you made the final decision? aware thatnerally there was a possible preceding but i did not know the outcome of that case. >> you were aware of the thousands of dollars that had been stolen. that $3000 of camera equipment had been caught and lost to the agency. decision, determining that was only worth a 30 days is pension. >> there were many factors. in any individual case, there are many deciding factors that wheneciding official uses
deciding an appropriate penalty. i am obligated by law to consider all of those when reaching a decision on the panel -- on the penalty. >> it was amazing to me that the agency does not do more to -- to punish people who are stealing from the agency even when they plead guilty to felony theft. they still have the right to and privileges on the shoulders of taxpayers to continue working for the agency. i just cannot wrap my mind around this. this committee has heard time and again of the epa literally plagued with constant employee misconduct. time, epa the same routinely goes after his misses this country for much less -- routinely goes after businesses in this country for
much less serious wrongdoing. we hear stories of businesses all the time for slight infractions getting serious fines and yet here we have bit epa in a double -- and here we doublee epa in a standard with employees involved in criminal behavior who get 30 days suspension or less. it is a hypocritical double standard. it is disgusting to me to hear these kinds of things that the american people are fed up with this kind of stuff. they get slapped time and time again with fines because a latter is in the wrong place or whatever the slight infection may be and yet you guys are putting up with this, the state of the affairs at the epa is totally unacceptable to me, mr. chairman. i believe the epa wants the trust of the american people and the committee. they have a long ways to go to
get their house in order. i yield back. the gentleman from georgia, mr. carter is recognized for five minutes. ofmr. sullivan, in march 2014, and epa employee was arrested, jailed, and indicted for marijuana possession. it is my understanding that this employee had a grow operation and was arrested on felony position charges. i believe you highlighted this report onovember 2015 the epa's use of taxpayer dollars for extended administrative leave for been suspendedad for misconduct. according to that report, this onloyee was placed administrative leave for seven and a half months. was that correct? tell me that is not correct. >> it is correct sir.
>> again, he was charged with felony possession. he had a grow operation. and he was put on administrative leave and paid for seven or half months. -- and a half months. >> yes, sir. epas i understand it, the policy only allows 10 days. >> that is correct. that is the new policy. day time frame is a new policy. >> it was implemented after this? >> yes. >> it would not apply to them. >> the 10 day limit did not apply to them. wethat is not -- that is why paid them for seven and a half months? >> yes. --why with the
epa do this -- why would the epa do this? >> congressman, i cannot speak to the particulars on this case and what judgments were made by the deciding -- >> well, who can? >> that would have to be the administrative office where that was decided. >> we need someone here that we can fire. that is who we need. who makes this decision? who made that decision? >> decisions on conduct and discipline are made by the employee's supervisor or the decision director in the region. by a final decision is made a career appointee. >>? whodid they answer to that do --who do they answer to?
>> a regional director. >> i have been sitting here listening -- with all due respect, sir, it just seems like this is matter of fact. this is the way it is supposed to be. in the november 2015 report, did you not indicate that the epa should change some of its policies? >> the recommendations were made. yes. >> have you done this? are they ready? >> they are being implemented. now. >> they are in place now? >> the policy on administrative leave to limit administrative leave to 10 days unless there is a approval by the eight assistant administrator for the office of resources and management -- >> ok. i am ok with that.
it only happened once and we correct did it. is that correct? >> there was massive of abuse prior to the change of the rules. >> have you ever worked in the private sector? >> not for many years. haveught i was going to that opportunity following may 2014. but it did not work out. >> do you think they would tolerate that in the private sector? >> i cannot speak to accountability in the private sector. >> i can't because i am in the private sector. or i was. i am not now. i was. my colleague just made the point -- you go and find people -- fine people. we have to pay people on administrative leave. i got the answers i need it
today. that is exactly what i needed to know. recognize miss lawrence from michigan for her five minutes. >> thank you. todaye heard discussion about the new process for information sharing at epa and the dramatic improvement in management's response to misconduct. i want to applaud the agency and the i.t. for your work to ig forine -- and the your work to streamline that. it is good to hear about the positive changes that are occurring. many of the failures we have ton hearing about were prior the changes. i do applaud you. want to focus on another policy change that took place in
the epa regarding administrative leave. i also want to note that this is hearing that this committee has held over the past two congresses on the management of employee misconduct issues at epa. myberg, the new policy increases oversight over the placement of employees on administrative leave during misconduct investigation and adjudications. the new epa policy also requires to documentanagers alternatives to administrative leave that were considered and why they were deemed not feasible. is that correct? >> yes. >> would you tell me what alternatives should managers
consider before placing an employee on administrative leave? should betives considered regarding other kinds of work the individual could be doing instead of their regular duties if it turns out the investigation will impede their ability to do their regular duties. that would be the first place you would look. expect this new policy to reduce the amount of time that employees are placed on administrative leave? is that the goal? >> that is. we have been sensitive from the comments from this committee regarding the abuse of administrative leave and we want to curtail that process. >> this policy has been in place since february. have you seen any difference? has there been a reduction? >> we have seen some periodic -- dramatic changes.
fewer changes are coming forward. of the two request that came forward, one was approved because of safety to epa employees and the other was denied. -- i often like to interject that i served in a federal agency and was in hr, really haveons and the responsibility of looking at how you deal with separating inappropriate behavior but respecting the rights of an employee. it is a delicate mix. you have to hold employees accountable. i can tell you heading -- sitting here today that i want to employees to be held accountable. it is the expectation of the public. every employee is a citizen of the united dates and they have rights and the agency should have, and i am glad to hear that you have reviewed this process
to make sure they are consistent and not just up to a manager and that we hold employees accountable to do the work. to do the work that my tax dollars and every other american expects to happen in this agency. i hope we doue -- not have to have six more hearings on this but i will stay focused on what we are doing. i expect you'd to continued -- i expect you to continue to monitor this. expect the epa to continue to do the work they need to do to reject our environment. the gentleman from alabama, mr. palmer. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think we have
pretty well covered some of the problems from the epa regarding misconduct. there are some other forms of misconduct i want to address. specifically, about an investigation that is going on in the birmingham, alabama area epalving the epa in which employees have acted improperly. in conducting the investigation. specifically, seeking access to property without getting the permission of the owner and actually intimidating people who are buying houses on the property. i have an affidavit here. one of these people who reside on the property made these allegations that officials of the environmental protection agency approached him to test the property.
the epa officials presented a document asking for them to have permission to sample the yard. me official was intimidating according to this person. i felt very intimidated and compelled to sign the release even though i did not want to do so. upon signing the release, i asked the official what was so urgent to gain access to my yard. the official responded that they himin this suburb of arming to set down the abc coke plant tothe suburb of birmingham set down the apc coke plant. >> every time we have an allegation of misconduct, if the investigation shows misconduct
has occurred we take action to hold the employee accountable. >> do you punish that or encourage it? >> when an allegation occurs we investigate it and as agent dr. --n -- or as director sullivan specified, when of the things that occurs on many investigations is that it finds nothing was wrong -- done wrong. >> i would like to point out that this is not the only affidavit like this. there are several others. we are not going to release them or enter them to the record or use their names this time but -- do you believe it is appropriate for the epa personnel to pressure and intimidate citizens into endorsing epa's agenda? >> i am not familiar with the specific situation you are referring to. >> the specifics here are the
epa forced this renter to get access to property they did not have legal access to in an intimidating manner and afterwards told them the point of the investigation was to shut down a legal business. is that how the epa does business? do you encourage your employees to this? allow them to intimidate? >> congressman, i am familiar with the specifics -- >> i am asking, in general. >> in general, we ask our employees to behave in a professional manner. >> well, they don't always. congressman, our job is to go to makeenforce the law sure people are protected and laws are followed. that is what we do. >> let me tell you -- i have a
number of issues with the epa. and how they do business. how they handle their investigations. and i sent ay mccarthy administrator and the regional administrator for region four. back on february 26 of this year asking for information about the epa's investigation of this area. and got a letter back saying that with respect to your epa's behaviorhe -- unfortunately, the epa cannot engage in any level of discussion with third parties including members of congress. that seems to me to undermine our oversight ability. i intend, mr. chairman, to look
into this further. i would like to enter my letter and the epa's response into the record if there is no objections. >> no objections. ,he gentlewoman from illinois ms. kelly is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. applesuct from a few bad gives all of the other hard-working federal employees a bad name. as elected officials we can relate to that also. our goal is to ensure that agencies act swiftly and fairly in cases like these. this committee has worked with agencies to help them streamline their internal procedures. today, we have heard about the new policies and information sharing processes. solomon, -- mr. sullivan, you said in your testimony that in april 2015, the agency's
internal adjudication process has dramatically improved. >> that is correct. >> these improvements at epa have occurred not through legislative change. >> that is correct. >> in your opinion, do managers have sufficient tools under current law to deal with allegations of misconduct? , i do believean that. it is always the case that we can always do better and we strive to do that. we believe we have the tools we need in the agency to execute effective conduct and discipline. protections are there for a reason. in may 2015, the merit board issued a report that stated -- more than a century ago the government operated under a
in whichstem which -- employees could be removed for any reason including membership of a political party. the result of such a system was appointment and retention decisions based on political favoritism. constitutional due process arose from the law and congress enacted to fix that broken system. we believe that we can address serious misconduct to the application of our processes that do protect due process. mr. sullivan might do you agree that without a legislative change it is possible that improvements can be made? >> yes, i do agree with that. >> are the changes at the epa in example of that? >> yes. the biweekly meetings have dramatically improved the process. currently have the
tools to deal with allegations of misconduct but they could -- but they sometimes do not use them as efficiently as they could. that is when this committee can help agencies improve their procedures. i recognize myself for five minutes. mr. sullivan, thank you for the testimony and your work. youuld like to thank especially for the work and cooperation with this committee. we recognize your progress while still acknowledging there are many ongoing challenges within the agencies personnel and management. long-term reform and improvements requires more than just new procedures to manuals. it requires active support from
leadership top to bottom to foster a culture of integrity. solomon --gree, mr. mr. sullivan? >> yes i do. it seems you're are pretty astute about the law. i am not a lawyer and i would not make that claim. >> you have been very articulate. thank you, but that is not for me to judge. administrator on that case so you are familiar with personnel management. over the course of my career i have had a number of discipline cases come before me as the deciding official. >> could you briefly summarize your job description. >> i and the agency's chief operating officer.
my duties are assigned to me by the administrator. actingare serving as the deputy administrator and you should understand the law. >> i am serving -- >> you should understand the law. you are predicating this on understanding the law and all of those underneath you should be following you. you have also been nominated by the president to serve as the epa deputy administrator under the federal vacancies reform act. the you realize you cannot serve in an acting capacity in an office or you have been nominated for? have been assured by counsel that my service is lawful. do you realize that in such a situation, your actions have no enforcement? you are applying these laws. they go away. i would like to have the name of
the council that gave you that information. it is in violation of federal statutes and law. could you provide that to the committee? >> we would be happy to do that. withve you ever discussed anyone at the epa that you cannot serve as the acting deputy director after you have been nominated to serve in the same office? are you concerned that your actions will be challenged? >> i have been in consultation with our counsel -- the would like to have names of all individuals that told you that since it is contrary to federal law. i have been consulting with counsel that all of my -- >> i want the names of all individuals that gave you that consultation. your actions are in the defiance of the law. it does not surprise me though it baffles me.
the epa and the president have a long history of blatant disregard for the law. your boss, gina mccarthy committed perjury and made several false statements at multiple congressional hearings trying to to van -- trying to defend the agency's actions. she not only broke the law but she also lied to the american people in order to force overreaching regulations that have no scientific basis down our throats. perjury before congress is perjury before the american people. you sitting here imports needing the ceo and being offered to that office by the president is an affront to that as well. that is why i have introduced articles of impeachment to remove miss mccarthy from office.
step down ashould well. you cannot serve as the acting official when you are nominated to fill that post. it is against the law. the personal management within the epa is a mess but that is no surprise when the agencies top officials are willful lawbreakers themselves. you create that culture and that is why you were set up accordingly. that is why it is going to be really nice to me because we have figured out a way to make sure the impeachment proceedings go to the floor and make someone a tone for their actions. it is a mess and it is sad that we have to bring this particularly when you should know the rules better. that goes along with the council. i will expect those names of all of those counsel and their titles immediately to this committee for review. i thank you and i am disgusted. i now recognize the gentlewoman from the district of columbia, this norton. you, mr. chairman.
to get back to one of the themes of this hearing -- i have been interested to hear about the testimony that has been given on improved coordination between the epa and the ig. the reason that interests me is that we obviously want to reduce the time that employees spend on administrativehing for the agen. i am interested in the investigative process. i recognize that it takes time. you cannot cut corners. you can be sued. that some oftand these investigations can be very complex. sullivan, i am interested in the funding available to the agency to do the job that needs to be done in investigating can
you tell me what the staffing team that for the investigates misconduct allegations? currentneral, the is 289 employees. that has dropped in the last three years from 360. had 76ffice, i have -- i and i am now down to 61. because of the uncertainty in 55 budget, i now have full-time employees. 50 of which are special agents. the rest are signed -- support staff work computer or forensic people. i have 5/8 assigned to us -- i have 5 aids.
another 34d, i have agents that work misconduct investigations but they also work the contract fraud. the fraud cases are the bread and butter of the ig. we try to recoup the government's money. to answer your question, i have five full-time agents working nothing but misconduct at headquarters. and approximately 34 other agents that work the other cases in the field. >> when i hear staffing levels like this come it reminds me of what we see on television regarding tsa. i cannot believe that this is because everyone has decided to get on the plane. congress has to decide -- has to understand that if you want someone to do a job may need a certain number of people.
tsa has been under great criticism because they have not always been able to keep, weaponsg to the gao, from getting through. that is an interesting case. this, of course, is another level of complexity. i am going to have to ask you candidly, how can these investigators keep from cutting corners? with these kinds of staffing levels you have described that apparently have changed during your time at the agency. ma'am, i have seen no evidence of any of my agents cutting corners. i testified earlier that i am concerned that cases take way too much time to come to conclusion because frankly, -- circlinge the planes
to use an analogy. employeevestigating misconduct is not the only responsibility of the i.t.. -- ige. . >> we are constantly juggling. we priority -- we prioritize every day. we handle the most important cases first. you still have to take care of the other cases in the pipeline. >> what about the non-employee misconduct related investigations that the ig conducts? 60% of ourately cases are the combination of assaultses, theft, and cases. by outsiders. someone getting into a federal facility and stealing equipment. >> there is a limit.
we are beginning to see what the limits are. i wish you luck with the appropriations process. >> right now recognize the gentleman from michigan. this is not the first time this committee has looked into the epa for its questionable g i foia practices. that is an issue i would like to address. the epa has been a tory us for having extremely long delays in notorious foren having extremely long delays in foia request. recently, mark edwards testified that he waited for several years for his foia request to be failed.
many were filled the day after he appeared before this committee. on the flint water issue. others, ias well as believe very clearly should diminish the public confidence in the epa's ability to be open and transparent. could you tell us why it takes the epa so long for these foia request to be filled? foianerally, we take our responsibilities. seriously. in recent years, there has been a substantial increase in those requests. in responding, we have tried to foia expert to make sure that we are fully responsive. >> when was that team initiated? >> within the last year. >> are we seeing improvements that you can tell us about?
where he --rking very hard but we do not have any statistics. >> i know you have to get a lot of requests. undoubtedly. when you are dealing with very a issues, substantive issues, the flintthe u.s., water crisis where government failed at all levels -- people have been hurt. there are emotional issues dealing with requests. there are reasons why the epa has been brought before us on several occasions dealing with foia. going on to purchase cards which was introduced in our chairman's opening comments. can epa keep better track of the purchase cards and the usage of those cards by your employees? >> we have made a number of changes in response to interest
from the inspector general's toice and our own concern put in place better systems for keeping track of activities that have occurred. on purchase cards. flagging anything that is suspect. >> has there been an audit done relative to the employees? we are always continuing to follow up and make sure that we have appropriate systems in place to detect any misconduct. why is it that epa employees that spend thousands of dollars taxpayer money on personal expenses can get away with not having to reimburse the agency? congressman, we share your concern about that. the cases that are before us were over ases that
couple of years ago. we have made progress going forward to identify the cases and address them. >> the particular individual that expended over $22,000 in international roving charges --willacationing abroad that employee be required to reimburse agency? >> i am glad you brought that case up because we are going back in an effort to recover the cost. >> the challenge? vacationn employee on may be making work contacts back to the agency. we need to make sure that we can separate those out. >> mr. sullivan, can you add anything relative to that? resigneddividual before we presented our findings to the agency. as a follow-up, the agency preliminarily determined that it
was too difficult to decide that up that $22,000 how many of those were work-related. in april of last -- in april, they came back and said they were taking a second look. >> i am hoping a second look would be taken and i applaud those efforts but in the end, if there are fraudulent or criminal involvement with that in play, i would hope we would go after -- with that employee, i would hope we would go after them. employees like that are ruining the credibility of good employees. of cloud is put on because people willing to misuse their purpose and the tools they have. help us out with that. i yield back. >> i now recognize the gentleman
from south carolina. >> i want to follow-up on a couple of questions that were raised during your discussion with mr. palmer. he was talking specifically about a circumstance in alabama where to use his language there was an allegedly overzealous epa employee. we hear of this all of the time. it ranges from the terms overzealous to shake down depending on who you're talking to. the question that did not get asked because we ran out of time is this --has anyone ever been fired for doing that? citengressman, i cannot any specific example. i will interpret your question and i need to know if i am hearing it correctly. been fired for -- tousing their position
intimidate someone. enforcing the law is what we hire you to do. occasionally, it is possible that a bureaucrat or a government employee may overreach. they may not like the person they are dealing with or approve of the business. i used to be a real estate developer and i assure you that there are a lot of people that like to hug trees and don't like what i do. there is attempt a shin of employee to overuse the power the government has given them. will push a little harder. has anyone ever been fired for that. >> first of all, i appreciate your observation about the job of law enforcement not being popular. i am not aware in my own experience of the case that is similar to what i am hearing you say as someone who has overused
their ability. i will ask the staff to go back and look. >> if there are allegations of that, that someone had been overzealous or perhaps exceeded their authority. with that rise to the level of something the oig would look at? >> it could. but in my knowledge it has not been referred to the oig. more generally, have you ever investigated allegations of overreaching authority on behalf or on the part of an epa employee? >> yes. >> has anyone ever been terminated for those actions? >> off the top of my head, i cannot remember how the cases were adjudicated.
we have had allegations of people using their position to that isvor, something not readily available to an average citizen. -- oftypes of it instances. or instances where someone has misused a government vehicle or government funds. >> there was a fairly high example of an employee in the san francisco area who lent out to a piece of equipment to an environmentalist group. are you familiar with that? the person was not fired. this -- question is give me a couple of examples, what does it take to get fired from the epa? what do you have to do? kill someone? >> it can be short of that.
there are cases where we have done terminations. arekinds of behaviors that involved are pretty unpleasant and not the kinds of things you would ever want to have an employee engage in those. when they do, on a case-by-case basis, considering an employee's due process rights, and making sure that you have all of the facts and have proven the allegations, that you do in fact terminate employees. and ip me understand recognize we are speaking in generalities but if you had to -- when you are dealing with allegations of impropriety and you determine them to be valid, what percentage of people quit or retire versus getting fired? have an exact percentage. it is not uncommon that people
who find themselves faced with a proposed termination will make an election to retire or resign. >> and then they get to keep their benefits? the answer is yes. they do get to keep their benefits. >> except in some very limited cases like treason. >> as a manager, you manage your job would it make easier if we gave you that additional tool on a expand --se aces or to deny people who have acted with impropriety -- >> i think we have the abilities under our existing tools to misconductly address
and to hold employees accountable. i want to make sure that we are using those tools as effectively as we can. >> if we gave you this additional tool, that would help you. >> that would be speculation. recognize the gentlewoman from the virgin islands. >> good morning. hearingast april's regarding the epa management issues, the chairman highlighted management failures at the epa. i am not sure if that characterization is an appropriate one and it appears that we are still in discussion about this today. i wanted to discuss what has occurred since last april. it is my understanding that the epa has taken significant steps to address weaknesses in the disciplinary process. i don't think necessarily firing enough -- a bunch of people is a sign of a good manager.
your testimony described the progress made and you stated -- and -- as a result of the work of this committee, we have improved our working which hasip with oig enabled us to take more efficient administrative actions. would you care to elaborate on that statement? >> this has been a two-way street. we feel we have reached out to the inspector general's office and they have reached out to us in pursuit of a common objective. we want to make sure that employees are held accountable and the misconduct cases are dealt with appropriately while making sure that we do that in a way that protects -- >> how is that relationship different from previously? i couldn't say for the agency as a whole. but there has been reach out on both sides and it is commendable.
>> mr. sullivan, would you agree with that? your statement was that the agency's internal adjudication process has dramatically improved. is that correct? >> yes. prior to the biweekly meetings, if we had a misconduct investigation in denver or san francisco, the folks at headquarters had little visibility on that and it may languish for months or years. now, every misconduct investigation pending across the agency, the attorneys at epa headquarters, and the labor and employee relations folks meet biweekly. languishingould be in san francisco for example but now, they are no longer able to language. the folks at headquarters are pushing it along to make sure that the cases are addressed efficiently. the cases are moving more
quickly than they were before. and you have evidence of that, quantitative evidence? havethin the past year, we --cessfully closed for the we have successfully closed our cases at a much higher rate. >> have you been satisfied with the recommendations that the agency has made on those cases? >> our job is to collect the fair and unbiased manner. it is not relevant whether i think the discipline is appropriate. >> you have said that the process you are describing and you quote -- i believe this process can serve as a best practices model for the federal government. >> i've spoken to mr. cummings staff and they are making an
effort to reach out to the ig committee to use the model. maybe this is a way to get the cases to move faster government wide. >> i think that would alleviate this committee from having as many cases -- as many hearings. we could get on with the work of congress. would you support efforts to encourage government wide adoption of this? your office would be willing to work with this committee to do that? >> we do support that and we have worked with the committee but one caveat, the epa is somewhat unique in that we do not have any subcomponents. or thetake dhs department of justice, they have multiple subcomponents. the model we have at the epa would probably not work with the department that has subcomponents. about what thought might work in an agency like
that? >> no, i have not. >> it seems like the epa and oig have shown how coordination can help. i'm grateful for the work you have done since april from our first hearing to address many of these issues and move these cases along to closure. i don't believe, having managed that necessarily firing people is the measure by which one determines the you have done a good job in terms of dealing with misconduct. i'm grateful for the work you have done. >> a couple of housekeeping measures. we would like to know for the record and a have you answer back to the committee how many employees of the epa that bonuses.
i also want to make sure that we -- the names and the titles of the people that gave you permission. i would expect those in two weeks. one less thing, mr. sullivan, are you aware of the federal they can seize reform act? that hasware of anyone had the same plausible conflict? am generally aware of the issue that we were told by the agency that it is not an issue based on their counsel's opinion but we have not investigated that issue. to my knowledge. could we also have the names of the people that gave you that information? >> our const -- councils office. i will get back to the committee. gentleman here, mr.
duncan from tennessee who is recognized for five minutes. >> [indiscernible] i would like those names as well. briefed in my office by my councils office or at a meeting that this issue and according to the agency's general counsel it is not an issue. that is what i was told. >> i would like to know from your counsel and the council from the epa that they instructed that this was not a problem. according to the reform act, may beg that mr. myberg null and void. are buildinghat we here is predicated on the culture that exists at the top
levels. you lead by example. and that is what the problem is in this application. >> i understand the task and will get back to you. >> i am sorry. i was over on the floor and did not get to hear some of this but i have read some of the material about some of these employees who have been watching all of this pornography for hours at a time and to stealingat admit thousands of dollars from the epa. have any of these employees been fired? congressman, of the cases that we have looked at here, many of these employees are no longer with the agency. there were cases where employees were proposed for termination and they have resigned. >> you don't have any employees
now at the epa who have been found to have stolen money or who have spent hours of watching pornography. they have either left or resigned. have resignedees or been terminated and there are others who have been disciplined. some are still with the agency. >> disciplined in what ways? there is a wide range of disciplinary actions available to a deciding official based on the consideration of all of the factors including how long the employee has been with the agency, the severity of the misconduct and they include from to suspensions for a timeframe to reduction in grade. that you haveg changed some of these policies to make sure that this type of activities -- this type of
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