EPA to seek to share information more freely
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency assured Congress on Wednesday it will resolve a sensational dispute with its inspector general over allegations that an EPA office run by President Obama's top political staff interfered with independent investigations.
EPA's deputy administrator, Bob Perciasepe, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he will instruct EPA's little-known Office of Homeland Security to seek permission to share information with the inspector general's office.
The announcement arrived during a congressional hearing once a top investigator with the inspector general testified that the office, run out of the EPA administrator's office, had for years systematically refused to share information on external threats, computer security and employee misconduct, citing national security.
In 2012, the office signed an agreement with the FBI to be the point of contact for all investigations with a national security connection. But Patrick Sullivan, an assistant EPA inspector general for investigations, told lawmakers that national security was an excuse to keep his office in the dark on misconduct allegations.
In response, Perciasepe said he will direct the office to seek permission of the FBI to be more forthcoming with the agency.
“We do not want to have a problem with the inspector general's access,” said Perciasepe, adding that since Obama took office, EPA personnel had cooperated with more than 2,600 audits and probes.
“The vast majority of work is done efficiently, appropriately and with good result,” he said.