(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) independent Inspector General (IG) to investigate the fraud case within the EPA's Office of Air. On Friday, a court case was filed against a high level employee for stealing nearly $900,000.
“We need to know immediately if this corruption is isolated, or if not; who facilitated the tax dollar scam and the true depth of this accounting fiasco, as well as everything the employee may have been involved in during his tenure at the EPA." Vitter says. “This matter raises a number of questions about the integrity of the EPA’s workforce payroll and benefits process, especially since payroll costs are 25% of their budget. It seems that critical components of the process were vulnerable to abuse, directly contributing to massive fraud for over a decade.”
According to a August 23, 2013 criminal filing from the Department of Justice, the employee knowingly stole $886,186 from the EPA by collecting bonuses and extra salary. Vitter commended the EPA’s Inspector General's (IG) office for their successful work in uncovering this fraud, and is urging them to do a further investigation.
Read the text of Sen. Vitter's letter to the IG below. Click here for a pdf.
August 27, 2013
The Honorable Arthur A. Elkins, Jr.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Inspector General
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Mr. Elkins,
On August 23, 2013, the Department of Justice filed an information with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, charging a high level Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official with theft of government property under 18 U.S.C. § 641. According to the information, John C. Beale, former Deputy Administrator within the Office of Air and Radiation, “knowingly stole and converted for his own use money and property of the United States, to wit, $886,186” from 2000 to April 30, 2013. I understand the case will proceed through the proper judicial channels. However, serious questions remain unanswered regarding EPA’s internal processes that enabled such fraud to occur.
Based on the information, Mr. Beale acquired the money and property “in the form of salary, benefits, and certain Retention Incentive Bonuses for which Beale had not earned.” As such, this matter raises a number of questions about the integrity of the process that administers EPA’s workforce payroll and benefits. In the case of the EPA, it seems that critical components of the process were vulnerable to abuse, directly contributing to massive fraud for over a decade. As workforce payroll costs comprise roughly 25% of EPA’s annual budget, the integrity of its system is directly relevant to decisions pending before Congress, namely consideration of Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriations and the implementation of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (“Sequester”).
Accordingly, I request the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) immediately launch an investigation into the Agency’s policies and processes that facilitated Mr. Beale’s fraud, and to make recommendations to ensure that this does not happen again.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please contact the Committee on Environment and Public Works at (202) 224-6176.
Senate Committee on Environment
and Public Works