WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled “Hearing on the Nomination of Sean O’Donnell to be Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
The hearing featured testimony from Sean O’Donnell, nominee to be inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency.
For more information on witness testimony click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today, we’re going to consider the nomination of Sean O’Donnell to be inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Mr. O’Donnell is very well qualified and will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to this critically important position.
“I applaud President Trump’s nomination of such an experienced and dedicated public servant.
“The Office of Inspector General is an independent office within the EPA.
“It is charged with conducting independent audits, evaluations, and investigations of agency programs and operations.
“It’s tasked with preventing and detecting fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, and misconduct relating to the EPA and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
“It makes evidence-based recommendations to promote efficiency and effectiveness in agency programs and operations.
“Twice a year, the Office of Inspector General provides a report to Congress profiling its accomplishments.
“The report identifies significant deficiencies at the agency and proposes corrective actions.
“Although a part of the EPA, Congress provides the Office of Inspector General with funding separate from the agency, to ensure its independence.
“The Office of Inspector General’s work assists Congress and the public in holding the agency accountable.
“The EPA’s Office of Inspector General currently lacks Senate-confirmed leadership.
“Arthur Elkins, who had served as inspector general since 2010, retired on October 12, 2018.
“Mr. O’Donnell has the right experience to replace him.
“For nearly twenty years, Mr. O’Donnell has devoted his career to public service.
“Since 2005, he has served as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.
“He currently works in the Criminal Division’s Bank Integrity Unit.
“Previously, he worked for the Civil Fraud Section and Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division.
“He also was part of the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section.
“He has handled criminal and civil matters, such as those relating to financial and government program fraud, and public corruption.
“Mr. O’Donnell is familiar with the use of sophisticated investigative and forensic tools.
“He has managed large investigative teams of attorneys, analysts, and investigators.
“And he has worked with agents and auditors from half a dozen Offices of Inspector General.
“He has received numerous honors and awards for his work at the Department of Justice.
“In 2017, he received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service, the second highest honor awarded by the department.
“That year, he also received the Executive Office for United States Attorneys Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team.
“During the Obama administration, he received a Civil Division Special Achievement Award and numerous annual quality service awards.
“Mr. O’Donnell’s commitment to public service extends to his personal life.
“From 2011 to 2014, he was the chair of the Ethics Commission for the City of College Park, Maryland.
“The commission is charged with encouraging high ethical standards of conduct by city officials and employees.
“Kyle Cohen, who is the United States assistant attorney for the Middle District of Florida, worked with Mr. O’Donnell when he was an attorney with the Department of Justice’s Civil Frauds Division.
“He wrote in support of this nomination: ‘Due to his relentless commitment in rooting out fraud, waste, and abuse of taxpayer money, Sean is an ideal candidate for an IG position.’
“Mr. O’Donnell’s background and experience make him an ideal candidate to serve as the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general.
“I look forward to hearing Mr. O’Donnell’s testimony today, and to moving his nomination expeditiously through the conformation process.”