Members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee directed the Commerce Department inspector general to halt hiring until it completes an investigation of the office.

The panel is conducting an inquiry into allegations that department officials have tried to intimidate employees they thought were in contact with the Office of Special Counsel or congressional investigators.

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Committee Chairman Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithOvernight Energy: Watchdog to investigate EPA over Hurricane Harvey | Panel asks GAO to expand probe into sexual harassment in science | States sue over methane rules rollback Report on new threats targeting our elections should serve as a wake-up call to public, policymakers Overnight Energy: Watchdog faults EPA over Pruitt security costs | Court walks back order on enforcing chemical plant rule | IG office to probe truck pollution study MORE (R-Texas), ranking member Eddie Bernie Johnson (D-Texas), oversight subcommittee Chairman Paul BrounPaul Collins BrounCalifornia lawmaker's chief of staff resigns after indictment Republican candidates run against ghost of John Boehner The Trail 2016: Let’s have another debate! MORE (R-Ga.) and oversight subcommittee ranking member Dan MaffeiDaniel (Dan) Benjamin MaffeiThe UAW rejects the suggestion that protecting the environment is bad for the economy Maffei loses reelection in reprisal of 2010 Lawmakers to Commerce IG: Alleged whistleblower targeting 'intolerable' MORE (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser to detail requested documents for the panel's investigation.

"Such conduct, if true, is intolerable," the lawmakers wrote. "It is our duty as members of Congress to help ensure that federal employees are not retaliated against in their attempts to divulge waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement or unethical behavior by agency officials."

The lawmakers requested that the inspector general hold off from hiring or dismissing employees until the investigation is finished.

In the letter, the lawmakers asked the office of the inspector general to provide by Sept. 9 copies of all manuals detailing the policies of internal investigations; records of all internal investigations of the office's staff since January 2012; and records of any efforts to obtain communications between Commerce Department staff related to internal investigations. 

The members further requested that the inspector general and deputy inspector general provide all personal devices and access to personal email accounts due to allegations that Deputy Inspector General Morgan Kim used personal devices to conduct official business. 

The panel also said it would like to interview 24 Commerce Department staffers individually.

"Because of the current atmosphere that is clearly present within your office and the fear by many that they will become victims of reprisal if they cooperate with this committee or other official investigations into your office, we would like each of the individuals listed below to appear alone," they wrote.