Watchdog to investigate EPA's hiring practices

Watchdog to investigate EPA's hiring practices

A federal watchdog has reportedly agreed to a request from two Senate Democrats to investigate hiring practices at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Government Accountability Office (GAO) spokesman Chuck Young confirmed to The Washington Post that the agency would open a probe, adding that “work won’t start for a few months.”

"The exact scope of what we will cover will not be determined until work gets underway," Young said.

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The inquiry is in response to a letter sent last month to the GAO by Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseTrump brings pardoned soldiers on stage at Florida fundraiser: report Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill Pelosi warns of 'existential' climate threat, vows bold action MORE (D-R.I.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) demanding an investigation into whether the EPA circumvented the Trump administration's order saying that anyone in government cannot “participate in any particular matter” in which they had lobbied in the previous two years.

According to the Post, the two lawmakers believe the EPA used a provision under the Safe Drinking Water Act that allows the EPA to hire up to 30 people “without regard to civil service laws.”

The Post reported that an appointee to serve as deputy associate administrator of the EPA’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations had previously lobbied the government on behalf of her former business.

The EPA responded to the hirings in an email to the Post, defending them as legal and ordinary.

“The authority to hire under the Safe Drinking Water Act has existed since the 1970s,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told the Post in an email.

“EPA’s hiring practices are consistent with those of previous Administrations. Everyone has received an ethics briefing, is aware of their responsibilities and is committed to serving professionally.”