The Environmental Protection Agency’s internal watchdog said the agency has not properly justified its decisions to pay 23 employees more than traditional salary limits for federal workers.

The EPA’s employees who are paid as Title 42 employees get salaries as high as $250,000 a year, compared with the usual cap of $201,700.

{mosads}Title 42 is meant to be used to recruit specialized employees, such as scientists, for whom EPA jobs would not usually be competitive without a higher salary cap, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) wrote in its Thursday report.

But investigators found that the EPA’s reasoning for using Title 42 is “ambiguous.”

The agency’s personnel office “does not justify the need to use the Title 42 authority to fill a position and does not have a plan in place that describes how the hiring authority will be used.

The office is therefore “vulnerable to internal and external stakeholders’ speculation of misuse and abuse,” the report said.

The OIG found some other minor problems with the EPA’s use of Title 42.

For example, while the provision is meant to allow the EPA to hire people it otherwise could not, almost all jobs filled with the provision were previously filled by employees under the normal salary cap.

The report concluded that the EPA needs to do a better job of justifying its uses of Title 42.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia defended the agency’s use of the special hiring provision, saying it has allowed it to hire valuable employees that it could not have brought on otherwise.

“Through a limited use of the Title 42 authority, EPA has and continues to gain important scientific capabilities and advance a rigorous research and development agenda,” she said.

Purchia added that the EPA would review the OIG’s report and consider the recommendation the investigators made.

Tags Environmental Protection Agency

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