Congressional leaders requested in a letter Friday that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials provide information about how they close-out grants, which account for an estimated $4 billion, or about half its total budget.
House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden and subcommittee chairmen Tim Murphy and John Shimkus sent the request in response to numerous investigations during the past 10 years that have revealed serious problems with EPA grants. (RELATED: Nonprofits Angry About Trump’s Budget Cuts Hid The $179 Million They Took From The EPA)
“For the past decade, investigations and reports by the Committee, Office of Inspector General, and Government Accountability Office (GAO) have uncovered waste and mismanagement in EPA’s grant programs,” the trio of Republicans, wrote.
“While EPA has made some improvements, recent reports continue to show the need for improved grant practices, including EPA grant money apparently spent by a sub-grantee for political advocacy, a state grant recipient accumulating millions of dollars in unspent grant funds while continuing to receive additional money, and concerns that EPA could improve grant monitoring practices,” they said.
Auditors from GAO found nearly $1 billion sitting in expired grant accounts across several federal agencies in 2016. Unspent funds are required to be returned to the U.S. Treasury. The EPA was not among the agencies GAO reviewed, the congressmen pointed out. (RELATED: The EPA Stashes BILLIONS In Slush Fund-Like Accounts)
Nearly 6,000 of the 8,800 expired grant accounts the GAO found were not closed, even though there were no remaining balances. The open but empty accounts cost taxpayers around $29,000 in banking fees for just one month.
The letter requested multiple reports and related documents on EPA’s expired grant accounts and evidence of extra monitoring for high-risk grant recipients.
Walden, Murphy and Shimkus represent districts in Oregon, Pennsylvania and Illinois, respectively.
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