Energy

EPA Wants To Rebuild Its Workforce By Hiring Over 500 People

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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The Environmental Protection Agency has plans to rapidly expand its workforce in the coming months amid attempts by Republican lawmakers to cut the agency’s budget. According to a government watchdog report, the EPA is looking to hire more than 500 employees to replace those who left last year.

“On May 15, 2015, the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Administration and Resources Management announced an initiative to hire 500 to 800 new EPA staff by September 30, 2015,” reads a report from the EPA’s inspector general.

The EPA IG audited EPA departments to make sure they didn’t violate federal guidelines when hiring new employees to replace those that were “bought out” by the agency or left the agency early. Federal officials allowed the EPA to hire new people unless the vacated posts were “filled using the same or substantially similar position descriptions used for the employees who left.”

According to the IG’s report, “479 employees voluntarily left in 2014, with the EPA paying $11.9 million” in incentives to get those employees to leave. In 2014, the EPA was looking to “downsize and restructure” its workforce, but now it’s looking to add even more employees. The agency has plans to add up to 800 employees to its payrolls by the end of this summer.

Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe was not thrilled about the expansion. “EPA’s plan to expand the agency by 500 more people is another example of a vast growing bureaucracy created by this administration. Undoubtedly, these added government positions will be part of an initiative to continue imposing harmful regulations on the daily lives of Americans,” he said.

So what positions has the agency already filled? The IG report notes seven positions hired at EPA Region 8’s office “include two general attorneys, one supervisory attorney, two environmental protection specialists, one congressional intergovernmental liaison, and one supervisory environmental scientist.”

“In May 2015, the EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Administration and Resources Management announced plans to hire more than 500 employees by September 30, 2015,” the IG’s report stated. “During this effort, the EPA must ensure it does not improperly fill positions vacated through early-outs or buyouts.”

“We alerted EPA officials to the issue in this report and met with them on June 11, 2015,” the report noted, adding that departments within the EPA risk breaching federal guidelines by refilling jobs that were voluntarily vacated by employees last year.

“There are currently no management controls in place to prevent [bought out or voluntarily-vacated] positions from being refilled,” the report found. “This creates the risk of further improper use of funds for workforce restructuring.”

The IG’s report comes as Republican lawmakers are attempting to cut EPA’s funding in the next budget. The agency was saved this year, however, when Republicans pulled a $30.2 billion spending bill that would have cut agency funding because of disagreements between lawmakers over banning the Confederate flag at national parks.

“That bill is going to sit in abeyance until we come to some resolution,” Ohio Republican House Speaker John Boehner said last week.

The EPA did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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