Federal Lab’s ‘Extremely Troubling’ Data Manipulation Spurs Hill Probe

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A congressional investigative subcommittee requested documents Monday detailing nearly two decades of intentional — and apparently unpunished — energy data manipulation at a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) lab.

Analysts at an Energy Resources Program lab in Lakewood, Colo. manipulated raw data during two separate periods, first from 1996 to 2008, then from 2008 to 2014, The Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported.

The lab was consequently closed on March 1, 2016, and affected clients were notified, but only months after each period was discovered. (RELATED: Federal Lab Forced To Close After ‘Disturbing’ Data Manipulation)

The findings of internal and independent investigations “remain extremely troubling,” Rep. Louie Gohmert said in a letter to USGS officials. Gohmert, a Texas Republican, is chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

“In both of the briefings to the subcommittee, the USGS briefers could not assess the entirety of the damage attributable to the intentional, chronic scientific data manipulation with requisite specificity,” Gohmert said in the letter.

Gohmert made 30 requests asking for documents containing information ranging from the actions taken against employees responsible for the data manipulation, internal memos regarding the incidents, and copies of contracts for projects undertaken by the lab and an explanation of how they were affected.

USGS officials have refused to say who, if anyone, has been punished for the fraud. (RELATED: Federal Lab Refuses To Reveal Who Manipulated Environmental Data For Two Decades)

“The first documented instance of scientific misconduct at the inorganic laboratory occurred between 1996 and 2008 when a laboratory worker improperly adjusted raw data and failed to retest samples as required,” the letter, which was addressed to agency Director Suzette Kimball, said.

The manipulation resulted in analyses that were “outside of acceptable standards by more than 20 percent” in “25 to 30 percent of the samples,” a 2015 Department of the Interior inspector general (IG) report found.

A scientific integrity review panel found in the second instance that a chemist “‘intentionally manipulated’ data derived from the inorganic laboratory’s mass spectrometer,” Gohmert said. “The panel also noted that the laboratory demonstrated a ‘chronic patter of scientific misconduct’ in its operations.”

A second IG report also found that both USGS employees and clients suspected problems with the laboratory for years.

“While the two cases share similar facts of repetitive, intentional manipulation by USGS personnel and weak quality management procedures, that allowed them to continue for years, the USGS describes these as separate events,” Gohmert wrote.

USGS officials told the IG they would contract an external audit of the Energy Resources Program, but that has yet to happen, TheDCNF previously revealed.

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