The Government Accountability Office will investigate the installation of a $25,000 secure phone booth in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by Administrator Scott Pruitt, E&E News reports.
In a letter responding to Democratic Rep. Pete DeFazio of Oregon, EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins said the GAO has decided to look into “appropriation law questions regarding the installation of the security booth.”
In the interest of saving time and resources, Elkins is dropping an Inspector General (IG) investigation of similar nature. IG investigations into the existence of the funds allocated toward building the booth and providing 24 hour security for Pruitt, as well as whether proper oversight guidelines were followed in spending the money will continue, according to E&E News.
The EPA installed the secure line for Pruitt to hold sensitive conversations without the threat of an outside breach.
“Federal agencies need to have one of these so that secured communications, not subject to hacking from the outside, can be held,” EPA Spokeswoman Liz Bowman told reporters in September. “It’s called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). This is something which a number, if not all, Cabinet offices have and EPA needs to have updated.”
The EPA spent another $3,000 on a “sweep for covert/illegal surveillance devices” in Pruitt’s office. The agency argued last month that the additional steps and extra security hired to protect Pruitt are reasonable considering the number of threats that have come against Pruitt and his family since he took office.
The EPA’s IG had launched 70 investigations into separate death threats against the EPA head up to that time, NBC Washington reported in October.
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