EPA’s Inspector General Dings Agency For Failing To Justify Pruitt’s Pricey Security

Chris White | Energy Reporter

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to satisfactorily justify ratcheting up spending on security for former Administrator Scott Pruitt, the agency’s inspector general (IG) said in a report Tuesday.

EPA’s IG dinged the agency for allowing Pruitt to use 24-hour security detail instead of the method his predecessor used. The agency also made the decision to around-the-clock security without a proper security assessment.

“Failure to properly justify the level of protective services provided to the Administrator has allowed costs to increase from $1.6 million to $3.5 million in just 11 months,” the IG wrote in its report on Pruitt’s protective detail.

A letter from the IG in May alleged that Pruitt requested the detail shortly after his confirmation in 2017. But emails The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained that month show the agency considered ways to enhance the former EPA chief’s security before the Senate confirmed him.

Pruitt resigned in July amid criticism about his first-class flights, renting a room from a D.C. lobbyist’s wife, and increasing security spending. He faced an “unprecedented” number of threats, but his critics called into question those claims. (RELATED: Emails Show EPA Officials Planned For 24/7 Security Before Pruitt Took Office)

The IG does not address TheDCNF’s report. Instead, it states that “the failure to have effective and current standard operating procedures can result in the organization having unclear lines of authority, inconsistent practices, inappropriate or inadequate staffing, and excessive or unnecessary costs.”

EPA’s protective detail doesn’t have a process to address how much protection the administrator should receive or how to carry out that protection, the report states before adding a seemingly contradictory note. The agency can legally protect its own administrator, the IG said, while also arguing that only the Secret Service and Department of State have authority to protect Cabinet members.

Having unclear rules determining security details can make costs skyrocket. The protective detail incurred more than $3.5 million in costs from February 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017 compared to the prior period’s costs of $1.6 million. The agency was unable to provide documented justification, according to the IG report.

Pruitt’s predecessor, Gina McCarthy, used what is called a “portal-to-portal” security method, which entailed receiving protection on her commute to and from work. Pruitt’s replacement, Andrew Wheeler, meanwhile, requested in July that the portal-to-portal method replace the 24/7 method, the report added.

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