The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to suitably report billions of dollars in fiscal 2022 spending, the agency’s inspector general determined, prompting condemnation from GOP lawmakers.
A report released last week by the independent watchdog said the agency’s initial reporting to USAspending.gov — the federal government’s “official public source” of spending information — was “not complete or accurate” because the EPA’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) “did not follow its information technology configuration management procedures.”
“Consequently, necessary changes to the OCFO’s DATA Act Evaluation and Approval Repository, the system that facilitates the Agency’s USAspending.gov reporting, were either unimplemented or incorrectly implemented, and these issues were not identified via configuration audits,” the report said. “Additionally, the OCFO lacked procedures to detect errors and to confirm the completeness and accuracy of the data that it reported to USAspending.gov.”
The inspector general’s team found award-level obligations — or spending commitments — were underreported by $1.2 billion and award-level outlays — or money actually paid — were underreported by $5.8 billion, meaning that 12.9% of the EPA’s total award-level obligations and 99.9% of the EPA’s total award-level outlays were not reported in fiscal 2022.
Also noted by the watchdog was that the EPA also did not report “any” of its Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act outlays and underreported its COVID pandemic-related outlays.
“The lack of complete and accurate reporting also led to taxpayers being initially misinformed about the EPA’s spending, and policy-makers who relied on the data may not have been able to effectively track federal spending,” the report said.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who is chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, criticized the EPA in response to the inspector general’s findings.
“It’s outrageous and unacceptable that the EPA cannot keep track of its spending or inform Congress — and the American people — of how it is using taxpayer dollars. This eye-opening report only further highlights the need for more transparency at the EPA,” McMorris Rodgers said.
“It also raises questions about whether the agency is incapable of managing its record-high budget or if the agency is attempting to hide the amount of taxpayer dollars it is spending to advance the administration’s radical rush-to-green agenda,” she added. “The Energy and Commerce Committee will continue holding this administration accountable for its actions that are driving up costs across the board and hurting Americans.”
Among the other GOP lawmakers who chided the EPA were Rep. John Joyce (R-PA), who said on X, “This jarring report is the clearest sign yet that the EPA is unable and unwilling to adequately serve the American people,” and Rep. Lauren Boehbert (R-CO), who said, “This is completely unacceptable.”
As a result of the audit, the inspector general’s team made a number of recommendations to the EPA for improving its USAspending.gov reporting process. The watchdog said the EPA “agreed with” all the suggestions and provided “acceptable corrective actions” along with estimated dates for completing those tasks.
“EPA welcomes and appreciates the Office of the Inspector General’s oversight and recommendations,” an EPA spokesperson told Fox News. “EPA properly accounted for FY 2022 funding, which is validated by [the inspector general’s fiscal] 2022 clean unmodified audit opinion of EPA’s financial statements. This was an issue transmitting data to USASpending.gov, which has been corrected.”