EPA Rejects IG’s Suggestion to Recoup a Portion of Former Administrator’s Travel Costs

The EPA said it does not plan to recoup some of former administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel costs in response to the suggestion from its IG.

Former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is in the news again.

A recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General suggested that the agency may want to consider recouping $123,942 in travel expenses because it found the costs to be “excessive.”

The IG said in its report:

We estimated excessive costs of $123,942 regarding the former Administrator’s and accompanying PSD agents’ use of first/business-class travel because the exception that allowed for the travel accommodation was granted without sufficient justification and, initially, without appropriate approval authority. Although the EPA’s travel policy is sufficiently designed to prevent fraud, waste and abuse and is consistent with the Federal Travel Regulation, we found that the policy did not initially outline who had the authority to approve theAdministrator’s travel authorizations and vouchers.

It analyzed 40 trips totaling $985,037 in costs associated with the trips to come up with the $123,942 figure.

The IG was not adamant in its suggestion, but rather stated that it “recommend that the agency determine whether the estimated excessive airfare of $123,942 and any additional costs through the former Administrator’s resignation in July 2018 should be recovered…”

However, the EPA responded to the IG report, stating that the agency has no intention of recouping the costs because it found them to be appropriate.

The agency said in a press release, “…in evaluating the delegation EPA believes that the trips were authorized by an appropriate official, making cost recovery inappropriate. Additionally, at the OIG’s suggestion, EPA recently updated its delegation and provided retroactive approval of each trip.”

Scott Pruitt resigned from his position as EPA administrator in July 2018. His resignation came in the wake of several controversies at the agencies under his tenure, including some controversial pay raises given to agency staffers under Pruitt’s tenure, a GAO report which said the EPA broke the law in approving a soundproof phone booth for Pruitt’s office, and costs of his travels flying first class came under scrutiny. However, the EPA had defended the costs at the time, noting that Pruitt had faced numerous security threats in his position.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.