Assessment of Allegations Involving the Environmental Protection Agency's Kansas City Regional Office

CED-80-17: Published: Oct 19, 1979. Publicly Released: Oct 22, 1979.

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A Congressman requested a review of procurement and personnel practices at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regional office. Newspaper allegations of improper practices had been evaluated by EPA. The GAO review was sought to determine the validity of the allegations and the adequacy of the EPA evaluations.

GAO found that the regional procurement and personnel operations were generally run effectively. Regulations and procedures were usually followed, although some processing errors occurred and year-end procurements were not adequately controlled. The regional administrator was involved in a small number of procurement and personnel cases where regulations or procedures were not followed and staff advice was disregarded. Morale problems existed because of the administrator's management style, staff reassignments, and involvement in administrative activities. EPA had appointed an individual with a limited background in dealing administratively with large, complex organizations, and then failed to provide direction and support. The EPA reviews were narrow in focus, poorly coordinated, and did not fully explain why administrative or management problems occurred.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should establish a program to provide administrative direction and support to regional administrators who are not experienced in Federal regulations, policies, and procedures and periodically assess their performance; determine the extent and causes of the region's morale problems and take action to resolve them; and instruct the Kansas City regional administrator to carefully follow procurement and personnel regulations, particularly in cases which may involve former associates. The EPA Administrator should require the regional administrator in Kansas City to monitor more closely year-end procurement spending, including backdating, and establish a procurement operation at the Kansas City, Kansas, laboratory for purchases under $500. The EPA administrator should require the procurement specialist to determine the causes for procurement processing errors; discuss tentative findings with the procurement staff when reviews are completed; and recommend corrective action to preclude the problems from recurring, possibly using successful practices in other procurement centers as examples. The EPA Administrator should require procurement management to respond in writing to the procurement specialist's recommendations.

    Agency Affected:

 

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