EPA staffers told not to talk to media, inspector general, or anyone else
Staffers at the U.S. EPA’s office of enforcement were instructed recently not to talk to anyone from the media, the Government Accountability Office, or the EPA’s own inspector general‘s office in an email from a top EPA official. “If you are contacted directly by the IG’s office or GAO requesting information of any kind … please do not respond to questions or make any statements,” the email said, instructing staff to contact EPA press officers to answer the inquiries instead. EPA officials defended the move, saying it was attempt to coordinate communication more efficiently. However, the agency’s inspector general thought the instructions were more troubling. In a statement released Monday, the IG’s office said, “All EPA officials and employees are required to cooperate with [the Office of the Inspector General]. This cooperation includes providing the OIG full and unrestricted access to EPA documents, records, and personnel.” Environmental groups characterized the EPA email as yet another attempt by the Bush administration to suppress potentially useful information.