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ase Sera, United States Senate SEMMEEotibwore —Strtemcey oe ee COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS Sree on Seema WASHINGTON, D¢ 20610-6025 Bore Seen ocheasiecoematt March 19, 2018 ‘The Honorable Seott Pruitt ‘Administrator Environmental Protection Agency 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20460 Dear Administrator Pruitt: On November 9, 2017, | requested a legal opinion from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asking whether the EPA’s obligation of funds for a contract for a privacy booth in the Administrator's office constituted violations of federal lav, in particular, section 710 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 and the Antideficiency Act. In accordance with GAO's regular practice, GAO contacted the EPA on December 21, 2017, and requested that the EPA provide factual information and its legal views on this matter by January 23, 2018, In the weeks that followed, my staff has asked GAO for the status of its legal opinion several times only to be informed that, to date, GAO has yet to receive any information from the EPA. despite GAO reaching out to the EPA numerous times. I am alarmed that the EPA has failed — for nearly three months — to cooperate with GAO's requests. ‘The purpose of the GAO review is to determine if the federal expenditure on the phone booth complied with core federal laws related to proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars. Specifically, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 conditions the availability of funds for certain expenses associated with the offices of Presidential appointees, such as the EPA Administrator, ‘on a congressional notification requirement. Section 710 of the act provides that, “no funds may be obligated or expended in excess of $5,000 to furnish or redecorate the office of such [individual], or to purchase furniture or make improvements for any such office, unless advance notice of such furnishing or redecoration is transmitted to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate.” My understanding, based on press reports, is that the EPA obligated in excess of $5,000 in fiscal year 2017 to contract for a privacy booth for the Administrator's office. In fact, more recent press reports indicate that the total cost of the privacy booth may be as high as $43,000. In my view, a privacy booth is an improvement to the Administrator's office within the meaning of 'Pub. L, No, 115-31, Div. B, Tit. VIL, General Provisions — Government-wide. As defined by section 710, “the term ‘office’ shall include the entire suite of offices assigned to the individual, as well as any other space used primarily by the individual or the use of which is direetly controlled by the individual.” The Honorable Scott Pruitt March 19, 2018 Page 2 section 710, As such, the availability of funds for such an obligation was contingent upon the EPA providing advance notice to the appropriations committees. This committee did not receive any such advance notice of the obligation of funds for this contract or any other expenses related to the privacy booth. Without an opportunity to review the required notification, this committee was denied the ability to conduct proper oversight per the intent of section 710 and potentially prevent what I feel was a wasteful and excessive use of taxpayer funds, Further, in its response to committee and press inquiries, the agency referred to the privacy booth as a “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF)” and justified the obligation as a necessary expense for conducting sensitive agency business. However, the agency communicated to this committee that the privacy booth would not be certified by any national security agency. Further, T understand that the EPA already has at least one fully functioning, certified SCIP and that there are only limited needs for EPA personnel to conduct secure communications, This calls into question if the obligation was a necessary expense associated with the Administrator's official duties related to national security considering that the privacy booth may not be certified to a level at which classified information could even be discussed. Tam concemed that the agency may be misleading the committee and the public about the function of the privacy booth while also inappropriately classifying the expense as related to national security in order to avoid proper notification under section 710. ‘The American people deserve an open and transparent budget process. Given your role as a public servant and trustee of taxpayer funds, it is your fundamental responsibility to fully cooperate with GAO. I urge you to immediately respond to GAO’s requests so that GAO may complete their legal review as soon as possible. Sincerely, Com (daw Senator Tom Udall Ranking Member, Subcommittee on the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies United States Senate CC: The Honorable Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States

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