Audit: Obama EPA Paid Staff Overtime without Justification

By Zenny Phuong | August 15, 2017 | 6:05pm EDT

( – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated its policy during the last three years of the Obama administration by giving employees overtime pay without sufficient – or in most cases, any – justification, according to a report by the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG). 

In an audit released on Aug. 9, the OIG revealed “numerous instances of noncomplicance” with  the emergency overtime pay system at its regional branch – Region 10 covering the Pacific Northwest – and a lack of consistency and accountability in the overall record-keeping system.

The audit, which examined Region 10, found almost 80 EPA employees that earned extra for covering threatening situations and mission-critical work.

But only 25% of these employees obtained the required biweekly waiver for overtime pay.

The OIG found 15 waivers that covered these 21 instances. Eleven out of 15 did not provide enough information to decide whether each worker had actually engaged in emergencies or work critical to EPA’s mission.

Only one of those requests was approved by the Region 10 Human Resources Office (HRO), another requirement for overtime pay recipients.

“This occurred because the region did not have an internal policy or process in place to address review by the regional HRO, the need for sufficient justification, or the retention of supporting documents,” states the OIG audit.  “As a result, the potential exists that Regional 10 employees could be overpaid or be paid for work that does not meet the intent of premium pay requirements.”

When asked by the OIG about who tracks and maintains the waivers, neither of the offices supposedly responsible for guiding and processing the waivers were able to provide a consolidated list of documents for the period requested.

The Office of Administration and Resources Management’s (OARM’s) Office of Human Resources submitted a memorandum stating that the responsibility for maintaining this record rested with the Regional HRO, according to the OIG.

But the OARM also claims that EPA headquarters and regions are updating the biweekly pay cap waiver policies and procedures.

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer, which OIG said is responsible for processing the waivers, has not responded to OIG’s request for comments since June 2017.

The OIG has decided to continue reviewing pay cap waivers from both offices and the HRO at other regions.

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