Monday, December 11, 2023

EPA IG Report on CSB

Thanks to Richard Rosera for pointing me at the latest EPA Inspectors General report on “The CSB’s Fiscal Year 2024 Top Management Challenges”. This annual report required by the Reports Consolidation Act of 2000 (PL 106 - 531). The latest version continues to include three of the challenges from the 2023 report and adds a fourth:

• Operating effectively without a full board (initially identified in fiscal year 2019),

• Minimizing mission-critical staff vacancies and attrition rates (initially identified in fiscal year 2023),

• Improving cybersecurity (initially identified in fiscal year 2023), and

• Promoting ethical conduct.

The EPA IG notes that this order is not an indication of priority, severity, or precedence and explain that (pg 2):

“Each challenge relates significantly to the CSB’s ability to meet its mission of protecting communities, workers, and the environment. These challenges are all forward-looking to assist the CSB in its operations, as well as to guide the OIG in its oversight planning for the next fiscal year.”

While the CSB has a history of administrative issues, most of the currently identified problems outlined in this report can be traced back to the Trump Administration’s attempts to shut down the CSB. Trump budget proposal in 2016 attempted to zero out funding for the CSB, but Congress provided funding over the President’s not very strenuous objections. While Trump did appoint Katherine Lemos as the CSB Chair in 2019, he made no effort to replace two Board Members when their term expired in December of that year. Those high-level leadership challenges aggrevated existing tensions within the Agency and led to increased employee turnover and made it harder for CSB to hire replacement personnel.

This report would seem to indicate that the Board has made improvements in the administration of the agency since the three Biden appointed members have come on board. They obviously still have a way to go.

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