Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Cover-up: The EPA and its employees only archived 86 out of 3.1 million agency texts sent during 2015.
The EPA Office of Inspector General (IG) released the report requested by Texas Republican [Lamar Smith], which described enormous text message retention problems within the EPA. One unnamed senior official configured his phone to automatically delete texts after 30 days. The IG claimed EPA officials never “intentionally” violated the Federal Records Act and did not include the low number of archived texts in the body of its report, relaying it instead to congressional staff.
Multiple federal laws and regulations require that officials preserve all documents — including email and text messages — created in the course of conducting official business of the U.S. government.
Like the Pentagon officials I noted earlier today, how stupid does this inspector general think we are? When a government agency, in clear violation of numerous laws, archives less than 0.000003 percent of all texts, you either have to be willfully blind, stupid, or a participant in the cover-up to claim that this behavior was “never intentional.” Furthermore, the report included these juicy details, all clear evidence that the failure to archive was for at least two senior officials very intentional indeed:
The anonymous senior official who configured his phone to delete texts may have deleted vital information, the IG found. “The senior official responded that he did not have any text messages on the device for that (three-month) period,” IG auditor Teresa Richardson said in a podcast. “The device had been set to automatically delete text messages every 30 days. So it is likely that any text messages that were substantive and should have been preserved were deleted.”
The report found another senior official claimed to have zero texts, despite EPA’s quarterly mobile device usage report showing frequent texts from that person. Another official, a regional administrator, potentially lost federal records by failing to transfer or otherwise preserve texts after replacing an old phone.
The more people fired at the EPA, the better. It is presently being run by dishonest political hacks who are very willing to do things in direct violation of the law.