Private contractors turned an Environmental Protection Agency warehouse into personal rec rooms and an athletic center, according to a newly released report.
The audit by EPA inspector general Arthur Elkins showed that employees of Apex Logistics, the contractor that ran the warehouse in Landover, Md., had equipped the 70,000-square-foot facility with chairs and couches, TVs, radios, books and videos, a refrigerator and microwave, as well as "surplus" EPA gym equipment, reports The Washington Post
The home away from home was apparently hidden from security cameras by partitions and piles of boxes set up by the workers.
"Our initial research at the EPA's Landover warehouse raises significant concerns with the lack of agency oversight of personal property and warehouse space at the facility," said Elkins.
EPA managers, who hired Apex in 2007 for $750,000 a year "confirmed that they had not visited the warehouse before the inspector general's office briefed the agency," he wrote. The EPA learned of the situation last month.
Investigators also found "personally identifiable information and agency-sensitive files," including a box of U.S. passports, shown in a photograph in the report.
The audit also contains a letter from the EPA's acting administrator, Bob Perciasepe, detailing the agency's response after being informed of the situation on May 15, the Post reported.
Perciasepe said he ordered an evaluation of "conditions at all warehouses and storage facilities used by the EPA" and immediate action to correct any problems found. The evaluation includes "a thorough walk-through" of the facilities and quick report to headquarters.
The EPA "takes the recent situation detailed in the Office of the Inspector General's early warning report very seriously," agency spokeswoman Alisha Johnson told the Post. "As soon as we were alerted to the situation, we worked with the Office of the Inspector General to respond swiftly and appropriately."
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