EPA’s inspector general plans to assess whether the agency is complying with President Trump’s ban on race-related training.
The internal watchdog office said in a notice dated yesterday that it will begin "an evaluation" to review EPA’s compliance with the requirements of Trump’s executive order that targets training for federal employees on diversity and inclusion.
The review comes at the request of Administrator Andrew Wheeler and will be issued in a report to the Office of Management and Budget by the end of this calendar year. The IG office plans to conduct its work with EPA staff in headquarters and regional offices.
"The anticipated benefit of this evaluation is ensuring Agency compliance with federal law," said the notice, which was signed by Khadija Walker, director of audits for contracts and assistance agreements in the inspector general’s audit office.
The watchdog office requested several documents from EPA for its review, including contact information for political appointees responsible for making sure the agency complies with Trump’s order; a list of approved diversity and inclusion training programs; records of debarment of contractors that provided training with "divisive concepts"; and the agency’s submissions to the Office of Personnel Management of training programs related to diversity and inclusion.
"Timeliness in your responses will be of the essence," said the notice, considering the Dec. 31 reporting deadline established by Trump’s order.
The EPA inspector general is also looking into whether the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board is complying with Trump’s ban, according to a letter released last week (E&E News PM, Nov. 18).
Trump’s order as well as a Sept. 4 memo from OMB launched the administration’s effort to prohibit such trainings for the federal workforce. They have sought to bar employees’ training centered on "race critical theory" and "white privilege," saying it is anti-American propaganda.
EPA has taken steps to halt such training at the agency, postponing race-related training sessions with employees (Greenwire, Sept. 16).
That has upset some employees at the agency. Last month, an open letter by staff in EPA’s Office of General Counsel said the prohibition was "corrosive and dangerous."