EPA watchdog urges grantees to blow whistle on fraud

By Kevin Bogardus | 06/18/2024 01:08 PM EDT

The inspector general alerts recipients of agency funds to disclose criminal and civil violations of the law.

EPA Office of Inspector General.

A sign on the door of EPA's Office of Inspector General, as photographed Feb. 4, 2020. Francis Chung/POLITICO

EPA’s internal watchdog has warned those receiving billions of dollars in grant money from the agency that they must report any law-breaking they uncover.

On Tuesday, EPA’s Office of Inspector General released a “fraud alert” to spotlight new requirements for the agency’s grantees to disclose civil and criminal violations of federal statutes. The alert comes as EPA is set to receive over $100 billion in the coming years from President Joe Biden’s trademark climate and infrastructure laws, much of which will be distributed by the agency in grants across the country.

Special Agent in Charge Garrett Westfall, based in the western division of the inspector general’s investigations office, said in a podcast accompanying the alert that EPA’s grant funds are passed through multiple layers down to subrecipients who carry out the actual work. Beyond the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, EPA already awards more than $4 billion in grant money every year.


“I have been conducting grant fraud investigations for 23 years and the federal grant program is open and ripe for fraud, especially at the subrecipient level,” Westfall said.