Failure of Leadership at Chemical Safety Board Puts Public at Risk
Washington, D.C. – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) today released a joint staff report titled, Whistleblower Reprisal and Management Failures at the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.
Chairman Smith: “Failure of leadership at the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has led to infighting, secret agendas and retaliatory personnel policies. These problems created a toxic work environment that resulted in the loss of a significant number of senior investigators. Consequently, CSB has conducted fewer investigations, which has negatively impacted its mission to protect public safety. I will continue to work with Chairman Issa to ensure whistleblower protection is a priority at CSB so employees can raise concerns without fear of bullying or retaliation.”
Chairman Issa: “Rather than addressing experienced investigators’ concerns about agency mismanagement, Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board leadership has stifled internal debate and retaliated against agency whistleblowers. Mismanagement under the current CSB leadership has created a hostile work environment, distracting the Board from fulfilling its core mission to investigate industrial accidents and issue incident safety reports in a timely manner. Real reform is needed at the CSB to restore collegiality, staff morale, and the integrity of the agency.”
On September 5, 2013, the EPA Office of Inspector General sent Congress a “Seven Day Letter” regarding CSB. Such letters are rare and signal a severe problem at an Executive Branch department or agency. The Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee launched an investigation after CSB leadership refused to cooperate with the EPA IG’s investigation into whether an employee in the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) revealed the identities of CSB employees who filed complaints with the OSC. If these allegations are true, the OSC employee could be subject to criminal prosecution.
The Committee’s investigation has revealed serious management problems and heavy-handed tactics at CSB, including evidence that Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso, General Counsel Richard Loeb, and Managing Director Daniel Horowitz have mistreated employees and created a toxic work environment. Through its investigation, the EPA IG also discovered that CSB leadership used non-official email accounts to conduct official business. CSB leadership may have also used non-official email accounts to avoid the investigative scrutiny of OSC and EPA OIG. The deficiencies uncovered during the course of the investigation and outlined in the joint staff report led the Oversight and Government Reform and the Science, Space, and Technology committees to conclude that CSB is failing to fulfill its mission.
- Chairman Moure-Eraso and Horowitz created a toxic work environment that resulted in the departure of at least nine experienced employees from the CSB. Because experienced employees left CSB, investigations dragged on for years.
- Chairman Moure-Eraso and Horowitz have mismanaged investigations to the detriment of public safety in certain industries. This gross mismanagement resulted in the waste of taxpayer dollars.
- The broken relationship between Chairman Moure-Eraso and the other Board Members has delayed the release of important investigative reports.
- Current and former CSB employees agree that Chairman Moure-Eraso retaliated against whistleblowers. As a result, all employees fear retaliation at the hands of the Chairman.
- Chairman Moure-Eraso’s disregard for the proper Board governance processes caused CSB employees and fellow Board Members consternation, leading to an unproductive work environment.
- The CSB has failed to cooperate with the EPA Inspector General’s investigation related to allegations that the identities of several anonymous whistleblowers at the CSB who filed complaints with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) were revealed by an OSC employee.
Read the report here.