EPA OIG's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General is meeting the new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by initiating audits, evaluations and investigations related to the pandemic's impact on the EPA's and CSB's missions, and its impact on public health and the environment at the core of those missions. We have started examining and identifying how the pandemic has affected Agency programs and operations, from such concerns as water infrastructure worries to air quality enforcement to misconduct or criminal activity. We will work with our oversight partners, including other Federal OIGs, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee under the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), and GAO, to coordinate our work and address matters of interagency or cross-jurisdictional concern.
Our office recognizes that we are facing unprecedented times and reinforce our commitment to conferring with congressional and Agency leadership; issuing reports; and investigating waste, fraud, and abuse.
In addition to this webpage, a report capturing the EPA OIG’s COVID-19 pandemic work is available.
Potential Audit or Evaluation Topics
- Enforcement and regulatory waivers and flexibilities.
- Fraud schemes taking advantage of crisis by marketing unsafe and non-EPA-approved products to the public.
- Agency staffing shortfalls implicating oversight of critical environmental and public health programs.
- Agency return to work and employee health and safety upon re-entry.
- Maintaining strong cyber and IT protections while workforce teleworking.
Pandemic-Related Reports and Announced Projects
These specific OIG project notification memorandums are related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and inform EPA officials about the status of Office of Inspector General projects that may result in a full audit report. You can also view all of the project notification memorandums.
We take seriously our obligation to investigate fraud related to the coronavirus pandemic—that is, the SARS-CoV-2 virus and resultant COVID-19 disease. We are particularly committed to investigating fraud schemes involving criminal activity or misconduct that impact the American people or thwart the EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission, as well as investigating conduct that relies on, takes advantage of, or exploits a weakness or vulnerability in an EPA program or operation.
Different Types of Investigations that the OIG May Undertake
- Fraud schemes relating to the EPA’s programs and operations.
- Fraudulent claims for money that should be spent to advance an EPA program.
- Improper avoidance of obligations to pay as required by an EPA program.
- Misrepresentations of the EPA’s endorsement of products by fraudulently applying the Agency seal, identifier, or product registration numbers to product labels or advertisements.
- Cyberscams targeting EPA employees, as well as security threats to the EPA.
EPA OIG Hotline
Our office receives allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on EPA and CSB operations.
The EPA and public should be on the alert for some common practices:
- Beware of companies placing the EPA seal or an EPA registration number on their products claiming that they meet EPA standards.
- Be cautious of imported products marketed as proven to effectively block various epidemic viruses.
- Be on the lookout for websites claiming their products contain EPA-approved active ingredients that kill 99.9 percent of all viruses and bacteria, including SAR-CoV-2 virus. These companies may put the EPA logo on their websites to falsely legitimize products. For a list of EPA-approved disinfectants, please visit EPA Official List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2.
- Be wary of companies claiming that their services are endorsed or their equipment or material is certified by the EPA.
What is the EPA OIG?
OIG Independence of EPA
The EPA's Office of Inspector General is a part of the EPA, although Congress provides our funding separate from the agency, to ensure our independence. We were created pursuant to the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended.
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