Workers turned EPA warehouse in Maryland into personal rec rooms, audit finds
Workers at a huge Environmental Protection Agency warehouse in Landover, Md., turned parts of the building into their own personal rec rooms, complete with gym equipment, televisions, microwave ovens and piped-in music, according to a report from the agency’s inspector general.
Employees of the contractor who ran the 70,000-square-foot warehouse – used to store inventory for EPA buildings – set up “multiple unauthorized and hidden personal spaces” that included “televisions, refrigerators, radios, microwaves, chairs and couches,” according to the report. The gym area had equipment arranged in a 30- by-45-foot space with carpet tiles and music that was provided “through other agency inventory items.”
They decorated the spaces with “personal items, including photos, pin-ups and calendars” and stored “clothing, books, magazines and videos.” The workers set up partitions or piled-up boxes to keep the spaces out of the sight of security cameras.
“Our initial research at the EPA’s Landover warehouse raised significant concerns with the lack of agency oversight of personal property and warehouse space at the facility,” according to Arthur Elkins’s audit, called an “early warning report.”
“EPA management confirmed they had not visited the warehouse before the Office of Inspector General briefed the agency over concerns with poor oversight of the storage facility.”
The building is owned by the General Services Administration but operated by a contractor, Apex Logistics, under a $750,000 annual contract signed in 2007. After learning of the setup from the inspector general, on May 15, the EPA issued an immediate stop-work order to Apex Logistics, according to the report, which is dated Friday.
The rec rooms weren’t the only problems the audit identified. “Personally identifiable information and agency-sensitive files – such as passports and legal files – were located in unsecured open boxes throughout the warehouse,” the report said. Auditors also found “a locked office inside the facility for which we could not determine a purpose.”