Wherever there is government, there is the likelihood of conflicts of interest.
Given the enormous sums of money that are at stake, it would be a shock if this were not the case. Rooting out such conflicts must be a continuous process.
In that regard, it is heartening to learn that President Trump’s EPA has just removed the potential for $77 million of agency funds to be held hostage to conflicts of interest. Recall that the EPA is at the center of the highly politicized debate over climate science and other environmental issues. It was during the Obama administration that these conflicts within the EPA reached a nadir, as those on EPA advisory boards were also able to receive EPA grants, almost guaranteeing conflicts of interest.
The EPA director has ruled that individuals can either be on EPA advisory boards or apply for and receive grants, but not both. That this action had to be taken, and that such is news, illustrates the gross irresponsibility that prevailed during Mr. Obama’s tenure as president.
“Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt issued a new directive on Tuesday that will end the conflict of interest from agency science advisers who receive EPA grant money.
“EPA administrator Pruitt said, ‘Whatever science comes out of EPA, shouldn’t be political science. From this day forward, EPA advisory committee members will be financially independent from the Agency.'”
This is the issue, isn’t it? While Mr. Obama was president, favored advisors could be appointed to specific committees, make recommendations in their best interest and which advanced the administration’s environmental agenda, and then receive payments in the form of government grants. As they say, it’s nice work if you can get it.
And here were the results: “The EPA calculates that over 20 members of three of EPA’s 22 FACs, including the Science Advisory Board (SAB), Clean Air Scientific Committee (CASAC), and the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), received over $77 million in direct EPA grant funding while serving on these committees.”
The gravy train has ended.
“‘You have to choose either grant or serve on the board. You can’t do both,’ declared Pruitt.”
It should never have been any other way.
The next stop should be addressing such conflicts of interest across all government agencies.