After much sturm and drang, including a scathing GAO report
, withering criticism from Congress, the public (including yours truly
) and objections from its own employees, EPA recently inked an MOA
with the American Federation of Government Employees to reopen all the libraries EPA shuttered in 2006. I previously blogged about this issue here
The libraries to be reopened included the libraries in three regional offices and the specialized Chemical Library at EPA's Washington, DC, headquarters. EPA will also restore operating hours and public access that had been slashed at several other libraries.
The ostensible purpose behind the library closures was cost reduction, but this claim was, at best, illusory--the agency's own studies
showed that every $1.00 spent, its library network provided between $2.00 and $5.70 worth of benefits. (primarily through increased efficiency from EPA staff that did not have to spend needless hours tracking down or recreating technical documents.)
In a week in which EPA's gag order
surfaced, directing its staff “not respond to questions or make any statements” if contacted by congressional investigators (GAO), reporters or EPA's own internal Office of Inspector General, this is a welcome victory for transparency and public accountability.
Too bad EPA can't buy back the $50,000 worth of Region 6 library fixtures and furniture sold through a hasty General Services Administration (GSA) auction
for less than $350.