Thursday, July 31, 2008

VICTORY: EPA to Reopen Libraries

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 and 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.

This is good news!! EPA's network of libraries are a vital information source for the public and for EPA staff. Much of the material in the collections is elsewhere. Many EPA scientists had been very vocal about how the library closings would hamper their ability to protect the public and the environment.

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.


Blogger João Soares said...

Dear Sirs
Fabulous work here. Another great step to forward a net more organic between justice, power and ecology to a more sustainable nations and global act.
I add you to my Dossier Legislaçaõ e Direito do Ambiente
Best regards

8/19/2008 1:18 PM  

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