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About the Office of Investigations

The Office of Investigations conducts the criminal and administrative investigations of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General. These investigations look for violations of the law and involve such areas as financial fraud, employee misconduct, intrusion of EPA systems and computers, impersonation of EPA officials, and theft of EPA property and funds. The Office of Investigations refers its findings either to the Department of Justice for prosecution or to EPA management for action.
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We contribute to the mission of the EPA’s Office of Inspector General by conducting independent investigations into allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse of EPA and U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board operations, grants, and contracts.
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Uphold a tradition of excellence by having a dedicated, highly trained, and diverse workforce that promotes professionalism in support of our programs and activities.

Investigative Priorities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General established investigative priorities that focus its core mission in investigating fraud impacting EPA and CSB programs and operations. In 2019, the EPA OIG reset its priorities to target areas that will have the greatest return on investment, to include grant and contract fraud, laboratory fraud, employee misconduct and integrity issues, and cybercrimes.

Grant Fraud: Grant fraud investigations focus on criminal activities related to EPA grants; state revolving funds; interagency agreements; and cooperative agreements that provide assistance to state, local, and tribal governments, as well as universities and nonprofit recipients. This type of fraud generally occurs when the grant recipient attempts to deceive the EPA when applying for grant funds or when detailing how the grant funds were spent.

Contract Fraud: Contract fraud investigations focus on criminal activities related to EPA and CSB contracts that involve fraud or other misconduct. Contract fraud occurs when there is a deliberate deception to secure or attempt to secure an unfair gain. Contract or procurement fraud typically occurs when a government employee or contractor knowingly and willfully receives an inappropriate payment from the government by means of deception or misrepresentation in connection with an award.

Financial Fraud (Grants and Contracts): These investigations may involve multiple agencies and focus on criminal activities related to Agency grants, state revolving funds, interagency agreements, or assistance agreements that provide financial support to state, local, and tribal governments; universities; and nonprofit recipients.

Laboratory Fraud: These investigations address laboratory fraud, including that such fraud related to water quality and the Superfund, as well as payments made by the EPA for erroneous environmental testing data. Such activities could undermine the basis for EPA decision-making, regulatory compliance, and enforcement actions.

Program Fraud: These investigations focus on activities that could undermine the integrity of Agency programs and erode the public trust in the EPA and its employees. These investigations focus on serious misconduct or fraudulent activity that relies on, takes advantage of, or exploits systematic weaknesses or vulnerabilities of the Agency for personal gain. Examples of program fraud includes program participants submitting false statements to an EPA program; individuals misrepresenting themselves as EPA employees; or the fraudulent use of EPA certifications or the seal, logo, or registration numbers.

Employee Misconduct and Integrity Issues: The Office of Investigations investigates serious employee misconduct that may result in state or federal criminal charges or administrative discipline, including suspension or termination. These investigations address a wide range of violations involving EPA and CSB employees, such as time-and-attendance fraud, misuse of government property or funds, conflicts of interest, ethics violations, travel or purchase card fraud, or other prohibited actions. These investigations may also include financial fraud, such as public corruption or kickbacks, that does not directly cause a loss to the EPA or CSB but can harm the public’s trust in the EPA or CSB and its programs.

Cybercrime: These investigations identify and counter information technology security threats, illegal intrusions, and abuse of EPA or CSB computer systems (for example, hacking, unauthorized access, software piracy, significant misuse, data theft, and destruction or alteration). Additionally, cybercrime investigations include investigation and response in support of possible intrusion, terrorist, and ransomware attacks on computer infrastructure within the oversight responsibility of the EPA and CSB, including intrusions on water, wastewater, and air monitoring infrastructure which directly risk public health. The Office of Investigation’s Electronic Crimes Division is uniquely charged as the sole investigative component within the EPA responsible for cybercrime and intrusion investigation.