The Trump administration wants the General Services Administration (GSA) to take over a major federal agency and help “fix” its problems. Turns out, GSA can’t even fix its own buildings, according to internal documents and watchdog reports.
The Trump administration has plans to break up the Office of Personnel Management and split its functions among three agencies with most work shifting to GSA. At a congressional hearing on the issue May 21, Acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert touted GSA’s long history of servicing other agencies, managing fleets of vehicles and buildings for lease.
But according to multiple reports, what GSA also has is a long history of failure to address arsenic, lead, asbestos, and other cancer-causing chemicals at a federal complex that comprises 23 buildings and houses 2,000 employees from various agencies. For decades, employees working in this complex have raised concerns with GSA, only to be ignored.
GSA management has been on notice due to multiple reports from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Inspector General, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and its own privately contracted reports.
The latest IG report, released in March 2019, shows that GSA, which is responsible for the cleanup, failed to take action and simply ordered more reports or made limited corrections. Between 2002 and 2016, GSA conducted at least 33 studies. The highest levels of lead were found in the cafeteria, childcare center, and more than 10 buildings. Federal employees, contractors, and visitors were all exposed to the cancer-causing chemicals.
Adding insult to injury, GSA is retaliating against a whistleblower who wants nothing but a safe workplace for himself and his coworkers. According to the internal GSA report, GSA called him out by title stating he needs training to be a team player and not take issues outside the agency.
“And the Trump administration wants to move OPM to the agency that not only fails to do its job but also retaliates against whistleblowers in violation of the law,” noted AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. “We are calling on Congress to put pressure on GSA to clean up its act and the buildings.”