Following the EPA’s discovery of multiple noncompliance circumstances regarding grants awarded between 2019 and 2021, the Office of the Inspector General reported the said instances must be fixed, especially with nine agency programs receiving an “unprecedented” amount of grant funds under last year’s infrastructure law.

Environmental & Natural Resources partner and former EPA air office leader under the Trump administration, Anne Austin, agreed that “more can be done on the education side when it comes to working with grant recipients on their reporting and compliance obligations.”

However, Austin further said the EPA must find middle ground between granting money at a faster pace while also ensuring the funds are utilized appropriately.

“If you wanted to double and triple check every one of those grant applications, it takes a long time and it’s very resource intensive,” Austin said. “Are you comfortable with the old adage, ‘Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good?’ If you’re OIG, they want protection, understandably so. But is that practical or realistic?”

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