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Cummings Releases IG Report on FEMA Administrator’s Improper Use of Government Vehicles

Sep 26, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Sept. 26, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released a Report of Investigation issued by the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security regarding FEMA Administrator Brock Long’s improper use of government vehicles for personal travel.

“The FEMA Administrator is supposed to be focused on preparing for disasters like the devastating hurricanes that killed thousands of Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands—not using government vehicles to shuttle his family around Hawaii at taxpayer expense,” Ranking Member Cummings said.  “Administrator Long’s apparent violations of federal law for his own personal benefit are another example of how senior officials in the Trump Administration continue to use American taxpayer money to bankroll their lavish lifestyles.  Even more concerning are his efforts to mislead investigators after he was caught.  Based on this report, I request an immediate briefing from FEMA on how they plan to claw back the $151,000 that Administrator Long owes the American people.”

Cummings asked the Inspector General to prepare a version of the report that could be released to the public.  The report found that Long and his family used government vehicles for personal use from June 2017 through April 2018, despite the fact that he was informed in October 2017 that using government vehicles for home to work travel was prohibited.  The report also found that Long and his staff attempted to hide the fact that he was not complying with the law.  Below are highlights from the report: 

  • This investigation was initiated based upon receipt of a complaint that William “Brock” Long, Administrator, FEMA, Washington, DC, while not on official business, was a passenger in a U.S. Government vehicle (GOV) involved in an accident in North Carolina.  The complainant further alleged that FEMA personnel attempted to hide Long's presence when the accident occurred by intentionally omitting him from the traffic accident report.

 

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), found evidence that Long used GOVs and FEMA personnel for home to work (HTW) transportation that he was not authorized.  The unauthorized use of resources occurred in both Washington, DC where Long has an apartment and in Hickory, NC where his family resides.  Additional instances of unauthorized HTW support occurred when Long and his family were transported to and from Hickory, NC to Charlotte, NC for a trip to Hawaii.

 

  • The DHS OIG found that Long’s unauthorized use of HTW transportation resulted in the following approximate costs to the U.S. Government: $94,000 in salary costs; $55,000 in travel expenditures; and approximately $2,000 in GOV operations and maintenance related costs.

 

  • [unidentified source]  stated he provided this transportation support to Long and his family in Hawaii during both the official portion of the trip and during the family vacation.  During the vacation portion of the trip, [unidentified source] stated he transported the family to a Dole plantation and a volcano.

 

  • [unidentified source] stated FEMA OCC researched HTW authorization and determined Long could obtain temporary authorization when the NRCC was activated, but would need approval from the DHS Secretary and Long would incur a tax liability as this type of support would be considered a fringe benefit. ... [unidentified source] stated he informed Long in October [2017] that this [HTW] support was not authorized.

 

  • The DHS OIG interviewed Long who stated he was aware that the FEMA OCC did not feel that it was appropriate for him to have HTW transportation both in Washington, DC, and in Hickory, NC.

 

  • [unidentified source] stated he briefed Long concerning the research and Long told him he would use the Metro in Washington, DC as he could not afford the additional tax burden.

 

  • In the timeframe reviewed by the DHS OIG, Long took at least nine official trips that either began or ended in Charlotte, NC or had a two-day stopover at that location.  These stopovers often spanned the length of the weekend and resulted in an additional 15 TDY trips by OAEST personnel to North Carolina to provide Long transportation during these stopovers.

 

  • [unidentified source] stated he was not coerced into providing transportation for the family, but felt he could not tell Long that his spouse could not ride in the vehicle with him.

 

  • [unidentified source] stated that as [redacted title], he told Long that the arrangement made it appear he used the trappings of his office and misused his government position.

 

  • Long initially stated he did not use the OAEST vehicles for personal use, but later admitted that on March 25, 2018, an OAEST vehicle provided him and his wife and two children transportation from his Hickory, NC, residence to CLT for a flight to Hawaii.

 

  • Long stated he recalled seeing a draft memorandum from FEMA to DHS requesting HTW transportation authorization on a temporary basis, for a 15 day period, during NRCC activation, but when he was informed that the cost of the HTW transportation would be a taxable benefit, he told his staff not to submit the request. ... Long later denied he told his staff not to submit the request for a HTW exception, but also stated he “is going broke and in the hole every month.” 

Click here to read the full report.

115th Congress