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EPA to Change the Way It Monitors Contractors


WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency, under pressure from Congress, promised Wednesday to reform its management of outside contractors--a decision that already has resulted in the phase-out of a deal that could have been worth $347 million to El Segundo-based Computer Sciences Corp.

Christian Holmes, an assistant administrator for the EPA, said the reforms will change the way the agency's 4,000 project and contract officers manage its 744 contracts and 27,000 work assignments.

Earlier this year, the EPA's inspector general identified more than $13 million in questionable payments to Computer Sciences, whose five-year information management project made it the EPA's largest single contractor. Among the outlays that investigators challenged were $2 million in payments to company personnel to perform tasks for which they were deemed unqualified.

In their announcement Wednesday, EPA officials said the agency will not exercise its option to extend the CSC contract to the fourth and fifth years. They also said that waivers granted to 90 CSC employees whose educational backgrounds failed to meet EPA requirements are being withdrawn, and a $10-million CSC contract to manage particularly sensitive agency data has been canceled.

CSC said the EPA's action would have "no material financial effect" on the company. The company noted that it has not been accused of wrongdoing and that it remains eligible to bid on EPA and other government contracts.

On Capitol Hill, critics characterized the agency's reform plans as an effort at damage control.

"It has taken 3 1/2 years for the EPA leadership to realize that its multibillion-dollar contracting program was in a shambles," said Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight and investigations subcommittee.

Staff writer Jonathan Weber contributed to this report.

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