Federal agencies Leadership

‘Dysfunctional’ CSB not fulfilling mission, critics say

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Washington – Intimidation and mismanagement at the Chemical Safety Board have destroyed staff morale and distracted the agency from its core mission of investigating and preventing chemical incidents, according to a bipartisan group of politicians.

The allegations have prompted both the Republican chairman and the Democratic ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to call for CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso to resign before his term expires in June.

The allegations include Moure-Eraso and other CSB leadership exchanging work-related emails on private, non-government accounts; Moure-Eraso and board member Manuel Ehrlich rushing a vote to expand the chairman’s power; and the demotion of an employee who served as the contracting officer for a firm that produced an unflattering survey for CSB.

During a hearing on March 4, Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) pointed at Moure-Eraso as he spoke.

“Until you leave this organization, these problems are going to persist,” Chaffetz said. “There is something rotten to its core, and it is you. … This is a dysfunctional, unfair and unproductive organization, and good people are suffering.”

As he has in the past, Moure-Eraso defended his work. He said CSB has completed eight major investigations in the past nine months.

“As my time as chairman comes to a close, we will be leaving behind a stronger agency,” Moure-Eraso said.

Few agreed.

Ranking committee member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said a recent survey by Vantage Human Resource Services exposed more problems. Eighty percent of CSB’s employees reported that they felt frustrated with top leadership, and 47 percent said senior leadership discouraged dissenting opinions.

“These allegations are appalling,” Cummings said. “They indicate that the CSB has gone off the rails.”