EPA chief asked to delay restructuring ombudsman's office

Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., is asking Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Todd Whitman to delay a transfer and restructuring of EPA's ombudsman until Congress reviews the decision.

In March, Allard and Idaho GOP Sens. Larry Craig and Mike Crapo introduced legislation to make the Office of the Ombudsman independent. However, Whitman plans to officially move the ombudsman, Robert Martin, into the EPA inspector general's office next week. The change had been recommended in a General Accounting Office report.

Allard is concerned the change will cost the ombudsman his independence, which is key to his job.

On Tuesday, Allard wrote Whitman to reiterate the request. In addition to the letter, Allard also talked with Whitman over the phone last week seeking the delay.

Meanwhile, Martin Thursday filed a lawsuit to prevent the reshuffling of his office, saying it would weaken his independence within the agency, the Associated Press reported. The watchdog group Government Accountability Project joined Martin in the lawsuit.

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