27 September, 2017
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt doesn't like to make public his appointment calendar, and to ensure his phone conversations remain private as well, the EPA is spending close to $25,000 to install a soundproof communications booth in his office.
The Washington Post reported, citing a contract the agency signed with Acoustical Solutions, LLC, that the EPA agreed to pay almost $25,000 for a "privacy booth for the administrator", scheduled to be completed October 9, 2017. But the EPA sought a customized version - one that eventually would cost nearly several times more than a typical model - that Pruitt can use to communicate without fear of being monitored.
Steve Snider, a sales consultant with Acoustical Solutions, told the Washington Post that the EPA "had a lot of modifications" in its request.
The spokeswoman noted that other federal agencies also have similar rooms, though it was not clear what is wrong with the current SCIF.
But according to former agency employees, the EPA has long maintained a SCIF on a separate floor from the administrator's office, where officials with proper clearances can go to share information classified as secret.
It was also not immediately clear if the rooms were in the agency heads' offices.
In addition, Pruitt has a 24/7 security detail, involving 18 law enforcement officers, in contrast with his predecessors, who only had security details when working and in transit.
"While the price tag for Pruitt's phone booth should outrage every taxpayer, it's who he's speaking with and what they're plotting that should be the most concerning to the American people", said Cook.