Months after House Republicans learned the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) sponsored “ecogrief” sessions for federal employees, lawmakers on Capitol Hill discovered the agency is hiring outside consultants for “social change” initiatives.
In a letter to FWS last week, lawmakers expanded their inquiry into agency misuse of American tax dollars with questions about contractors hired to implement campaigns that go beyond the scope of FWS’s mission.
“After sending the Ecogrief Letter, the Committee received additional reports of the Service hiring outside consultants at taxpayer expense for various trainings, workshops, and projects in related topic areas,” wrote Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., with Paul Gosar, R-Ariz, who chairs the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
“The Service purportedly utilizes the expertise of outside consultants to institute ‘social change’ initiatives, including but not limited to, programs on social justice; environmental justice; eco-grief; diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (‘DEIA’); and justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (‘JEDIA’).”
In a March letter to lawmakers on the House Natural Resources Committee reviewed by The Federalist, FWS downplayed the amount of resources it had dedicated to ecogrief seminars.
“The workshops were conducted by outside consultants, approved on a case-by-case basis by leadership in the Service’s regional offices and supported through base funds set aside for general employee training and development,” FWS Director Martha Williams wrote. “Since 2021, the Service’s offices offered their employees access to six such workshops, with a total cost of $11,600.”
FWS did not answer The Federalist’s question about whether the agency also calculated the cost of employees’ salaries for the time wasted on the sessions, nor did it have an answer to The Federalist’s question about the identity of the consultants or who chose to hire them.
“The Service is in receipt of the committee’s request, and we are working on our response,” said an FWS spokesman in a statement to The Federalist.
Westerman and Gosar are looking for the same answers related to the agency’s hiring of outside consultants to facilitate so-called social justice movements. In their letter last week, the pair referenced a recent Justice Department inspector general investigation of consultants hired by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA landed in hot water last month after the federal watchdog found that contracts were improperly awarded excessive compensation.
“The allegations of impropriety at the DEA and your recent statements regarding the use of ‘outside consultants’ at the Service has prompted the Committee to review the Service’s spending activity on outside consultants and organizations,” lawmakers wrote.
After news of FWS sessions on ecogrief sessions surfaced in February, Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyo., who serves on the Natural Resources Committee, threatened to restrict federal spending on such activism through the appropriations process. The workshops, Hageman told The Federalist, would be “specifically addressed,” whether by appropriations or some other legislative remedy.