GSA official apologizes as audit finds Bannister agency misled sick workers and investigators
7:37 PM, Nov 8, 2010
7:51 PM, Nov 8, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Missouri - An Inspector General audit found officials at the Bannister
Federal Complex operated a failed environmental program and misled
workers and federal investigators about health concerns and
The General Services Administration’s Inspector General
substantiated much of the evidence uncovered by an NBC Action News
investigation launched in November 2009.
Officials initially denied knowledge of a list of sick and dead
workers and accused NBC Action News of taking information out of
“I do apologize on behalf of GSA,” said GSA Regional
Administrator Jason Klumb at a news conference Monday. “We
have learned some lessons and we are getting things right."
The audit found the GSA operated a weak environmental program
that was incapable of determining whether conditions prior to 2010
“The problematic actions by the region indicate a lax
environmental management program,” the audit found. “As
a result, GSA cannot provide assurance that the Complex has
historically been a safe and healthy workplace.”
The report indicates shortly after NBC Action News uncovered
the health concerns and toxins at the facility, the GSA methods
improved enough to determine current conditions pose no threat.
The Inspector General also determined officials had
received, but largely ignored, a list of 90 sick or dead workers
that employees compiled.
“The draft letter was not provided to the Acting Regional
Administrator and no work on this issue was performed by the safety
and environmental personnel until January 2010, after the
environmental conditions at the Complex became the focus of media
reports,” the IG report said.
The GSA denied knowledge of the list when NBC Action News
confronted officials a year ago.
The NBC Action News investigation has since tallied more
than 400 sick or dead workers.
About half work on the Honeywell side of the building where
employees make parts for nuclear bombs.
Reaction from Capitol Hill was swift and harsh.
“This report should serve as an immediate wakeup call for
the GSA,” said Senator Kit Bond (R-Missouri) in a statement.
“The bureaucrats who mishandled information and failed to
perform adequate safety tests as documented in the IG’s
report should be held accountable.”
Bond demanded in Inspector General’s investigation when
NBC Action News uncovered internal GSA documents contradicting the
agency’s claims that it didn’t know of a list of sick
and dead workers.
“I am greatly concerned by the report’s conclusions
that employees’ concerns were not taken seriously,”
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri) said in a statement.
“All of those faults are completely and utterly
“Our review indicates that, not only did PBS environmental
personnel fail to quickly take action and respond to concerns, they
did not inform regional GSA management that these concerns were
raised,” the audit stated.
The GSA’s regional administrator, who arrived after
the NBC Action News investigation began, says sanctions of staff
“Individuals have offered their resignations to me,”
said Klumb. I will not accept those. This is my
The audit accuses the GSA of not only misleading employees, but
of providing misleading information to federal investigators.
“(GSA) often provided erroneous and/or incomplete
information to both the public and our office concerning
environmental issues at the Complex,” the audit
“The people who have worked at Bannister have a right to
be angry,” said Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) in a
statement. “This IG report shows serious misjudgment on the
part of the federal government, and I’ve spoken with the
Public Buildings Commissioner at GSA about it.”
National GSA Administrator Martha Johnson has not responded to
NBC Action News requests for comment. She has not spoken
publically about the growing list of sick workers or health
concerns at the facility.