U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) officials left Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert perplexed and frustrated when they gave him documents to explain years of manipulation that were blank other than a “only for committee use” tag, Biz Pac Review reports.
“Are we supposed to play tic-tac-toe on this?” Gohmert asked Tuesday, while waving one of the documents during a hearing of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the data manipulation.
The USGS lab where two chemists skewed data for nearly two decades was finally closed in March 2016.
Gohmert’s subcommittee had requested the documents in September. The blanks received Tuesday represented only a small portion of the total sought by the panel.
“We’re still waiting for documents we requested three months ago,” Gohmert said. “Some of the documents we did receive were redacted, they were duplicates or were even blank pages.”
Gohmert flipped through the pages of one of the documents as he held it up, saying, “that page one, cover sheet. Page two, it’s blank. Page three, it’s blank. Page four … this page, like all these pages, it’s only for our committee use … It’s a blank piece of paper.”
“The federal government is being reduced to a joke, except it is so deadly serious.”
“Oh! We have a little bit on page eight. Again blank piece of paper on page nine,” Gohmert said.
He continued that way through page 11 of the document.
USGS deputy director William Werkheiser repeatedly refused to reveal the names of the chemists who manipulated the data and how they were punished throughout the hearing. He told subcommittee members he would pass along other information he didn’t have readily available.
“When you submit the additional information, please give us something besides blank pieces of paper,” Gohmert said. “We don’t want to have to bring up your names, one of those that has dishonored the committee” in later hearings.
Similarly, USGS has only produced a portion of the documents The Daily Caller News Foundation requested under the Freedom of Information Act nearly five months ago.
TheDCNF asked similar questions about the chemists’ names and punishment, but USGS officials refused to answer, citing privacy concerns.
TheDCNF and subcommittee investigations have revealed numerous details regarding the data manipulation, including USGS’s slow response to both incidents and the related program’s failure to undergo an external audit.
The manipulated data includes various energy-related topics, including coal reserves and uranium deposits. It’s unclear why the chemists manipulated the data.