An IG audit has questioned the EPA’s practice of subsidizing employee parking at its headquarters and its regional office in Atlanta, finding that more than a quarter of the spaces at each went unused and subtly pointing out the irony in the government’s chief environmental agency in effect encouraging its employees to drive to work rather than take public transit.

The two offices together paid some $1.5 million over 2015-2016, of which $690,000 went for spaces that were unused, a report added, saying that none of the agency’s other regions provide that subsidy. Almost all of that cost was attributable to spaces at headquarters.

“EPA staff stated that federal laws allowed the agency to provide parking subsidies to employees. However, Executive Order 13693 touts federal air quality goals, and no law requires subsidized parking to be a mandatory employee benefit. Consequently, the EPA was using valuable resources to subsidize employee parking when the funds could be put to better use in mission-critical programs,” it said.

“In addition, Office of Management and Budget Memorandum M-17-22 directs agencies to examine the total cost of their personnel–including employee-related costs such as salary, benefits, employee services and office expenses–to achieve workforce reductions and cost savings,” the audit said.

It said that in response to the draft report, the EPA stopped paying the parking subsidy for headquarters employees as of October 1, and that the Atlanta region earlier stopped offering subsidies, excepting several employees with disabilities.