E.P.A. to Spend Nearly $25,000 on a Soundproof Booth for Pruitt


Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, at the White House in June.

Al Drago/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has signed a contract for nearly $25,000 to build a soundproof communications booth for the office of the administrator, Scott Pruitt.

The contract, with Acoustical Solutions in Richmond, Va., was first reported by the Washington Post. It calls for the construction of a $24,570 “privacy booth” for Mr. Pruitt’s office.

Liz Bowman, a spokeswoman for the E.P.A., did not return requests for comment on the contract. In a statement to the Post, she said agencies needed to have such booths to guard against hacking and eavesdropping. “This is something which a number, if not all, Cabinet offices have and E.P.A. needs to have updated,” she said.

Critics say Mr. Pruitt has gone to unusual lengths to operate in secrecy at the E.P.A., where employees report he is often accompanied by armed guards even inside the agency, and avoids making important calls in his office. He is the first E.P.A. administrator to have round-the-clock security.

Steve Snider, a salesman at Acoustical Solutions who handled the E.P.A. contract, said privacy booths are typically used to conduct hearing tests and cost between $5,000 and $6,000. He said the E.P.A. had requested significant modifications that ultimately required them to have the booth custom-ordered through the manufacturer.

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