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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY
5000 OVERLOOK AVENUE, S. W., WASHINGTON, D. C. 20032
March 4, 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Pat Wheeler
Interim Public Affairs Director
WASA BOARD RETAINS LAW FIRM TO REVIEW MANAGEMENT OF ELEVATED LEAD LEVELS IN WATER
(Washington, DC) The Board of Directors of the District
of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) today announced that it has
retained a law firm and two distinguished academic experts to
investigate WASA's management of elevated lead level sampling and
notification. The investigation will be conducted by Covington &
Burling, an internationally recognized law firm headquartered in
Washington, DC. Heading the investigation is Covington partner Eric H.
Holder, Jr., the former U. S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and
former Deputy Attorney General of the United States, the number two
position in the U. S. Department of Justice.
The investigation will examine WASA's actions regarding
elevated levels of lead in the District water supply and will include a
review of WASA's compliance with all applicable laws; how the board and
management team executed their duties and responsibilities; and whether
WASA's communications and interaction with the Environmental Protection
Agency, the D. C. Department of Health, its customers, and other
external organizations were appropriate. The investigation is expected
to be completed and results published in 60 days. The investigation was
approved at today's meeting of the 11-member board of directors of WASA,
which has representatives from the District of Columbia, Montgomery
County, Prince George's County and Fairfax County.
"While I believe the WASA board and management have
at all times fully complied with the law on this point, it is important
to have an independent investigation of the issues, We want to put to
rest any questions the public may have, and to restore public confidence
in WASA," said Glenn S. Gerstell, Chairman of the WASA Board.
"We believe the best way to do this is to engage someone of Mr,
Holder's experience and integrity to investigate this issue. Mr. Holder
will have free reign and we are looking forward to his report and
"We want this review to focus not only on the legal
issues, but also the entire scope of WASA's responsibilities. Therefore,
the Board has arranged for two distinguished experts in the field of
public administration and public health to assist the law firm,"
said Gerstell. "I am pleased that Kathryn Newcomer, Director of the
School of Public Policy and Administration, George Washington
University, and a highly regarded authority on governmental issues, and
Dr. Lynn R. Goldman, a pediatrician and epidemiologist at the Johns
Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, will aid in the
investigation. Their expertise will help insure the review is thorough
and looks at the issues of government agency cooperation and public
health dimension at all levels."
"Covington & Burling are undertaking this investigation at a
substantial discount recognizing the public service aspects of this
assignment," Gerstell added. Covington does not do business with
WASA and they have conducted a conflict of interest search to make sure
there will be no appearance of any conflicts.
"I welcome this investigation," said jerry Johnson, WASA
General Manager. "We believe we have acted responsibly with our
customers, honestly with the federal agencies that regulate us, and
openly with local government agencies. I, too, look forward to Mr.
Holder's findings and believe that facts will overcome fear."
Biographies of Mr. Holder and Professors Newcomer and Goldman are
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Eric H. Holder, Jr. is a litigation partner at the law firm of
Covington & Burling who handles, among other matters, internal
corporate investigations, complex civil and criminal cases, and domestic
and international advisory matters.
During his professional career, Mr. Holder has held a number of
significant positions in government. Upon graduating from Columbia Law
School, he moved to Washington, D.C. and joined the Department of
Justice as part of the Attorney General's Honors Program. He was
assigned to the newly formed Integrity Section in 1976 and was tasked to
investigate and prosecute official corruption on the local, state and
federal levels. While at the Public Integrity Section, Mr. Holder
participated in a number of prosecutions and appeals involving such
defendants as the Treasurer of the state of Florida, the Ambassador to
the Dominican Republic, a local judge in Philadelphia, an Assistant
United States Attorney in New York City, agents of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation and a "capo" in an organized crime family in
In 1993, President Clinton nominated Mr. Holder to become the United
States Attorney for the District of Columbia. He was confirmed later
that year and served as the head of the largest United States Attorneys
office in the nation for nearly four years. He was the first black
person to serve in that position. As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Holder created a
Domestic Violence Unit to more efficiently handle those types of tragic
cases, implemented a community prosecution project to work hand in hand
with residents and local government agencies in order to make
neighborhoods safer, supported a renewed enforcement emphasis on hate
crimes so that criminal acts of intolerance would be severely punished,
developed a comprehensive strategy to improve the manner in which
agencies handled crimes involving the abuses of children, launched a
community outreach program to reconnect the U.S. Attorney's office with
the citizens it serves, revitalized the Victim/Witness Assistance
Program to better serve those individuals who were directly affected by
crime and developed "Operation Ceasefire", an initiative
designed to reduce violent crime by getting guns out the hands of
In 1997, President Clinton appointed Mr. Holder to serve as Deputy
Attorney General, the number two position in the United States
Department of Justice. He became the first African-American to serve as
Deputy Attorney General. Mr. Holder briefly served under President Bush
as Acting Attorney General pending the confirmation of Attorney General
As Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Holder supervised all of the
Department's litigating, enforcement, and administrative components in
both civil and criminal matters. Under his guidance, the Department
developed and issued its guidelines on the criminal prosecution of
corporation (the so-called "Holder Memorandum") and issued
guidelines on the use of hte False Claims Act in civil health care
matters. A task force he created also developed the existing regulation
concerning the appointment of special counsels to investigate
allegations involving high-level federal officials. he began the
Department's Children Exposed to Violence Initiative and made Department
priorities enforcement efforts in health care fraud, computer crimes and
software piracy. Mr. Holder successfully worked to fund and expand
nationwide the concept of community prosecution which seeks to connect
more directly prosecutors with the citizens they serve. At the request
of the President, Mr. Holder began and directed Lawyers for One America,
a multi-agency, public/private partnership designed to diversify the
legal profession and to increase the amount of pro bono work done by the
nation's attorneys. As Deputy Attorney General Mr. Holder was at that time the highest-ranking black person
in law enforcement in the history of the United States.
Mr. Holder's community activities include service on a
number of philanthropic boards including the Meyer Foundation, the See
Forever Foundation, and his long time membership in the organization
Concerned Black Men, a group that seeks to help the youth of the
District of Columbia with problems ranging from teenage pregnancy to
sub-par academic achievement. He has received numerous awards and
honorary degrees. He also serves on the board of MCI. Mr. Holder was a
member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission Ad Hoc Advisory Group that
examined, and made recommendations to revise, the organizational
sentencing guidelines and was Chairman of Eastman Kodak's External
Diversity Advisory Panel.
Mr. Holder was bom in New York City. He attended public
schools there, graduating from Stuyvesant High School where he earned a
Regents Scholarship. He attended Columbia College and graduated in 1973.
Mr. Holder then attended Columbia Law School from which he graduated in
1976. While in law school, he clerked at the N.A-A.C.P. Legal Defense
Fund and the Department of Justice's Criminal Division. Mr. Holder lives
in Washington, D.C. with his wife and their three children.
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The Honorable Lynn R. Goldman, a pediatrician and an
epidemiologist, is a Professor at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg
School of Public Health, where her areas of focus are children's
environmental health, public health practice, and chemical and pesticide
regulatory policy. Her appointment is in the Department of Environmental
Health Sciences with joint appointments in the Departments of
Epidemiology and Health Policy and Management.
In 1993, Dr. Goldman was appointed by the President and
confirmed by the Senate to serve as Assistant Administrator (AA) for
Toxic Substances at the US Environmental Protection Agency, where she
directed the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances (OPPTS)
from 1993 through 1998. As AA for OPPTS she was responsible for the
nation's pesticide, toxic substances and pollution prevention laws.
Under her watch, EPA expanded right-to-know under the Toxics Release
Inventory and overhauled the nation's pesticides laws. Dr. Goldman made
significant progress on the issues of testing of high volume industrial
chemicals and identification of chemicals that disrupt endocrine
systems. At EPA she was successful in promoting children's health issues
and furthering the international agenda for global chemical safety.
Prior to joining the EPA, Dr. Goldman served in several
positions at the California Department of Health Services, most recently
as head of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease
Control. She has conducted public health investigations on pesticides,
childhood lead poisoning and other environmental hazards. She has a BS
in Conservation of Natural Resources from the University of California,
Berkeley, an MPH from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public
Health, and an MD from the University of California, San Francisco. She
completed pediatric training at Children's Hospital, Oakland,
Dr. Goldman has served on numerous boards and expert
committees, and has published in the areas of environmental health and
environmental health policy.
Back to top of page
Kathryn Newcomer is Director of the School of Public
Policy and Public Administration of Public Administration at the George
Washington University where she teaches public and nonprofit program
evaluation, research design, and applied statistics. She conducts
research and training for federal and local government agencies on
performance measurement and program evaluation, and has consulted the
governments of the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and Brazil on performance
auditing. And she has conducted evaluations for many public agencies
including the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and
Dr. Newcomer has published four books, Improving
Government Performance (1989), The Handbook of Practical Program
Evaluation (1994, 2003), and Using Performance Measurement to Improve
Public and Nonprofit Programs (1997), Meeting the Challenge of
Performance Oriented-Government (2002), and numerous articles in
journals including the Public Administration Review.. She is a Fellow of
the National Academy of Public Administration.
Dr. Newcomer has won two awards for her teaching; in 1996
she was awarded the Peter Vail Excellence in Education Award and in May
2000 she received the George Washington Award. She has received
Fulbright awards in 1993 (Taiwan) and in 2001-2003 (Egypt).
Dr. Newcomer earned a B.S. in education and an M.A, in
political science from the University of Kansas, and her Ph.D. in
political science from the University of Iowa.