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DC Water and Sewer Authority
WASA Board Retains Law Firm to Review Management of Elevated Lead Levels in Water
Press release

March 4, 2004




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Press release Biography of Eric Holder
Biography of Lynn Goldman Biography of Kathryn Newcomer


March 4, 2004


Contact:   Pat Wheeler
Interim Public Affairs Director 


(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 recommendations."

"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 attached.

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Eric H. Holder, Jr.

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 Pennsylvania. 

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 criminals. 

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 John Ashcroft. 

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 

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, California,

Dr. Goldman has served on numerous boards and expert committees, and has published in the areas of environmental health and environmental health policy.

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Kathryn Newcomer 

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 Transportation.

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.

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