About POGO

Mia Steinle, Investigator

Mia Steinle


msteinle@pogo.org |

Year Started At POGO: 2011

Areas of expertise: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection

Mia Steinle investigates issues related to the U.S. immigrant detention system. Her previous investigations at POGO uncovered wasteful spending at defense facilities, safety risks at nuclear labs, and legal loopholes that allowed coal companies to cheat U.S. taxpayers out of billions of dollars in potential revenue. She also previously participated in the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which helped to establish greater revenue transparency and accountability in the oil, gas and mining industries.

Before joining POGO, Mia was a researcher at the Investigative Reporting Workshop. Her writing has appeared in media outlets including Columbia Journalism Review, Huffington Post, and POLITICO, and she has been quoted as an expert in media outlets including Buzzfeed, Mother Jones, and The Nation. She graduated from American University with a B.A. in Journalism.

The Outsourced System Making Big Bucks off of “Zero Tolerance”

June 21, 2018

The Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy means some companies and organizations will make big money from detention.

13 CBP Employees Arrested for Corruption this Administration

April 23, 2018

Customs and Border Protection has a longstanding corruption problem, and the Trump Administration hasn’t been immune. At least 13 employees have been arrested for corruption during this Administration, bringing the total to 200 since 2004.

POGO Urges ICE and Border Patrol to Not Outsource Hiring Functions

March 13, 2018

POGO writes to highlight the potential negative impacts of the recent Customs and Border Protection (CBP) award for contractor support to hire thousands of new CBP employees and the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) solicitation for contractor support to hire thousands of new ICE employees.

Slave Labor Widespread at ICE Detention Centers, Lawyers Say

September 7, 2017

A growing body of legal experts says paying people in detention centers $1 per day to work violates minimum wage laws and the Constitution.

United States Expected to Fail International Transparency Test

May 18, 2017

The United States will likely fail to satisfy the requirements of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international standard for openness and accountability in natural resources extraction, according an inspection conducted by the Interior Department Office of Inspector General.

ICE’s Private Detention Centers Keep Data Under Lock and Key

May 3, 2017

Hundreds of thousands of people are held for varying amounts of time in America’s privately run detention centers every year. But good luck trying to piece together the sparse data that the federal government makes public about these private detention centers.

Administration Sounds Death Knell for Transparency Initiative

March 17, 2017

The Department of the Interior has halted U.S. efforts to seek validation by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global anti-corruption effort to bring openness and accountability to the oil, gas and mining sectors. As civil society members of the U.S. EITI, we are saddened and alarmed that the United States will no longer comply with the standard of a crucial transparency initiative that it has supported since 2003.

This Land is Our Land

September 23, 2016

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) raises this important issue in our latest podcast. POGO investigator Mia Steinle talks about the woefully outdated royalty programs for the mining and drilling of natural resources on public lands.

Drilling and Mining on Public Lands: The State of Play

September 22, 2016

The Project On Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense look back on the top natural resource reforms under the Obama Administration, while looking ahead to the work that still needs to be done.

Data on Oil, Gas, Mining Projects Often Incomplete, Missing or Inaccessible

November 20, 2014

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) undertook a survey of members of various communities across the country where extractive industry activities take place to help determine what level of granularity of government data on natural resources revenue would be useful to the public.

POGO and Allies Warn Secretary of Energy of Dangerous Plutonium Plan

November 1, 2012

The Department of Energy's proposal to transport plutonium bomb cores from New Mexico to California is unnecessarily dangerous and potentially unlawful. Forty-six groups, including the Project On Government Oversight, believe safer alternatives exist and must be examined.

Groups Urge Congress to Cut MOX Plutonium Fuel Program

March 19, 2012

Costs for the Department of Energy’s MOX program are increasing at an alarming rate. The estimated cost of MOX plant construction at the Savannah River Site has increased from $1.6 billion in FY2004 to the current $4.9 billion. The DOE’s FY2013 overall request for MOX and associated plutonium disposition programs is $887 million and the budget indicates a funding request of $3.6 billion from FY2014 to FY2017.

ICE Detention Center Inspections Repeatedly Fall Short

June 29, 2018

ICE inspections of detention centers are ineffective and infrequent, and “certain deficiencies remain unaddressed for years.”

Homeland Security Hiring Contracts May Be More Trouble Than They're Worth, Again

March 14, 2018

ICE and Border Patrol plan to pay private companies hundreds of millions of dollars to help the agencies hire new employees.

ICE is Giving Money Away Hand over Fist in Bizarre Contract

March 1, 2018

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is paying the city of Eloy, Arizona, half a million dollars a year for no good reason.

Homeland Security Watchdog Finds Government Abuse at Detention Centers

December 15, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General found that immigrant detainees were subject to inhumane and unhealthy conditions.

Homeland Security’s Top Watchdog Pulled Documents from its Website

November 8, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security removed from its website documents cataloging misconduct allegations against its employees but failed to inform the public why it did so.

Interior Department Says Laws Prevent Greater Transparency…but They’re Wrong

November 3, 2017

The United States is bowing out of an international transparency initiative aimed at reducing corruption in the oil, gas, and mining industries.

ICE Puts Detainees with Mental Illnesses “At Risk” in Solitary Confinement

October 4, 2017

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents may be putting immigrant detainees with mental illnesses at risk of harm by not reporting when they place these detainees in solitary confinement.

What’s the Best Way to Secure the Border?

April 12, 2017

The Senate and Department of Homeland Security agree the U.S. needs to secure its southern border. But a big question remains: how?

Senators Question Administration’s Reversal on Phasing out Private Prisons

April 5, 2017

Senators Chris Van Hollen and Cory Booker are questioning the Justice Department’s reversal of its decision to phase out private prisons.

Fossil Fuels Dodge the Law: What We’ve Done About it and What We Must Do

October 14, 2016

Dodd-Frank requires oil, gas, and coal companies to be more transparent; the Securities and Exchange Commission has finally implemented rules to enforce the law after years of effective resistance from the companies. Looking forward, Congress must also ensure that these companies restore our public lands by eliminating self-bonds.

Transparency Efforts Expand in Public Natural Resource Management

October 12, 2016

The United States joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in 2011, but it needs to continue prioritizing transparency, especially regarding natural gas. POGO recently published the top five public natural resource reforms accomplished in the past eight years and the top five recommendations for the current and future administration.

Taxpayers Closer to Getting Fair Return on Public Natural Resources

October 7, 2016

The troubled Royalty-In-Kind program, which benefitted corporations that were extracting resources from public lands, was successfully terminated. But the job’s not done: the Bureau of Land Management needs to prioritize getting taxpayers a fair return on the use of renewable energies on federal lands. POGO recently published the top five public natural resource reforms accomplished in the past eight years and the top five recommendations for the current and future administration.

Reining in Mineral Mismanagement on Public Lands

October 5, 2016

After the troubled Minerals Management Service was successfully dissolved in 2011, the fight to ensure taxpayers receive their fair share continues as good government groups like POGO argue that minerals on public lands should not be given away for free. POGO recently published the top five public natural resource reforms accomplished in the past eight years and the top five recommendations for the current and future administration.

Cleaning Up Coal's Act

October 3, 2016

While the Interior Department successfully overhauled regulations for the extraction of natural resources like oil, the federal coal program is due for more changes. POGO recently published the top five public natural resource reforms accomplished in the past eight years and the top five recommendations for the current and future administration.

Oil, Gas, and Coal Law is Long Overdue Victory for Taxpayers

June 20, 2016

For the first time in decades, the federal government has majorly overhauled the way it determines how much money taxpayers receive from oil, gas, and coal extracted from federal lands.

Are Taxpayers Being Shortchanged from Natural Resources Revenue?

January 28, 2016

At a roundtable public discussion sponsored by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and Taxpayers for Common Sense, Ali Zaidi, Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science Programs at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said, “If you care are about the federal taxpayer, there is strong evidence we’re undercharging [for natural resources extracted from federal land].”

Victory for Taxpayers on Coal

January 15, 2016

POGO has long been urging the Interior Department to update its outdated coal rules for mining on federal land. Today, the Department announced it would be halting coal leases while it undertakes a review of the federal coal program.

EITI Report Shows Impact of Resource Extraction on Taxpayers

December 15, 2015

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) released a report on oil, gas, minerals, and renewable resources, and made data about those resources available to the public.

Draining Us Dry: How Diverting a New Mexico River Will Hurt Taxpayers

September 14, 2015

The Project on Government Oversight is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government. POGO’s mandate led us to investigate a federally-funded project in New Mexico, where the numbers just don’t add up.

It's Time to Update Coal Rules That Are Costing Taxpayers Millions

August 3, 2015

The rules governing what coal companies pay to extract natural resources from public lands haven't been changed in over 25 years.

Mine Games: How Federal Coal Program Loopholes Can Cheat Taxpayers

April 16, 2015

A 25-year-old loophole can allow coal companies to cheat the federal government and taxpayers out of revenues, but a proposed rule from the Interior Department may change that.

U.S. Joins International Effort to Bring Transparency to Drilling, Mining Industries

March 19, 2014

An international organization working to bring greater transparency and accountability to industries that extract natural resources accepted the U.S. as a candidate for membership at a meeting of its board today in Oslo, Norway.

U.S. Submits Transparency Plan for International Approval

December 19, 2013

The U.S. candidacy application to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has been submitted, which means the public is one step closer to understanding how the extractive industries impact their communities, the environment, and the economy.

Natural Resource Transparency Must Include Local Governments

June 21, 2013

Groups that represent the interests of citizens, investors, unions, and others are championing greater openness from local governments as the United States implements the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Nuke Agency Wasted Millions on Inappropriate Reimbursements

May 29, 2013

A contractor for the National Nuclear Security Administration overbilled the agency by about $3.7 million in order to reimburse its subcontractors for living expenses they were not eligible to receive, according to the Inspector General at the Department of Energy.

VA Medical Construction Over Budget, Behind Schedule

May 7, 2013

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ largest construction projects are, on average, $366 million over budget and almost three years behind schedule, the Government Accountability Office told Congress.

Transparency on Oil, Gas, Coal Revenues Moving Forward

May 7, 2013

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative decided that it will include oil, gas, and coal royalties on federal lands in it scope. Other revenues, resources, and lands are still up for discussion among members of industry, government, and civil society.

Risk of IRS Audit Declines for Many Businesses

April 16, 2013

The likelihood of companies that fall into the highest tax bracket being audited by the Internal Revenue Service is on the decline, according to a new report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

SEC Stands Firm as Industry Tries to Un-Do Transparency Law

March 28, 2013

As natural resources companies wage a legal battle against a new regulation that calls for more revenue reporting, the Securities and Exchange Commission has stood its ground, firmly rejecting industry’s anti-transparency arguments.

VA Healthcare System Failing Veterans, Study Says

March 28, 2013

Military veterans experience “excessive wait time” for medical care, leading to higher incidences of preventable hospitalizations and death, according to the Institute of Medicine.

House Report Highlights Need for Inspector General Nominations

March 1, 2013

The watchdog office overseeing the department that manages the nation’s public lands and natural resources has been rendered toothless for over 1,400 days.

Extractives Revenue Openness Initiative Holds First Meeting

February 22, 2013

Representatives from civil society, industry, and government came together last week to plan how to make the government’s collection of royalty payments from natural resources companies more transparent.

POGO Joins Natural Resources Extraction Transparency Initiative

February 6, 2013

POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian will join a federal advisory committee that aims to ensure that the government and taxpayers are getting their fair share of revenues from natural resources that come from public lands.

Energy Dept. IG Finds Conflicts of Interest in Nuke Clean-Up

November 9, 2012

Government investigators have uncovered conflicts of interest among the contractors working on a multi-billion dollar effort to decontaminate and decommission two of the nation’s nuclear weapons sites.

Oil and Gas Industry Loses Latest Round in Battle with SEC

November 9, 2012

In an attempt to combat corruption in resource-rich developing countries, two years ago Congress ordered U.S. corporations to disclose payments they make to foreign governments for the extraction of oil, gas and minerals. This week, the Securities and Exchange Commission stood its ground and refused to put the rule on hold while industry groups challenge the agency in court.

Inspector General Report Warns of Budget Overruns in Nuke Refurbishment

October 3, 2012

The NNSA's effort to extend the shelf-life of nuclear warheads designed for submarine launch is on track for "large cost overruns" of about $221 million if things don't change, according to an inspector general audit.

Senate Investigation Found DHS Intelligence Centers Wasted Money and Violated Civil Liberties

October 3, 2012

A Department of Homeland Security effort to improve the sharing of terrorism-related intelligence among state and local governments and with officials in Washington has yielded “shoddy” information and civil liberties violations, according to a Senate investigation.

'Extensive' Oversight of Nuclear Weapons Facilities Not Such a Bad Idea, After All, Official Says

September 12, 2012

A top Department of Energy official has changed his tune on the oversight of security contractors at nuclear weapons facilities after an 82-year-old nun broke into the "Fort Knox of uranium."

Break-In Reveals "Ineptitude" at Nuke Facility, Probe Finds

August 31, 2012

A government investigation into the recent break-in at the Y-12 nuclear weapons facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., blamed longstanding security weaknesses and “troubling displays of ineptitude” by facility personnel.

Mission Impossible? Not for 82-year-old Anti-Nuclear Weapons Activist

July 30, 2012

When a nuclear weapons facility can't stop infiltration by an octogenarian nun, it's time to reassess its security standards. The 82-year-old nun, accompanied by two other anti-nuclear activists, broke into Tennessee's Y-12 National Security Complex early Saturday morning.

Key NDAA Reforms: Nuclear Weapons Complex Edition

May 18, 2012

This week, the House rejected key amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have prevented rollbacks of oversight at our nation's nuclear weapons labs and would have maintained zero funding for an unnecessary $6 billion plutonium facility.

April 26, 2018

FOI documents show CBP’s long-term problem with corruption

Federal News Radio | By Terry Wing

April 25, 2018

Border Patrol agent who picked up drugs along fence for apparent traffickers gets prison

The San Diego Union-Tribune | By Kristina Davis

March 16, 2018

Politico Morning Shift: 5th Circuit vacates fiduciary rule

Politico | By Ted Hesson

October 11, 2017

ICE’s Captive Immigrant Labor Force

The Nation | By Michelle Chen

March 24, 2014

U.S. Joins Global Transparency Tide in Extractives Sector

IPS Inter Press Service News Agency | By Carey L. Biron