Personnel Support Services Furnished the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by DOE

EMD-80-20: Published: Dec 18, 1979. Publicly Released: Jan 17, 1980.

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) operates under a common support agreement with the Department of Energy (DOE), which provides for DOE to furnish certain general support requirements such as: contracting and procurement; recruiting and personnel administration; payroll; automatic data processing; operation of management information systems; property management; facilities maintenance; equal employment opportunities; and support in areas where expertise is not resident in FERC. A request was made for a re-examination of the DOE processing of FERC job applications. Of particular concern were apparent inconsistencies between internal FERC memorandums and a GAO report which stated that the applications were being processed in a reasonable timeframe with few problems. The memorandums discussed problems that FERC was having with DOE support services.

The key issues listed in the memorandums showed that job position descriptions and proper grade levels for new employees were the primary issues over which FERC officials and DOE personnel classifiers differed. While DOE classifiers were using the Office of Personnel Management guidelines to determine the proper grade levels, an FERC office was requiring higher grade level authorizations to attract the quality of personnel to do the job. This disagreement delayed the filling of some vacancies. The two primary factors which impeded the order in which FERC job applications were processed were a priority system in filling vacancies and a departmentwide classification project. Due to an allocation of 400 positions in addition to a high turnover rate, FERC employed outside contractors to assist in the classification project. FERC officials stated that the personnel support services provided by DOE had improved and that only minor problems remained. Because FERC must rely upon DOE for support services, there is a degree of dependency that is inherent in the statutory relationship. Although FERC may terminate the agreement upon a 90 day notice to DOE, FERC informed GAO that it would not be able to assume all of the duties currently provided by DOE within the 90 days. These factors cause a potential risk to FERC's independence.

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