Evaluation of the Department of Energy's Economic Regulatory Administration Office in Tulsa, OK

RCED-84-192: Published: Sep 25, 1984. Publicly Released: Oct 25, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) the change in the Economic Regulatory Administration (ERA) Tulsa Office's management of audit cases involving alleged oil pricing violations; (2) the ERA basis for changing its treatment of crude oil transactions between crude oil producers and affiliated crude oil resellers; and (3) the justification for employee performance awards.

GAO found that a change in the management of audit cases which resulted from an effort to expedite a review to prepare a status report on each open audit case did not adversely impact the development and resolution of audit findings. The new audit management approach generally changed auditor responsibilities from specific case responsibility to group assignments. However, GAO found no evidence of the office suppressing, diluting, or dropping supportable audit findings; and audit cases which needed additional supporting documentation, or whose alleged violations were not properly calculated, could be completed or corrected. Consequently, GAO believed that the audit cases were adequately managed. GAO also found that the guidance issued on the treatment of crude oil transactions between a crude oil producer and a crude oil reseller, both of which were part of the same firm, was consistent with both Department of Energy (DOE) regulations and a court decision involving similar transactions. During the 2-year period ending November 1983, 14 employees from the office were recommended for cash awards and all of the nominations were approved at DOE headquarters. The awards were supported by performance appraisals, and the majority of the auditors believed that the awards were handled in a fair and equitable manner. Therefore, GAO found that the employee performance awards were fully documented and made in accordance with DOE criteria.

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