Energy Regulation:

DOE Should Ensure Oil Industry Retains Records To Resolve Violations

RCED-86-153: Published: Aug 18, 1986. Publicly Released: Oct 28, 1986.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

John W. Sprague
(202) 512-7783
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Energy's (DOE) development and implementation of the Economic Regulatory Administration's (ERA) rule amending the recordkeeping requirements for the oil industry to determine whether DOE: (1) risked the loss of records needed to resolve alleged violations by issuing the rule in January 1985; and (2) had an adequate basis for selecting June 30, 1985, as the cut-off date for certain firms to retain their records. GAO also reviewed one oil producer's efforts to have DOE significantly reduce the oil industry's recordkeeping burden, specifically whether correspondence between executive branch officials and DOE should have been included in the public file.

GAO found that: (1) DOE issued its amended rule in January 1985 because it mistakenly believed that it would subsequently have difficulty enforcing its recordkeeping requirements; (2) since DOE failed to document and coordinate the actions it took to identify which oil firms should retain records and which records they should retain, some firms may have destroyed records needed for enforcement proceedings; (3) DOE unrealistically selected the June 30, 1985, cut-off date for certain firms to retain their records before it had completed its enforcement program; (4) it could not determine to what extent the oil producer's correspondence influenced the rulemaking process; and (5) the correspondence between the executive branch and DOE was not required to be part of the public file, since it did not directly respond to ongoing DOE rulemaking or a DOE request for approval of the recordkeeping requirement.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE concurred with this recommendation and made the necessary determinations. However, DOE found that none of the 19 firms needed to retain their records.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the records still needed for the ERA enforcement program are being retained by the oil firms, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Administrator, ERA, to determine which of the 19 third-party firms that did not receive notification letters still need to retain records, and appropriately notify those firms.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE concurred with this recommendation and made the necessary determinations. DOE found that three firms needed to retain records and all three were promptly notified of this requirement.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, ERA, should determine whether the 80 letters to the third-party firms, whose letters were not adequately supported by ERA documentation, were accurate. If the letters were not accurate, the firms should be notified of the correct recordkeeping requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy: Economic Regulatory Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: ERA reviewed the GAO list of the 75 firms that had not been notified of their recordkeeping status and found that 18 firms still needed to retain records. ERA sent letters to the firms advising them of their continuing recordkeeping requirements.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that all relevant records are being retained by the oil firms, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Administrator, ERA, to determine which of the firms that were not notified of their recordkeeping status still need to retain their records, and resume efforts to locate and inform the firms accordingly.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 14, 2016

Sep 8, 2016

Aug 11, 2016

Aug 9, 2016

Aug 4, 2016

Jul 15, 2016

Jul 14, 2016

Jun 20, 2016

Mar 3, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here