Department of Energy:

Allegations About the Director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact

RCED-86-95: Published: Jun 12, 1986. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO investigated various allegations against the former Director of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Minority Economic Impact (OMEI), focusing on allegations that the Director: (1) proposed a reduction in force (RIF) to retaliate against the two affected employees; (2) claimed travel expenses for trips not related to government business; and (3) misused government telephones and vehicles.

GAO found that: (1) there was no direct evidence to support the allegation that the Director proposed RIF to retaliate against employees; (2) there was substantial circumstantial evidence supporting the view that retaliation was a significant factor in her decision to propose RIF; (3) the Director failed to follow established DOE RIF procedures in proposing, conducting, and notifying the employees of RIF; (4) the Director made a number of trips to her home state and there were discrepancies between her itineraries and vouchers regarding the purposes of the trips and the length of stay necessary to accomplish official business; (5) on one occasion, an OMEI grantee improperly paid the Director's hotel bill; (6) the Director extensively used federal telephones for what appeared to be personal calls; (7) the Director used DOE vehicles and drivers for a number of trips that may have been related to personal business; (8) there was little support for an allegation that the Director used OMEI staff and supplies to conduct personal business; and (9) there was no evidence that the Director engaged in illegal contracting activities.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Secretary of Energy has determined that the trips in question were official government travel. The Secretary also determined that the Mendez Foundation improperly paid for the expenses for one of the Director's trips to Puerto Rico. The Director made payment to the Mendez Foundation on February 1, 1989, in the amount of $499.95 and submitted a travel voucher to DOE on February 15, 1989.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should request the Inspector General to determine the extent to which the Director's trips were personal, and whether regulations covering conflict of interest, salary, and appropriation augmentation were violated. Based on these determinations, the Secretary should take cost recovery and other actions, as appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Director was billed for personal use of government equipment. DOE received a check on February 10, 1988 for reimbursement of personal expenses.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should request the Inspector General, DOE, to determine the extent to which the Director made use of long-distance telephone lines and the motor pool for personal use at government expense, and recover any such expenses, as appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

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