Tennessee Valley Authority:

Facts Surrounding Allegations Raised Against the Chairman and the IG

OSI-99-20: Published: Sep 15, 1999. Publicly Released: Sep 21, 1999.

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Robert H. Hast
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO investigated the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Inspector General's (IG) allegation that the Chairman, TVA, attempted to interfere with the independence of his office. GAO also investigated the TVA Chairman's allegation that the IG improperly used his office's credit card.

GAO noted that: (1) with regard to the IG's allegation against the Chairman, GAO found that it was based on the disagreement between the IG and the Chairman over the Chairman's authority to both direct a broad management review of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and contract with a nonfederal entity to conduct the review; (2) the Chairman's actions could be viewed as an attempt to undermine the independence of the IG; (3) not knowing that a peer review of the OIG had been conducted only months previously, the Chairman decided to initiate a management review of the OIG based in part on two anonymous allegations; (4) when the Chairman discussed the review with the IG, the IG initially agreed to it; and TVA contracted with a nonfederal entity to conduct the review; (5) however, when the IG was presented with an OIG legal counsel opinion and after discussions with other IGs and members of Congress, he became concerned about the appropriateness of such a review and informed the Chairman of his reversal of opinion; (6) the Chairman later decided to use another OIG to conduct the review and believed that the IG would accept such an arrangement; (7) the Chairman was unaware that this offer was not communicated to the IG as he had directed; (8) however, before it was determined that the IG had not been informed about the Chairman's decision, TVA's Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) initiated a separate review of the IG's use of his TVA credit card during his 5-year tenure; (9) as a result of his separate conversations with the Chairman and the CAO, the IG felt that the Chairman was threatening the OIG's ability to conduct investigations and wanted to remove him from office; (10) to counter his belief that the IG would release a 7-day letter to the press, the Chairman released to the press his recent letter to a member of Congress; (11) in that letter, the Chairman alleged that the IG had abuse his use of the TVA credit card; (12) with regard to the Chairman's allegations concerning the IG's lack of independence, the IG recognized that his closeness to TVA management and his attendance at TVA social functions could have led observers to construe that his independence had been comprised; (13) however, he had investigated allegations involving all three directors, including an audit of a $30-million, irrevocable trust created and controlled by the Chairman and funded by TVA; and (14) this audit resulted in the revocation of the trust and the funds' return to TVA.

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