Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO commented on whether the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were using contractor personnel to perform inherently governmental functions. GAO noted that: (1) Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidelines on contracting for government commercial activities prohibited agencies from contracting for inherently governmental functions; (2) DOE contracted for hearing examiners and personnel security examiners, contending that the examiners made recommendations in an advisory capacity; (3) GAO and OMB believed that the examiners should be government personnel, since they considered evidence and made specific rulings on factual questions; (4) DOE contracted for assistance in preparing congressional testimony, which appeared to violate its own regulations and constituted an inherently governmental function; and (5) EPA contracted for the operation of a telephone hotline to answer questions from the public regarding environmental laws.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Environmental Protection Agency||EPA should review the contract and, if necessary, modify it to ensure that the contractor does not provide original interpretations of EPA regulations.|
|Environmental Protection Agency||EPA should require the contractor to identify to all callers that the hotline is staffed by contractor personnel and that interpretations of EPA regulations must be handled by EPA personnel.|