Issa Investigating Bonneville Power Administration Hiring Practices

Wednesday, 17 Jul 2013 01:18 PM

By Dan Weil

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Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is looking into the Energy Department's Bonneville Power Administration, which has been accused of employment discrimination against veterans.

Issa is seeking documents about BPA's hiring practices after a report from the Energy Department inspector general determined the Northwest power agency "effectively disadvantaged" veterans applying for jobs and apparently punished employees who cooperated with the investigation of those practices, The Hill reported Wednesday.

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"Based on our work to date, we have reached a preliminary conclusion that Bonneville engaged in a number of prohibited personnel practices," the inspector general's report states.

In a letter Tuesday
to Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman, Issa said the discrimination that "allegedly occurred in 65 percent of hiring decisions between June 2010 and November 2012, [is] starkly at odds with this administration's public proclamations supporting the hiring of thousands of veterans returning from the war theater."

"It appears as though some officials may have even been fired for blowing the whistle on these egregious hiring practices," he added.

"The fact that Department officials may be engaged in retaliation against whistleblowers courageous enough to report improper hiring practices is, as the [inspector general] wrote, deeply concerning, and if true, is something this committee will not tolerate."

The Energy Department put BPA Administrator Bill Drummond and Chief Operating Officer Anita Decker on leave Monday. And it has executed "corrective actions" that were "fully responsive" to the study's findings, the inspector general noted in his report.

Still, Issa wanted to know from Poneman when he was informed of the allegations against BPA, whether the information had been shared with the secretary of energy, and what steps were taken "to identify the scale of wrongdoing."

The BPA sells wholesale power in the Pacific Northwest from 31 federal hydropower plants, a nonfederal nuclear plant, and several nonfederal power plants, its website states. About one-third of electrical power in that region of the country comes from the BPA transmission network.

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