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Audit Report: DOE-IG-0890

July 2, 2013

Follow-up Audit on Term Assignments of Contractor Employees

The Department of Energy frequently assigns facility contractor personnel to the Washington, DC, area on a temporary basis when program officials consider it necessary to obtain technical expertise not available locally.  Commonly referred to as term assignments, the estimated cost of all such assignments for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 was over $37 million, all of which was reimbursed by the Department.  Federal officials authorizing such assignments are required to ensure that costs for assignees are reasonable when compared to other means of acquiring the necessary knowledge and experience. 

The Department's management of term assignments had improved since the 2005 report.  However, additional opportunities exist to enhance the effectiveness and reduce the cost of the program.  Specifically, some allowances appeared excessive, and some varied significantly between the facility contractors providing term assignees.  Further, a cost analysis had not been conducted to determine whether cost effective alternatives to term assignments were available, although specifically required by existing Department policy.
The issues we discovered occurred, in part, because of inadequate controls and management oversight.  As a result of these lapses, the Department lacked assurance that the cost of technical and program support provided by the facility contractor personnel assigned to Washington was both reasonable and necessary and that this approach was the most efficient, least expensive means of obtaining needed skills.  Furthermore, inconsistencies in the dislocation allowances authorized by site contractors likely resulted in unreasonable and unnecessary costs to the Department. 

Management concurred with the report's recommendations and identified actions it had taken or planned to address our recommendations and to improve management of term assignments to the Washington, DC, area.

TOPIC: Management and Administration