You are here

Special Inquiry: DOE/IG-0895

October 3, 2013

Review of Allegations Regarding Prohibited Personnel Practices at the Bonneville Power Administration

The Office of Inspector General received a complaint alleging prohibited personnel practices at Bonneville.  The allegations included violations of OPM regulations and the inappropriate dismissal of veterans during their probationary period.  The complaint also alleged violations of Department policies regarding the application of veterans' preference and the use of the category rating process in the exercise of Bonneville's delegated examining authority for competitive hiring. 

We found that Bonneville's hiring practices disadvantaged veterans and other applicants.  Bonneville consistently manipulated the applicant rating process, and did not fully disclose to the Department that the inappropriate personnel practices had occurred or the adverse impact on veterans and other applicants despite specific requirements to do so.  Further, Bonneville neither notified the affected applicants nor did it initiate corrective actions required to remedy the inappropriate practices.    

The management culture at Bonneville contributed to an environment that enabled the prohibited practices to occur.  Notably, we observed that Bonneville officials spent considerable effort trying to distance the organization from Departmental procedures, processes and oversight.  Compounding problems associated with the general environment and culture, our inquiry revealed that Bonneville exercised inadequate oversight and accountability of its own personnel recruitment functions.  In short, there was a massive breakdown in procedures, processes and management attentiveness at several levels of Bonneville's operation.

The impact of Bonneville's improper hiring practices is widespread, has subjected affected individuals to economic consequences, has disrupted Department and Bonneville operations, and has exposed the Department to a variety of legal challenges.  Most importantly, adversely impacted veterans have not received promised benefits.  The Department expressed concurrence with our report, and its corrective actions, taken and planned, were fully responsive to our findings and recommendations. 

Topic:  Management & Administration