December 23, 2021
Allegations Regarding Management Conduct Within the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity
The Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) develops and executes Department of Energy-wide policies to implement applicable legislation and Executive Orders that strengthen diversity and inclusion goals affecting equal employment opportunities, small and disadvantaged businesses, minority educational institutions, and historically under-represented communities. In June 2020, the Office of Inspector General received two separate allegations concerning management conduct within ED. Specifically, the complainants’ allegations included: (1) improper communication with prospective grant applicants; (2) prohibited personnel practices related to a hiring action; (3) misuse of position; (4) use of disparaging terms and excessive contacts outside working hours; and (5) retaliatory behavior with an alleged hostile environment. We initiated this inspection to determine the facts and circumstances regarding allegations within ED. We were unable to identify documentary evidence to substantiate that ED management engaged in disparate treatment of women. We also did not substantiate the allegations related to improper communication with prospective grant applicants, prohibited personnel practices related to a hiring action, misuse of position, use of disparaging terms and excessive contacts outside working hours, and retaliatory behavior with an alleged hostile environment. However, we substantiated the allegation that the former ED Director incurred improper travel expenses. The issues we identified occurred, in part, because management at ED had not ensured that anti-discrimination policies were embraced by current and future leaders. Further, the issues we identified in travel occurred, in part, because of the former Director’s personal decisions and a lack of travel approver training. Management agreed with our findings and recommendations, and its proposed corrective actions are consistent with our recommendations.