September 8, 2021

Allegations of Conflict of Interest at the Department of Energy’s Office of Aviation Management

The Office of Aviation Management’s (OAM) mission is to provide the Department of Energy, including the National Nuclear Security Administration, with aviation policies, guidance, and program management oversight to ensure the delivery of effective, efficient, and safe aviation services required to support the Department’s mission.  We initiated this inspection to determine the facts and circumstances regarding the alleged inappropriate conduct at the OAM.  We substantiated the allegation that a senior OAM official solicited a Department contractor to accommodate additional aviation duties for a subordinate OAM official.  This occurred while the OAM was conducting an independent audit of the contractor.  Although we also determined the senior OAM official made a similar solicitation previously, we did not substantiate two other allegations related to this official.  The issues we identified occurred, in part, because the OAM officials did not follow the Department’s guidance on ethical conduct for Federal employees to identify and mitigate the potential conflicts of interest and ethical concerns associated with the OAM’s oversight role of the Department’s aviation programs while flying for those aviation programs.  In addition, the OAM did not adhere to its own protocols during its aviation audit of the Nevada Field Office and Mission Support and Test Services, LLC.  To address the issues identified in this report, we have made two recommendations that, if fully implemented, should help ensure that these issues are corrected.  Management fully concurred with our findings and recommendations, and its proposed corrective actions are consistent with our recommendations.