Inspection Report: DOE-OIG-19-16

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February 14, 2019

Allegations Regarding Southwestern Power Administration’s Procurement of the Pathways Core Training

Southwestern Power Administration (Southwestern) is an agency of the Department of Energy that transmits and markets hydroelectric power.  Southwestern employs about 200 Federal workers in offices across the Nation.  Southwestern’s operation and maintenance budget request for fiscal year 2017 was nearly $140 million, of which about $260,000 was for employee training. 

The Office of Inspector General received a complaint related to the former Southwestern Administrator’s plan to send management staff to Pathways Core Training (Pathways).  According to its website, Pathways is an experience-based training to help individuals overcome barriers from the past, align habits and relationships to core values, and design an attainable life plan that elevates the quality of their future.  We summarized the complaint into five distinct allegations and conducted this inspection to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding these allegations. 

We substantiated three of the five allegations: (1) the allegation that Pathways was not appropriate training for Southwestern employees, (2) the allegation that Southwestern misused appropriated funds, and (3) the allegation that Southwestern’s former Administrator had a covered relationship with the Pathways organization.  We did not substantiate the allegation that Southwestern had not followed Federal regulations related to competition, split disbursements, and source selection when purchasing Pathways.  We also did not substantiate the allegation that Southwestern’s former Administrator inappropriately used his personal funds to cover subordinates’ training costs.

The substantiated allegations occurred because Southwestern officials were not aware of the appropriation restrictions until the Department’s Office of the General Counsel informed Southwestern of the restrictions.  As a result, Southwestern employees were sent to Pathways with misused appropriated funds that were not recovered by Southwestern.  In addition, during the performance of our inspection, we identified other matters that warrant management’s attention.  Specifically, we found that Southwestern officials were not following policy requirements for completing training needs assessments and individual development plans.  We made five recommendations to address the issues identified in our report.

Topic: Management & Administration