In the wake of the Bonneville Power Administration’s recent hiring controversy, the Department of Energy’s headquarters has issued a memo
announcing its exercise of more control over BPA’s decision-making. The stimulus for this DOE action was the earlier issuance of a DOE Inspector General’s report highly critical of BPA’s personnel actions and policies. In addition to federal personnel matters, however, BPA’s General Counsel will now report directly to DOE’s General Counsel in Washington, D.C. “to assure that BPA GC’s advice reflects consistent application of and compliance with Federal law and applicable DOE policies to all BPA activities.”
(Emphasis added.) A DOE Inspector General Report had included the finding that a BPA attorney had been involved in counseling BPA personnel management in an alleged evasion of veterans’ preference rights; however, this DOE Headquarters control over BPA’s legal staff potentially appears to extend to all legal matters affecting BPA. DOE Headquarters has also assumed more control in reviewing the “appropriate application” of DOE’s directives, delegations, regulations, and orders to BPA. It remains to be seen how much this DOE action will constrain the autonomy that BPA has historically enjoyed. This Oregonian article
provides more background and early reactions.