The U.S. Energy Department’s internal watchdog has referred to federal prosecutors hiring improprieties with a contractor worker who was pre-selected for a senior federal job within the department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
“We identified a number of circumstances surrounding the hiring action that were troubling, actions that understandably led the complainants to believe, and for us to conclude, that the contract employee was, in fact, pre-selected. Evidence gathered from a number of sources, including the Federal selecting official, demonstrated that the contract employee was granted preferences and advantages that were not granted to other applicants,” the DOE inspector general said in a new report.
The same contractor employee – who was not identified in the report – was given information about the job opening before the general public. The same individual wrote a job description for the opening and developed questions to be asked during the application process for the job that the same contractor employee ended up getting. An internal memo justifying the hire said that the contractor employee was already serving as the hiring manager’s deputy and was responsible for all operations in the program, the watchdog said.
After interviewing 31 current and former DOE employees and analyzing more than 250,000 emails, the inspector general said it referred the case to the U.S. Special Counsel to decide whether the prohibited hiring practices should be prosecuted.
FAST FACT: As part of the inspector general’s investigation, it also found evidence that some officials in DOE’s energy efficiency unit asked contractors to hire specific individuals and assign them to support contracts until they could be hired as federal employees.
Other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities:
- Social Security Administration should stop placing beneficiaries with Nebraska nonprofit group Safe Haven until it better manages the monthly checks it receives for nearly 400 elderly (OIG).
- HUD should pursue a $1.2 million civil enforcement action against Security Atlantic Mortgage Co. for failing to follow underwriting rules, which could cost the FHA insurance fund $553,730 (OIG).
- VA medical centers are not consistent in following purchasing and tracking requirements for one-time use medical supplies, which creates potential safety risks for the 5.5 million veterans treated annually (GAO).
- Biometric systems that recognize fingerprints, palm prints, voice recognition, or facial features are “inherently fallible” because an individual’s characteristics may vary due to age, stress or disease (National Research Council).
- EPA should throw out invalid data and modify its long-term Superfund monitoring plan for the PAB Oil and Chemical Services Inc. site in Abbeville, La. (OIG)
- USDA, which licenses dealers who sell animals for research, failed to complete all tracebacks required to prevent lost or stolen dogs and cats from being sold to laboratories. So-called “random source dealers” sold 3,139 animals to researchers in 2007, which is about 3 percent of dogs and cats used in research annually (GAO).
- U.S. Patent Office offers more training as it tries to cut backlog of 700,000 patent applications by recruiting more patent examiners and supervisors (GAO).