Department of Energy’s Bonneville Power Administration: Discriminating Against Veterans and Retaliating Against Whistleblowers

Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Hearing Date: August 1, 2013 10:00 am 2154 Rayburn House Office Build

Chairman Issa Preview Statement

OGR Full Committee Hearing:  “Department of Energy’s Bonneville Power Administration: Discriminating Against Veterans and Retaliating Against Whistleblowers” 

Whistleblowers represent the frontline of this Committee’s effort to hold this government accountable to the American people so that we can prevent future wrong-doing and abuse.  This Committee will not tolerate retaliation against them.

Two weeks ago the Department of Energy Office of Inspector General issued a Management Alert, warning that the Bonneville Power Administration’s hiring practices appeared to have effectively disadvantaged veterans and other applicants.

The IG also found that BPA recently proposed or took a number of personnel actions against employees who cooperated with the review.

Let me be perfectly clear, retaliation against whistleblowers is illegal, and I will not stand for it.  We want the truth and the American people deserve the truth.

A high-level BPA official informed us that they had received specific instructions not to speak with anyone outside of BPA or the Department about this matter – and that the instruction came straight from the top of the Department.

Consequently, BPA employees have been, quite frankly, scared to speak with Committee investigators for fear of retaliation.

I want to send a message to any whistleblower out there– if you want to come forward and speak, we will protect you.

We have a responsibility to the American people to understand what happened at BPA and ensure that it does not happen elsewhere.

The Department of Energy’s recent reversal of the retaliatory personnel actions is a positive step, but it should never have been necessary in the first place.

Make no mistake about it; we will continue to fight for the truth and for genuine accountability of government.

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
The Honorable Daniel B. Poneman Deputy Secretary U.S. Department of Energy Document
The Honorable Gregory H. Friedman Inspector General U.S. Department of Energy Document
Ms. Anita J. Decker Chief Operating Officer Bonneville Power Administration Document