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Audit Report: OAS-L-14-06

March 31, 2014

Western Area Power Administration's Rocky Mountain Regional Office's Transmission Vegetation Management Program

The Department of Energy's (Department) Western Area Power Administration (Western) markets wholesale power produced from Federal water projects.  Western's transmission lines are managed by four regional offices — Rocky Mountain, Sierra Nevada, Upper Great Plains, and Desert Southwest.  Each regional office is responsible for ensuring vegetation management practices are in place to prevent physical contact between transmission lines and nearby vegetation. 

We conducted this audit to determine whether Western had effectively managed its Transmission Vegetation Management Program (Vegetation Program) in the Rocky Mountain Region.  Between June 2011 and September 2013, the Rocky Mountain Region spent approximately $4.6 million for vegetation maintenance in forested areas. 

Our audit found that Rocky Mountain had generally implemented management controls for its Vegetation Program.  However, we identified opportunities to improve the Rocky Mountain Region's management of its vegetation maintenance contractor.  Additional contractor work verification techniques, or refinement of current techniques, could help the Rocky Mountain Region ensure that it is not overpaying its contractor.  While a number of actions are already in place, improving verification could also increase assurance that vegetation is not encroaching on transmission lines.  We provided a suggested action to address these concerns.

Topic: Management & Administration